Community and College Social Innovation Fund

Warning This funding opportunity is no longer offered. For information on currently offered SSHRC funding opportunities, see Funding

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November 2015 Competition

Value Up to $200,000 (plus an additional 20 per cent, to offset overhead costs, administrative costs, reduction in course load for full-time college faculty staff, and some salary support for part-time college faculty staff)
Duration 1 to 3 years
Application deadline
(8 p.m. eastern)
November 30, 2015 (Closed)
Results announced March 2016
Apply Web CV, application and instructions

* Note: If a deadline falls on a weekend or a Canadian public holiday, the online application system will remain open until 8 p.m. (eastern time) on the next business day.

Future Challenge Areas
Value and Duration
Application Process
Evaluation and Adjudication
Regulations, Policies and Related Changes
Contact Information


As a result of the federal government’s Economic Action Plan 2014, this funding opportunity will provide $15 million over three years in support of social innovation research projects at colleges and polytechnics. This pilot initiative will connect the talent, facilities and capabilities of Canada’s colleges and polytechnics with the research needs of local community organizations. It aims to enable colleges to increase their capacity to work with communities, with the goal of developing partnerships that foster social innovation in areas such as education, integration of vulnerable populations, and community development.

Social innovation refers to the development of new ideas or the use of existing ideas to find solutions to social challenges. Social innovation entails an initiative, product, process or program that creates positive social outcomes for societies. It can result in more effective, fairer and more durable solutions to complex social problems. It aims at producing benefits for the entire society, not only for some individuals. It increases the ability of communities to act collectively. It also promotes the development of innovative solutions to accelerate technological innovation.

Canada’s colleges and polytechnics are well equipped to contribute to social innovation initiatives by tapping into the knowledge, experience, facilities and community connections available through their departments and programs.

Proposals to the Community and College Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) are expected to:

  • foster social innovation by connecting the talent, facilities and capabilities of Canada’s colleges and polytechnics with the research needs of local community organizations; and
  • facilitate the development of collaborative social innovation research that brings together researchers, students and partners to address research challenges pertaining to social innovation.

Applicants can propose partnerships that build on existing collaborations or are new collaborations or innovative models. All partnerships should promote research, connection and professional training. Applicants are encouraged to explore multisector partnership approaches with partner organizations from the private, public and/or not-for-profit sectors.

The pilot initiative is being delivered as an institutional grant, available for college and polytechnic institutions only, within the Partnership Development Grants funding opportunity. Given the unique nature of college/polytechnic research, applications in this competition will be adjudicated relative to other college/polytechnic applications, using a separate merit review process.

CCSIF proposals are expected to respond to the objectives of the Insight program or the Connection program, or a combination thereof. Please see the Insight and Connection program descriptions for more details.

The objectives of the Insight program are to: The objectives of the Connection program are to:

  • build knowledge and understanding from disciplinary, interdisciplinary and/or cross-sector perspectives through support for the best researchers;
  • support new approaches to research on complex and important topics, including those that transcend the capacity of any one scholar, institution or discipline;
  • provide a high-quality research training experience for students;
  • fund research expertise that relates to societal challenges and opportunities; and
  • mobilize research knowledge, to and from academic and non-academic audiences, with the potential to lead to intellectual, cultural, social and economic influence, benefit and impact.

  • facilitate the multidirectional flow of social sciences and humanities knowledge among researchers and between the campus and the larger community, in order to enhance intellectual, cultural, social and economic influence, benefit, and impact;
  • increase the accessibility and use of social sciences and humanities research knowledge among academic and non-academic audiences;
  • support the building of reciprocal relationships among social sciences and humanities researchers, and between social sciences and humanities researchers and those in a position to either co-create or use research knowledge;
  • support the development of social sciences and humanities research networks and tools designed to facilitate scholarly work; and
  • make such networks and tools more accessible to non-academic audiences.

CCSIF grants provide support over one to three years to teams/partnerships, led by a project director, to:

  • develop research and related activities in the social sciences and humanities, including knowledge mobilization and the meaningful involvement of students, by fostering new partnerships for research and related activities involving existing and/or potential partners; or
  • design and test new partnership approaches for research and/or related activities that may result in best practices or models that either can be adapted by others or have the potential to be scaled up to a regional, national or international level.

A formal partnership is a bilateral or multilateral formal collaboration agreement between an applicant and one or more partner organizations, of which at least one must be a Canadian postsecondary institution and at least one must be different from the institution or organization that will administer the grant funds. Partnerships may be between academic institutions, or between one or more academic institutions and one or more non-academic partner organizations. These partner organizations agree and commit to work collaboratively to achieve shared goals for mutual benefit. Partner organizations must provide evidence attesting to the commitment that has been agreed upon. For more information, see the definitions for formal partnership and partner organization.

It is expected that students will meaningfully participate in proposed initiatives. The quality of training, mentoring and employability plans for students will be evaluated as an important part of the proposed initiative.

The intellectual leadership and governance for the creation of a formal partnership may come from within the research community and/or from partner organizations from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. However, the grant funding, once awarded, may be administered only by an eligible institution (see information on eligibility below).

SSHRC welcomes applications involving Aboriginal research, as well as those involving research-creation.

SSHRC invites applicants and their partner organizations who wish to propose formal disciplinary, interdisciplinary, interinstitutional, international and/or cross-sector partnership arrangements to apply for support through this funding opportunity. Funds are available to support a variety of formal partnership development initiatives.

For tools and resources to assist with the planning and implementation of your partnership, please see SSHRC’s Partnerships Tool-Kit.

Within the CCSIF funding opportunity, there are two distinct categories of partnerships that may request support: existing and new.

Existing partnerships: Support to foster new research and/or research-related partnership activities that are distinct from the partnership’s previous/ongoing partnership activities.

New partnerships: Support to foster new research and/or research-related partnership activities that are undertaken by partnerships in their initial stages.

Following is a list of possible formal partnership approaches. Applicants are in no way limited to these approaches, and are welcome to combine some of the features described below.

Disciplinary and interdisciplinary research partnerships: Disciplinary and interdisciplinary interinstitutional research initiatives designed to make a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in the humanities and/or social sciences. While SSHRC welcomes proposals for interdisciplinary research partnerships involving natural sciences, engineering and/or health partner organizations, partnerships of this nature must adhere to SSHRC’s eligibility requirements (see Eligibility below).

Cross-sector co-creation of knowledge and understanding: Partnerships designed to foster innovative research, training and the co-creation of new knowledge on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance through a process of ongoing collaboration and mutual learning.

Networks for research and/or related activities: Networks designed to advance the innovative co-creation of knowledge, as well as training and mobilization of research, on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance.

Partnered knowledge mobilization: Partnerships designed to synthesize, apply and mobilize new and existing social sciences research knowledge in accessible ways in order to build institutional capacity and to increase the national and international impact and stature of Canadian research.

Applicants from SSHRC-eligible colleges and polytechnics are also welcome to apply to other SSHRC funding opportunities; however only the CCSIF opportunity involves separate merit review and financial arrangements for such institutions.


Future Challenge Areas

SSHRC invites all applicants to review Imagining Canada’s Future’s six future challenge areas and subquestions, and to consider addressing one or more of these areas in their research proposal. While this is not an evaluation criterion for merit review, research that addresses one or more of the future challenge areas further positions the value of the social sciences and humanities to meet Canada’s future, long-term societal challenges and opportunities.

SSHRC monitors research capacity in these areas, and develops and implements strategies and knowledge mobilization activities, including a series of Knowledge Synthesis Grants funding opportunities, to enhance the contribution of the humanities and social sciences across the six challenge areas.


Value and Duration

CCSIF grants are valued at up to $200,000 over one to three years.

Applicants can also request funding of 20 per cent in addition to the grant amount requested, to offset overhead costs, administrative costs, a limited amount of reduction in course load for full-time faculty staff, and some salary support for part-time college faculty staff. For more information, please refer to SSHRC’s Financial Guidelines for the Community and College Social Innovation Fund.

Salary research allowance

CCSIF co-applicants from eligible not-for-profit organizations may request a salary research allowance to release them from duties to their organization.



Subject matter

Applicants preparing a multidisciplinary application that includes natural sciences, engineering or health in addition to social sciences and humanities are advised to state clearly in their application for funding why their proposal is appropriate for support by the CCSIF. Such applicants should contact the research services office at their institution for guidance and/or seek advice from SSHRC prior to submitting their application (see Contact Information below).

Projects whose primary objective is curriculum development are not eligible for funding at SSHRC.


Applications must be submitted by an eligible Canadian college, institute, polytechnic or CEGEP. See Institutions below for more information on institutional eligibility requirements and processes for CCSIF grants.

The project director prepares the application on behalf of his/her host institution (the applicant), and on behalf of the formal partnership. CCSIF project directors must be affiliated with the host institution (the applicant) at the time of application. SSHRC reserves the right to determine the eligibility of all applications.

Eligible applicants are invited to submit proposals in collaboration with partner organizations, in order to establish partnered social innovation research initiatives that are aligned with this CCSIF funding opportunity description.

Note: The term “institution” from here on in this description refers to postsecondary institutions.

Project directors who have received a SSHRC grant of any type but have failed to submit a final research report by the deadline specified in their Notice of Award are not eligible to apply for another SSHRC grant until they have submitted the report.


Grant funds may only be administered by an eligible Canadian institution. Please see SSHRC’s list of eligible institutions.

Any institution that does not currently have institutional eligibility and wishes to administer SSHRC grants must meet the requirements to administer grants and awards, as outlined in the Institutional Eligibility Requirements for the Administration of Grants and Awards, and must contact SSHRC at least five business days prior to the application deadline to begin the eligibility process.

Once eligibility is granted, the institution is invited to become a signatory to the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions, which entails a commitment by the institution to adhere to the high legal, ethical and financial standards set out in the Agreement, and ensures that the institution has the necessary structures and processes in place to achieve this objective. Please note that SSHRC will not release funding to an institution before it becomes a signatory of the Agreement.

For questions related to institutional eligibility, or to receive an institutional eligibility application package, please contact SSHRC.


Co-applicants may be individuals from any of the following:

  • Canadian: Postsecondary institutions; not-for-profit organizations; philanthropic foundations; think tanks; and municipal, territorial or provincial governments.
  • International: Postsecondary institutions.


Any individual who may make a significant contribution to the research or research-related activity is eligible to be a collaborator. Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution.

Note that individuals from the private sector or federal government may only participate as collaborators.

Multiple applications

An institution may submit multiple applications to the CCSIF in the same competition, provided the proposals have different objectives and are led by different project directors. All applicants and grant holders must comply with SSHRC’s Multiple Applications regulations.

Partner organizations

Partner organizations may be Canadian or international institutions or organizations (public, private, not-for-profit) of any type. Please see the definition of formal partnership.


CCSIF grant holders will be expected to report on the use of grant funds, on research and related activities undertaken during the period of the grant, and on outcomes. Successful applicants will be informed of reporting requirements upon receiving their Notice of Award.


Application Process

Applicants and partner organizations must complete the application form (available under Apply) and follow the accompanying instructions. Applications must be submitted electronically by an authorized research grants officer from the host institution, or by a representative who has financial signing authority and is not participating in the project.

Note: If you are applying to the Community and College Social Innovation Fund, you must select the Partnership Development Grants—Institution application form.


Applicants for CCSIF grants must demonstrate the following within their application:

  • Quality and commitment of formal partnerships
    Applicants will be expected to include relevant documentation to allow for an informed evaluation of the quality and level of commitment of the proposed formal partnerships.

    As SSHRC recognizes that partnerships under development can take a variety of forms and be at various phases of development, the quality and quantity of evidence to be submitted in support of the application must accurately reflect the current stage of the partnership (i.e., new or existing).

Evidence of formal partnership may include, but is not limited to, final or draft versions of:

  • governance frameworks;
  • strategic plans;
  • intellectual property agreements; and/or
  • other relevant documentation.

Institutional and partner organization contributions

Applicants are expected to include a plan to seek and secure cash and/or in-kind support for their initiative during the life of the grant (one to three years). While there is no minimum contribution requirement, institutions and their partner organizations are expected to demonstrate that a formal partnership currently exists, or is in the process of being developed, by supporting the activities of the formal partnership through cash and/or in-kind contributions.

For more information, please see the SSHRC Guidelines for Cash and In-Kind Contributions.


Evaluation and Adjudication

CCSIF applications are adjudicated, and available funds are awarded, through a competitive process. SSHRC is committed to ensuring high-quality adjudication of all proposals. Given the unique nature of college/polytechnic research, applications in this competition will be adjudicated relative to other college/polytechnic applications.

For general information on SSHRC’s adjudication process, see Merit Review.

CCSIF applications are adjudicated by multidisciplinary committees that include relevant expertise from the college and polytechnic community, as well as research expertise from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors. The exact number and composition of review committees will be determined by the number and nature of proposals received. Participants in the review process, if not in a conflict of interest with the applicant or any team members, are asked to evaluate the proposal based on the evaluation criteria below.

SSHRC makes funding decisions based on the recommendations of the adjudication committee and on the funds available. Committee discussions will be guided by the principle of minimum essential funding.

SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Aboriginal Research are relevant for researchers who are project directors applying for a SSHRC grant to conduct Aboriginal research. SSHRC provides these guidelines to merit reviewers to help build general understanding of Aboriginal research, and to assist committee members in interpreting SSHRC’s specific Challenge, Feasibility and Capability evaluation criteria in the context of Aboriginal research. SSHRC relies on a community of merit reviewers with experience and expertise in Aboriginal research to judge the extent to which the guidelines may be applied to a particular research proposal. The guidelines may also be of use to external assessors, postsecondary institutions and partner organizations that support Aboriginal research.

Evaluation criteria and scoring

The following criteria and scoring schemes are used by the adjudication committees to evaluate CCSIF applications:

  1. Challenge—The aim and importance of the endeavour (50%):
    • originality, significance and expected contribution to knowledge;
    • appropriateness of the literature review;
    • appropriateness of the theoretical approach or framework;
    • appropriateness of the methods/approach (including the co-creation of knowledge);
    • quality of training and mentoring to be provided to students and other highly qualified personnel, and opportunities for them to contribute;
    • potential for the project results to have influence and impact within and/or beyond the social sciences and humanities research community; and
    • potential for long-term viability and identification of progress indicators.

  2. Feasibility—The plan to achieve excellence (20%):
    • probability that the objectives will be met within the timeline proposed;
    • quality and genuineness of the formal partnership and associated management and governance arrangements and leadership, including involvement of partner organizations and others in the design and conduct of the research and/or related activities;
    • appropriateness of the requested budget and justification of proposed costs;
    • indications of other planned resources, including leveraging of cash and in-kind support from the host institution and/or from partner organizations;
    • quality and appropriateness of the knowledge mobilization plans, including effective dissemination, exchange, and engagement with stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community, where applicable; and
    • appropriateness of the strategies for conducting the activity/activities proposed.

  3. Capability—The expertise to succeed (30%):
    • quality, quantity and significance of past experience and published and/or creative outputs of the applicant and any co-applicants relative to their roles in the partnership and to their respective stages of career;
    • evidence of other knowledge mobilization activities (e.g., films, performances, commissioned reports, knowledge syntheses, experience in collaboration/other interactions with stakeholders, contributions to public debate and the media, etc.) and of impacts on professional practice, social services and policies, etc.;
    • evidence of contributions to the development of talent;
    • experience in formal partnerships; and
    • potential of the applicant/co-applicants to make future contributions.

In addressing the above evaluation criteria, CCSIF proposals should also:

  • demonstrate how the proposed partnership and activities relate to social innovation research, and how they connect talent, facilities and capabilities with the research needs of local community organizations; and
  • demonstrate how the initiative will foster social innovation in areas that reflect the needs of local communities.

Scoring table

Adjudication committee members assign a score for each of the three criteria based on the scoring table below. The appropriate weighting is then applied to arrive at a final score. Applications must receive a score of 3.0 or higher for each of the three criteria in order to be recommended for funding.

Score Descriptor
5-6 Very good - excellent
4-4.9 Good - very good
3-3.9 Satisfactory - good
Below 3 Unsatisfactory

Communication of results

Research offices will be informed of the competition results pertaining to their applicants by way of SSHRC’s secure site. All applicants will receive, in addition to SSHRC’s notice of decision, a summary of the adjudication committee’s evaluation of their proposal.


Regulations, Policies and Related Information

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

Grant holders must also comply with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. See SSHRC’s Open Access overview for more information. SSHRC also encourages researchers to manage data arising from their research in accordance with both community standards and best practices.

Guidelines and related support material

All applicants for SSHRC funding should consult the following guidelines while preparing their applications:


Contact Information

For more information about the CCSIF funding opportunity, please contact:

Tel.: 613-943-1007