Leading Social Justice Fellowship FAQ

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Q. Do I need to have a formal leadership position in my organization or community?
A: No, participants are not required to have a formal leadership position in their work or volunteer roles, but should be able to demonstrate their interest in further developing their leadership skills.

Q. Do I need to have experience in the not-for-profit or public sector?
A. No, experience in the not-for-profit and public sectors or experience in a role with an explicit social mandate is not a requirement.

Q: Do I need to have a particular level of education or other qualifications?
A: No. All applicants are welcome regardless of educational background.

Q. Do I need to live in the GTA?
A. While your project should focus on an issue in the GTA, you are not required to live locally. You and your teammates should, however, have a meaningful connection to the community and issue you are working on.

Q. What counts as the GTA?
A. The GTA includes the City of Toronto and Halton, Peel, York, and Durham regions.

Q. Can I apply with more than one project?
A. Please apply with one project in mind. However, we expect and understand that your project will evolve over the course of your Fellowship experience.

Q. Can I apply by myself?
A. All teams must be composed of three members. We see collaboration and working with partners as a key part of a successful project and a key learning. Consider forming a team with people from your organization/community and beyond, including from other sectors. 

Q. Do I need to work in the same organization as my team members?
A. No, team members do not need to be part of the same organization, but must be working on the same social justice challenge. Collaboration across organizations and sectors is encouraged.

Q. Can I have more than three people on my team?
A. The Fellowship can accommodate only three members per team. However, teams are encouraged to share ideas and learnings from the Fellowship with others in their organization or community.

Q. Do I need to have someone from each sector on my team? 
A. No. We encourage but do not require teams to have cross-sector representation. The only requirement is that you and your team members are working on the same social justice challenge. You may all be from one organization/sector/community or from different organizations/sectors/communities.

Q. Why do I have to apply in a team of three? Why not another number?
A. In our experience working with teams, three is ideal because it fosters collaboration and creates accountability and shared responsibility. While teams are limited to three people, you are encouraged to share your learnings and insights with others who are contributing or working with you on your proposed solutions. 

Q. What makes a “good team?”
A. Here are some qualities that contribute to successful teams:

  • Time and capacity to attend live online sessions and commit to project work
  • Teammates with a variety of skill sets and backgrounds 
  • Experience and commitment to driving social justice change
  • Significant relationships and experience with the community/organization you plan to work with
  • Curiosity and openness to learning
  • Personal and professional development goals for the Fellowship as individuals and as a team
  • Project management skills and experience in advancing team-based projects
  • Experience working on the issues that are central to Fellowship project
  • Support/ a mandate within professional or community roles to participate in the Fellowship and work on team project

Q. Is there a fee to participate? 
A. No. There are no fees for the Leading Social Justice Fellowship. Your participation is supported by United Way of Greater Toronto and the School of Cities at the University of Toronto.

Q. What is the $1,500 needs-based stipend for? 
A. The Leading Social Justice Fellowship offers stipends of up to $1,500 per person to reduce barriers to participation for individuals. Applications will be available after acceptance to the Fellowship. Some barriers to participation might include but are not limited to: childcare or caretaking support, tech support, and/or time off from work.

Q. What is the $2,000 team project funding for?
A. Each team will have the opportunity to apply for $2,000 in funding to support project-related expenses. Grant applications will open after the Fellowship begins.
This funding is intended as seed money to help you participate and get started on your social justice challenge project. We understand that most projects will require further funding to reach their full potential. This fellowship’s seminar sessions will help facilitate connections and some skill-building related to project funding.

Q. What is the time commitment involved?
A. The Leading Social Justice Fellowship runs from June 2, 2022, to November 10, 2022 and includes an estimated 25 total hours of live online seminars on Thursday evenings. If a participant is unable to attend a session for personal or religious reasons, recordings and materials will be available on request.
Participants can expect to spend an average of 5-7 hours per week on Fellowship activities, including:

  • 2 hours/week team project working time
  • 1 hour of weekly personal and professional development time
  • 2.5-hour bi-weekly live online classes (June 2, 16, 30; July 14, 28; September 8, 22; October 6, 20; November 3, 10)
  • 2-hour monthly hybrid project workshop sessions (online or in-person)
  • 1 hour monthly online coaching sessions

Fellows will work together on their team project and plan a virtual public presentation and therefore must be able to meet regularly with their team members and complete related work.
Successful candidates will receive a comprehensive program schedule prior to the first session.

Q. What projects are eligible? What qualifies as a social justice challenge?
A. We welcome any social justice challenge that impacts your community or organization. This can include a wide range of projects but should be focused on dismantling inequity and/or advancing equity and inclusion within your community or organization. 
We encourage you to pick an issue that you are particularly passionate about and/or a project that you are already working on. This could be a problem that makes you angry or frustrated or an opportunity that gives you hope and inspiration. We understand that your project will likely evolve over the course of this Fellowship. Your approach and solution to the challenge do not need to be fully formed when you apply, but you should have an idea of where you’d like to start.
Social justice challenges: 

  • Exist across sectors and communities
  • Are found in public, private and community organizations as well as a variety of formal and informal community settings
  • May include connections between social, economic and environmental issues and often require an anti-racist or decolonizing approach

Your project:

  • Should address social, economic and/or environmental inequities in the GTA. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • housing and homelessness; inclusive employment; climate justice; gender-based violence; reconciliation; systemic racism; food justice; inclusive infrastructure and city-building
  • Could be a new project or a challenge you are already working on that could benefit from new tools and/or skill sets to create the change you wish to see 
  • May focus on a specific starting point for this transformation. In the long term it should work towards systems-level transformation of your community, organization, or sector

Q. Do I need to be able to attend the sessions in-person?
A. The bi-weekly classes, team coaching sessions and project workshops will all take place online and team members are all expected to attend. During the Fellowship and as alumni there will be optional workshops and networking events, some of which may be offered in person at the UofT St. George campus. 

Q. What are the timelines for project completion?
A. The seminars will run from June to November 2022. Fellows will give a virtual public presentation on their project progress after the seminars conclude, but we understand that projects will be longer-term in nature. Assistance is available for teams in planning and hosting their presentations.

Q. What does the selection process look like?
A. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of representatives from the School of Cities, the United Way Greater Toronto and the community. Successful applicants will be contacted in May 2022.

Q. What happens with my proposed solutions in the application and during the Fellowship?
A. Your ideas and solutions will remain your own; this is not a competition. This fellowship is an educational opportunity for you to further develop your leadership skills focused on social justice. It is also designed to help you and your team to advance a solution of your choosing. 

Q. I have feedback for you. How can I get in touch?
A. We welcome your feedback, questions, and concerns. Please feel free to reach out Daniel Cowen or Sophie Duncan at LSJF@innovaconsultinginc.ca   

Other questions? Please reach out to Daniel Cowen or Sophie Duncan