SCAET building at Sheridan's Trafalgar Road Campus

Sheridan receives funding for creative research into life skills programming

Jun 30, 2021
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Sheridan has been awarded a highly competitive College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) grant, which is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. CCSIF grants support collaborative social innovation research projects in partnership with community organizations. Dr. Sara Cumming headshot

In partnership with Halton Region, the Oakville Community Foundation and 14 not-for-profit community organizations, “Community Ideas Factory: The Life Skills Project” (awarded $356,400 for three years) aims to provide an innovative response to the need for effective life skills programming among marginalized and/or precariously housed individuals in Halton region. The project will help respond to needs of these groups through the design, development, and implementation of a virtual life skills program that will draw from the lived experience of participants and will be guided by equity, diversity, and inclusion principles.  

Sheridan’s awarded project, “Community Ideas Factory: The Life Skills Project”, is led by Dr. Sara Cumming, professor in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (FHASS), with co-investigators and professors Dr. Julianne DiSanto (Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies), Dr. Brandon McFarlane (FHASS) and Mark Shufflebottom (Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design), along with Dr. Humaira Siddiqui (Centre for Teaching and Learning) and Leah Burton from Home Suite Hope.  

“COVID-19 has put additional strain on not-for-profit organizations as many corporate and individual funders have reduced their giving. It’s exciting to have the privilege of leading a project that brings these organizations together to build collaborative client-centric models of service that will substantially reduce costs while increasing supports to vulnerable individuals in our community, so that no one is left behind. I‘m also excited to showcase the talent across the numerous Faculties at Sheridan. Bringing our collective expertise and experience together will add such depth to the final product and ensure that equity, diversity and inclusivity guides each element of design. My whole team - co-investigators, not-for-profits and the Halton Region - are so grateful to CCSIF for this opportunity,” said Dr. Cumming. 

The comprehensive life skills program will be offered to participating partner organizations in Halton region in the form of client-centric virtual modules and interactive applications. This innovative approach provides partner organizations and many marginalized individuals across Halton and neighboring communities with the opportunity to have increased access to impactful life skills interventions. 

“We’re thrilled to receive this funding that recognizes the ingenuity of social innovative research at Sheridan,” says Andrea England, Vice Provost, Research at Sheridan. “Congratulations to Dr. Cumming and the whole research team on this achievement. This project embodies the forward-thinking, cross-disciplinary and creative approaches the college is renowned for.” 

The community organizations participating in the “Community Ideas Factory: The Life Skills Project” serve a diverse range of clients — vulnerable youth, including those who have aged out of care with the Children’s Aid Society; women who are pregnant and experience homelessness; newcomers and refugees; victims of domestic and sexual violence; and individuals who are chronically homeless and facing food insecurity. However, they share a common goal to build more collaborative and inclusive communities that better serve marginalized populations. Participating community service organizations include: YMCA of Oakville; WoodGreen Community Services; Kerr Street Mission; Halton Multicultural Council; Halton Children's Aid Society; Shifra Homes Inc.; Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre; Halton Women's Place; Bridging the Gap; SAVIS of Halton; Food for Life; Peterborough Housing Corp; United Way Halton Hamilton; Big Brothers Big Sisters Halton and Hamilton. 

This project draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The CCSIF funding was included in NSERC announcement of over $38 million for 53 new projects. 

For more information on research and innovation at Sheridan, please visit 

Pictured at top: Dr. Sara Cumming, professor and lead project researcher

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