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College and Community Innovation program College and Community Social Innovation Fund

Effective November 1, 2021, the following changes will take effect:

  • College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) applications must be submitted through the Convergence Portal. (See the application instructions for more details).
  • The project director responsible for the intellectual direction of the research and related activities can also serve as the applicant for a grant.
  • The selection criteria have been revised and include considerations for equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • New guidelines have been introduced for research that involves Indigenous Peoples or communities.

Joint funding opportunities

NSERC-Mitacs: NSERC and Mitacs have developed a joint application submission and review process for colleges seeking support for community innovation projects from both CCSIF and This link will take you to another Web site Mitacs Accelerate. Applicants may include a request for additional support through Mitacs Accelerate internships as a component of the training of highly qualified personnel in their CCSIF application. Please read the program description below for more information.

CCSIF/Canada Council for the Arts: NSERC and Canada Council for the Arts have developed a joint application submission and review process for colleges partnering with arts organizations, groups or collectives eligible for Canada Council grants. Applicants may include a request for support from the Canada Council in their CCSIF application. Please read the program description below for more information.

Accessibility notice: If you cannot access the following content, please contact the online services helpdesk by email at webapp@nserc-crsng.gc.ca or by telephone at 1-855-275-2861. Indicate the email address and telephone number where you can be reached.

Overview
Value Up to $120,000 per year
Duration One to three years
Application deadline 8:00 p.m. (ET) on March 1, 2022
How to apply
See CCSIF application instructions for details.

For partner organizations, see Partner organization form instructions and This link will take you to another Web site Partner module instruction video.

Applications must be submitted through the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal.
For more information Contact NSERC at ccsif-fiscc@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Important information

The College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). CCSIF proposals can be multidisciplinary and may fall under the research domains of the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and/or health sciences. Applications exclusively in the social sciences and humanities, in health sciences or in the natural sciences and engineering, will be funded by SSHRC, CIHR, or NSERC, as appropriate. Multidisciplinary grants containing a natural sciences and engineering research component will be funded by NSERC. All applications must be submitted to NSERC.

Objectives

CCSIF grants are intended to foster community innovation by connecting the talent, facilities and capabilities of Canada’s colleges and polytechnics with the research needs of community organizations. CCSIF proposals should facilitate collaborative and innovative research that brings together researchers, students and partners to address challenges in community innovation in the social sciences, humanities, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering research fields.

The CCSIF program enables colleges to increase their capacity to work with communities, with the goal of developing partnerships that foster community innovation in areas such as the integration of vulnerable populations, community development, education and training, climate change, environmental degradation, as well as health and well-being.
Canada’s colleges and polytechnics are well equipped to contribute to community innovation initiatives by tapping into the knowledge, experience, facilities and community connections available through their departments and programs.

Description

CCSIF grants support well-defined and focused community innovation projects undertaken by college researchers with their partners from the public, private or not-for-profit sectors. Projects may range from one to three years in duration.

Community is a broad category, open to interpretation by institutions as they see fit, but generally refers to the communities in which the institution is embedded, whether regionally, provincially or nationally.

Community innovation refers to the development of new ideas or the use of existing ideas to find solutions to community challenges. Community innovation involves an initiative, product, process or program that creates positive social and/or health outcomes for societies. It can result in more effective, fair and durable solutions to complex social problems. It aims to produce benefits for the community, not only for some individuals. It increases the ability of communities to act collectively and promotes solutions to accelerate technological and other forms of innovation.

All proposals require evidence of

  • specific performance metrics and targeted goals that will be used to demonstrate the impact of the project
  • strong relationships with community partners that have the capability and willingness to implement research results in a Canadian setting
  • detailed planning and sound budget justification (partners should be involved in the planning sessions)
  • student training
  • the validity of the underlying assumptions for the proposed research, intended approaches, milestones and deliverables

CCSIF grants are institutional grants. The applicant must hold a remunerated position at an eligible Canadian college, must create and complete the application in the Convergence Portal and is responsible for administering the grant on behalf of the institution.

In addition, the research proposal should identify a project director responsible for the intellectual direction of the research and research-related activities. The project director must be affiliated with the host institution (the college) when they apply and must be qualified to undertake the research independently. The project director may also serve as the applicant or co-applicant.

Colleges can submit a maximum of five applications in each competition.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

Achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and is aligned with the objectives of the Tri-agency EDI action plan.

In this funding opportunity, applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented groups as one way to enhance excellence in research and training. EDI considerations should be integrated into the rationale of the composition of research teams and into the training, mentorship, and professional development opportunities for students and trainees, with an aim of removing barriers to the recruitment and full participation of individuals from underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.

For information on how to integrate EDI considerations into the rationale of the research team composition and training plans, and for links to additional resources, applicants should refer to the Guide to addressing EDI in CCI grant applications.

Research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities

The College and Community Innovation program is committed to supporting research that respectfully involves and engages with First Nations, Inuit, Métis or other Indigenous nations, communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present. This commitment reflects, and aligns with, the three federal research granting agencies’ support for Indigenous research and research training models that lead to meaningful new relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, as outlined in the strategic plan This link will take you to another Web site Setting new directions to support indigenous research and research training in Canada 2019–2022. The plan identifies four This link will take you to another Web site strategic directions guided by the following key principles:

Self-determination: fostering the right of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to set their own research priorities

Decolonization of research: respecting Indigenous ways of knowing and supporting community-led research

Accountability: strengthening accountability in respecting Indigenous ethics and protocols in research and identifying the benefits and impacts of research in Indigenous communities

Equitable access: facilitating and promoting equitable access and support for Indigenous students and researchers

Applicants whose projects involve Indigenous Peoples or communities must

  • consult and take into consideration the CCSIF guide for research involving Indigenous Peoples and communities 
  • answer “Yes” to the “Does the proposed research respectfully involve Indigenous Peoples or communities?” question of the application form
  • demonstrate how they will integrate the relevant principles and protocols for conducting respectful research with Indigenous Peoples and communities into each stage of the research process
  • include letters of support (or equivalent documents) from the Indigenous communities that may be affected by the project or have rights or a stake in the proposed research, confirming that the project is a research need or priority for these communities

To be funded, research proposals involving Indigenous Peoples or communities must demonstrate applicants’ awareness and understanding of the relevant principles and protocols for this type of research and must include evidence of how these principles and protocols have been integrated into each stage of the research process.

Partner participation

Partner organization(s) may be Canadian organizations from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors. Individuals from partner organizations can be part of the research team as collaborators for a CCSIF proposal and must bring their organization’s resources to the project.

Partner organization(s) are expected to participate actively in the project and contribute in a meaningful way to its success. Partner organization(s) must provide contributions (cash and/or in-kind) to support activities directly related to the project.

Partner organization(s) are also expected to have the capability and willingness to implement and exploit the results of the research to the benefit of the college’s community and/or Canadian society.

Eligibility

Canadian colleges that have been declared eligible to administer grants according to the eligibility requirements for colleges of at least one of the three federal granting agencies (NSERC, CIHR and/or SSHRC) may submit an application. If the proposed research and knowledge or technology transfer activities lie entirely within the mandate of a single agency (NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC), the college must be declared eligible to receive funding from that granting agency.

  • The college must offer programs in the humanities and social sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and/or health sciences, in line with the applied research areas proposed
  • The college's faculty members involved in CCSIF grants must be engaged in applied research in the humanities and social sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and/or health sciences
  • The college must provide the space, facilities and services to enable its faculty members in humanities and social sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and/or health sciences to conduct applied research

NSERC-Mitacs joint funding opportunity

Applicants may include in their CCSIF application a request for additional support through Mitacs Accelerate internships as a component of the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP). Mitacs internships require an eligible partner cash contribution and cannot be the only mechanism for student and HQP training.

Applicants who wish to include Mitacs Accelerate internships in their CCSIF application should contact their local This link will take you to another Web site Mitacs Business Development Representative to obtain the Mitacs-NSERC joint application form. The Mitacs-NSERC joint application form must be submitted with the CCSIF application form in the Convergence Portal (see the CCSIF application instructions).

NSERC-Mitacs CCSIF applications require the following information when outlining the training of highly qualified personnel. The proposal

  • must describe the role of the Mitacs interns in the research project and explain the quality of the research-based training experiences provided to the interns
  • must describe how the internship partnership organization is committed to providing supervision and mentorship to the interns
  • should explain how the number of Mitacs interns and the number of internship units is appropriate to the scope of the project

NSERC will conduct the peer review of the joint application, and funding decisions will be communicated to the applicants jointly.

CCSIF/Canada Council for the Arts joint funding opportunity

This new initiative provides opportunities for arts organizations, groups or collectives to collaborate with other sectors to foster community innovation that supports more effective, fair and/or durable solutions to complex social problems, such as integrating vulnerable populations, community development, social justice, decolonization, climate change, environmental degradation as well as fostering health and well-being.

Groups, organizations and/or collectives with a valid Canada Council for the Arts applicant profile may request additional funding from the Canada Council by completing a Canada Council for the Arts budget form and submitting it with the CCSIF application in the Convergence Portal (see CCSIF application instructions). Each partner arts organization, group or collective may request up to $75,000 per year for up to three years to support its participation in the CCSIF research project. Funds from the Canada Council will be provided directly to the eligible partner organization and will be subject to Canada Council for the Arts funding policies.

NSERC will conduct the peer review of the joint applications. Up to five CCSIF/Canada Council for the Arts applications recommended for funding will be awarded. Funding decisions will be communicated to the applicants jointly.

For questions specifically related to the Canada Council of the Arts and eligibility for Canada Council grants, SupportingArtisticPractice@canadacouncil.ca.

Application review procedures

CCSIF applications are adjudicated through a competitive process. Each CCSIF grant application is reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee that includes relevant expertise from the public, private and/or not-for-profit sectors. The exact number and composition of the review committee membership will be determined by the number and nature of the proposals received. Committee members are required to have no conflict of interest with the applicant, partners or any team members. They are asked to evaluate the proposal and make a funding recommendation to NSERC based on the selection criteria below.

Selection criteria

Applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Potential for innovation impact
    • The effectiveness of the proposal to foster innovation that addresses the needs of community organizations and partners
    • The long-term potential for the research results to lead to measurable Canadian societal benefits at the local, regional or national level
    • The project’s potential to apply knowledge in an innovative manner and/or lead to the development of new knowledge
    • The quality and quantity of training and mentoring to be provided to students and the need for these enhanced skills in the community or region
    • Identification of at least one concrete practice that will promote the participation of a diverse group of students and other trainees, including those from underrepresented groups, as well as promote an equitable, inclusive and accessible training environment
  •  Partnership
    • The capability of the partner organization(s) to implement and/or use the project results, leading to influence and impact within their organization(s) and/or community
    • The quality and appropriateness of the plans for knowledge mobilization, including effective dissemination, exchange and engagement with partner organization(s) and stakeholders within and/or beyond the research community
    • The involvement of the partner(s) in the community and other relevant stakeholders in the design and conduct of the research and/or related activities
    • The total resources available from the college, the partner organizations and other sources, and their relevance to the project
  • Quality of the proposal
    • The focus and clarity of the objectives of the proposal
    • The quality and feasibility of the work plan and the appropriateness of the research methodology
    • The suitability of the impact measurements to be used to monitor progress and assess outcomes
    • The appropriateness of the literature review
    • The overall budget and the justification of the individual budget items
  • Team expertise
    • The experience and expertise of the research team to address the proposed objectives competently and to complete the project successfully
    • The quality, quantity and significance of the past experience of the applicant and the research team in working with community partners
    • The college’s track record in contributing to community innovation, and its potential to enhance its capacity to work with community organizations
    • The identification of at least one concrete practice to ensure that EDI is intentionally and proactively considered in recruiting, selecting, and/or integrating personnel into the research team

Specific rules for the use of grant funds

The CCI program will use the 2017 College and Community Innovation program Tri-agency financial administration guide as its general guideline for the acceptable use of grant funds until March 31, 2022. On April 1, 2022 the CCI program will transition to the 2019 Tri-agency guide on financial administration. However, if colleges are ready, they may begin using the 2019 Tri-agency guide on financial administration as of April 1, 2021.

Exceptions to the Use of grant funds section of the 2017 College and Community Innovation program in the Tri-agency financial administration guide and the 2019 Tri-agency guide on financial administration are listed below.

The following expenditures are eligible:

  • Overhead and administration costs equivalent to 20% of the annual grant amount (included automatically); such costs include expenditures eligible in the This link will take you to another Web site Research Support Fund
  • Course load reduction costs to cover the salary of replacement faculty hired to backfill a faculty member’s involvement in an applied research project and expenditures associated with activities to recruit replacement faculty
  • Salaries and non-discretionary benefits for non-faculty researchers, part-time faculty, and technical and professional staff carrying out applied research, research administrators, business development and technology and/or knowledge transfer personnel
  • Stipends for college students (salaries and stipends for university students are ineligible as student salary expenditures; university students involved in projects must be remunerated as technical or professional college staff or as consultants)
  • Salaries associated with project management activities leading to the optimal use of project resources to meet the objectives of the research in a timely and budget-efficient manner
  • Equipment, operating, supplies, and consulting fees up to 20% of project costs (the total project costs include the total grant amounts and any cash contributions from partner organizations over the period of the project)

In addition, a salary research allowance can be requested for a Canadian not-for-profit organization that has an employee listed as a collaborator on the application. Salary research allowances are a contribution from the college to a not-for-profit organization to help compensate for the time an employee will spend participating in a CCSIF-funded research project. Applicants may request up to 50% of the total salary costs for the time the not-for-profit employee spends on the CCSIF research project, including benefits of the employee, to offset some of the costs of hiring a replacement employee. For projects funded through the CCSIF/Canada Council for the Arts joint funding opportunity, eligible arts organizations, groups or collectives may request salary research allowances from the Canada Council for up to 100% of the total salary costs.

Reporting

Final reports providing the impacts of the research are required at the conclusion of the grant. The partner(s) may be asked to submit comments on the project’s success directly to the CCI program. Grantees that have failed to provide the requested feedback on projects may be declared ineligible to apply for or sponsor new proposals.

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