Chair: Julia Fursova, York University
The Spirit of Organic Intellectuals and Challenging the Discourse of Risk: Reimagining the Role of Youth Workers in Toronto
Hoda Farahmandpour, OISE - University of Toronto
This paper explores youth employment and training programs in Toronto, their assumption that employment serves as quick-fix to youth disengagement, and the potential of youth workers to challenge such an approach. I will provide a literature review of the debates on youth and the focus on employability as well as discuss the programs currently in place for youth. Drawing on Gramsci’s conception of an organic intellectual, I hope to explore the possibilities for youth workers to engage with youth as embedded, active and socially located agents rather than just potential workers.
Making the Shift – evaluating collaborative approach to youth homelessness prevention
Julia Fursova, Making The Shift Inc., York University
Making the Shift (MtS) is a Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab with a mandate to contribute to the transformation of responses to youth homelessness through research and knowledge mobilization specific to youth homelessness prevention and housing stabilization. This presentation shares emerging learnings from the work of MtS, focusing on changes we hope to monitor and capture through evaluation research. Presenting a major ‘think piece’ on evaluation, we invite a conversation with academics and practitioners in the field of social innovation and systems change.
The Upstream Project Canada: Lessons for Adapting & Scaling a Social Innovation
Jacqueline Sohn, York University/Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
This research aims to understand how an innovative approach to addressing youth homelessness and school disengagement can be sustainably scaled. The Upstream Project Canada is a research-informed prevention initiative in collaboration with schools and communities, based on an Australian model that has demonstrated significant reductions in youth homelessness. Risk is identified through a universal assessment and validation processes – and offers students individualized, coordinated supports. Lessons from research inform our approach to designing this initiative for adaptation in Canada, through the deep collaboration of unconventional partners. Ultimately, we aim to scale it for systems level change.