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Social Innovation at Ryerson University


Ryerson is a leader in developing social innovation partnerships with industry, government, and community organizations. By partnering with Ryerson, organizations gain access to resources and expertise that allow them to strengthen their initiatives and solve real-world problems.

Partnership Highlight Stories


Ryerson has created an extensive network of research and community organizations, which enables the university to play an important role in building Canada’s culture of innovation. The following list highlights some of the innovative projects that demonstrate Ryerson’s successful partnerships:

Henry Parada (centre) has partnerships with numerous governments and organizations to stop child abuse and exploitation.

Stopping Child Abuse and Exploitation

A coordinated institutional effort is necessary to stop child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. Professor Henry Parada (Social Work) has gathered a multi-institutional team and forged partnerships with numerous governments and organizations to shed light on violence against children across Central America, the Caribbean, and diaspora populations in Canada. Parada’s Rights for Children and Youth Partnership is a first attempt to respond to a UN recommendation to prevent violence against children, which has gone largely ignored until now.

The Lifeline Syria Challenge

Ryerson University, OCAD University, University of Toronto, and York University have joined together to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, mobilizing communities across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to resettle Syrian refugees in Canada. Initially established with a goal of sponsoring 10 families, the GTA University Lifeline Syria Challenge has now committed to sponsoring 75 Syrian refugee families or 300 people.  


LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) promotes the benefits of trees in cities.

Preserving Urban Forests

Healthy trees make for healthy cities. This is the idea behind the Ontario Residential Tree Benefits Estimator (ORTBE), an interactive tool developed by the organization LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) in partnership with professor Andrew Millward. The app helps communicate what trees actually contribute to our everyday lives to heighten the social responsibility that we feel towards our urban forests.

Sepali Guruge (right) along with a team including Josephine Wong (left) are working to better mental health treatment for immigrant men  with support from the Movember Foundation.

Addressing a Silent Crisis

Mental health treatment for immigrant men is being transformed by a pan-Canadian team led by professor Sepali Guruge (Nursing) with the support of the Movember Foundation. The team is working to advance mental health supports within immigrant communities to reduce internalized stigma and promote knowledge and skills building. This work addresses what the Canadian Mental Health Association calls “a silent crisis” among Canadian men.

Diverse and Representative Leadership

DiverseCity onBoard, led by the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX) at Ryerson, aims to bridge the diversity gap in the governance of Canadian and international boards and agencies across sectors. Currently, only 13% of leadership positions in the Greater Toronto Area are occupied by visible minorities compared to a 49.5% share in the population. To address this discrepancy, GDX received significant support from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and the Maytree Foundation.

Re-thinking Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is a key component of a diverse employment pipeline. The Re-thinking Financial Literacy project is a partnership between Ryerson and TD Bank that makes financial literacy resources easily accessible for classroom use and brings high school students into a university setting. By offering financial literacy education to underserved communities, the project hopes to encourage youth from priority neighbourhoods to consider careers in the financial sector.

Preventing the Spread of HIV

New HIV prevention strategies are being pioneered by professor Trevor Hart (Psychology) in partnership with the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. Hart leads the first ever national collaboration of researchers, public health workers, clinicians, and community-based organization leaders to explore a policy of HIV "treatment as prevention" for men who have sex with men. The results of the study will help to develop interventions that are rooted in Canadian data and tailored to the Canadian HIV epidemic.

Lynn Lavallée (centre) is working to give the youth in Regent Park the chance to lead their own arts-based research.

Revitalizing Youth Development in Regent Park

Professor Lynn Lavallée worked with the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Clubs to give the youth of Toronto's lower income neighbourhood of Regent Park the chance to lead their own arts-based research project. Through the project, youth and community workers used spoken word, rap, drawing, photography, and performance art to express themselves and their experiences, addressing urban youth development issues.

Past & Current Partners


Partnering with over two hundred non-profits and charities along with hospitals, agencies, boards, commissions, and private sector companies, Ryerson takes pride in its growing network of research and community partnerships that enables the university to play a leadershiprole in developing Canada’s culture of innovation.

Below is a list highlighting past and current social innovation partners:


Ashoka Changemakers

AEGIS (Ontario) Project - Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

American Institute of Architectural Students


Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Canadian Chapter

Carrot City

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

City of Toronto

Design Exchange

Environics Institute



Hydro One

Inclusive Design Research Centre (OCAD)

Indigo Books


MAC Cosmetics


Maytree Foundation


National Training Rinks

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)

Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Ontario Ministry of the Environment

Princess Margaret Hospital


Scadding Court


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Steam Whistle Brewing Company

TD Bank

TD Financial Group


Toronto Police Services

Toronto Workforce Innovation Group

United Way of Greater Toronto


World Vision

YWCA Toronto