2022-23 Urban Challenge Grant: Call for Proposals


Call for Proposal: SofC's Urban Challenge GrantsThe School of Cities’ focus in 2022-2023 is on Migration, Belonging and Thriving, and we seek to fund research from different disciplines that crosscut the areas of migration, belonging, and thriving or that tackle the interactions between these areas. We invite proposals for grants of up to $75,000 from University of Toronto faculty and postdoctoral fellows from the humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering. Proposals are due January 16, 2023, with decisions to be made by late March, 2023.   
The School of Cities has established this grant program to support timely research and knowledge dissemination and community engagement to address emerging research questions, as well as to provide seed funding for pilot studies that could ultimately lead to transformative or high-impact research. The goal of this program is twofold. First, within the University of Toronto, we seek to build multidisciplinary scholarly communities of practice around complex urban challenges in order to advance knowledge. Second, we are keen to uncover new understandings and strategies to help communities in Canada and around the world thrive. 
Participating researchers will meet regularly with the School of Cities research community, engage with external stakeholders, and work closely with School of Cities staff on ways to maximize the impact of research through relevant dissemination events, ranging from exhibits, public performance, documentary film production or storytelling to policy briefs or data visualization.  

About the School of Cities

The School of Cities is a solutions incubator for urban-focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the general public to explore and address the complex global challenges facing urban centres. A living laboratory, the School leverages urban data and lived experience to improve policy and decision-making, and collaborates with communities around the world to make local decisions that make cities and urban regions more sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and just. 

2022-23 Theme: Migration, Belonging and Thriving

Across species, communities form, reform, and devise ways of handling difference and facilitating thriving. The social and physical infrastructure of cities can either support or divide communities; it can either cultivate diversity or foster segregation in nature and society. The built, technological, and natural environment of the city, as well as its institutions, can create a sense of belonging among its inhabitants that gives them the opportunity to develop their capabilities, participate and thrive. How we understand and design these environments and institutions, including dismantling the systemic structures of discrimination (from racism and sexism to agism and ableism) shapes our ability to thrive. Cities emerge from migration, and the ability of cities to integrate new arrivals and promote diversity is key to the world’s future.

Researchers across disciplines are engaging with the idea of thriving, seeking to support vibrancy in cultural, natural, and economic life. From science and engineering to health and the humanities, research focuses on the attachment to place and community, along with the struggle to belong and express differences. Sociologists, political scientists, legal scholars, and others develop understandings of marginalization, the importance of agency, and the ability to intervene for more equitable outcomes in the urban context. Scientific research examines diversity and inclusion among different species inhabiting cities, while computer scientists and engineers tackle these issues via studies of algorithmic bias and accessibility, among other topics. Health researchers explore the interplay between equity, exclusion, loneliness and our physical and mental health. Artists and humanities scholars probe the existing urban structures and imagine social alternatives. We welcome proposals from across a wide range of disciplines, and encourage researchers from different fields to work together to develop new theories and evidence. Proposals may examine migration, belonging and thriving as either separate or interlinked issues.

For this call, we are encouraging joint proposals with Singapore Management University faculty in the School of Social Sciences, where migration and social cohesion is a key theme. We will hold two joint workshops in late October to help foster new collaborations. If you are interested in joining, please contact School of Cities Director Karen Chapple.


The Principal Investigator must be a faculty member at the University of Toronto (tenure or teaching stream); we will also consider applications from postdoctoral scholars with a letter of support from a faculty member. Applicants must be in residence at the University of Toronto and not on leave during the grant period. Preference will be given to junior faculty members and faculty from disciplines previously underrepresented at the School of Cities.

Application Format

To apply, complete the application package below and submit to research.sofc@utoronto.ca 

Proposals are due January 16, 2023, with decisions to be made by late March, 2023.

Application package requirements:  

1. Cover letter that includes:

2. Short, itemized budget with budget justification, including other sources of funding

3. Description of the proposed research, not to exceed five double-spaced pages in 12-point type with one-inch margins all around, exclusive of references or appendices. The proposal should carefully describe:

  • the issue(s) to be examined;
  • hypotheses to be evaluated (if relevant);
  • methodology proposed;
  • data sources to be used (including whether the data sources are already available to the PIs and how and in what timeframe those data sources will be acquired if not already available);
  • potential stakeholders to engage;
  • anticipated results of the research, including their potential implications for motivating public policy, professional practice change, or community action

4. Curriculum vitae (no more than 3 pages) for each investigator

5. For postdoctoral scholars only, letter of support from University of Toronto faculty member. 

6. For joint proposals with Singapore Management University faculty only: Explain how your proposal relates to or complements that of colleagues at SMU.


Budget and Eligible Expenses 

  • Salary for postdoctoral scholar(s) or graduate student researcher(s)
  • Hourly wages for undergraduate project student assistant(s)
  • Reimbursement for purchasing of data, software, travel related to the execution of this research, or other research expenses explained clearly in the application* 
  • Light refreshments for meetings, speaker honoraria etc. for working groups or research convenings
  • Funds must be spent by October 31, 2024.

*limitations and guidelines on reimbursable expenses are described in the University of Toronto Guide to Financial Management


Selection Criteria

The Selection Committee for this call will consist of members of the School of Cities Executive Committee and Faculty Advisory Council, an external stakeholder, and the Director of the School of Cities.

Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. The relevance of the topic to the School of Cities’ focal theme of Migration, Belonging and Thriving
  2. The potential usefulness of the proposed research for the advancement of scientific or humanistic knowledge and/or the development and implementation of public policy, practice change, or community engagement;  
  3. The appropriateness and soundness of the research design, including choice of data and methods of analysis; 
  4. The appropriateness and soundness of the knowledge mobilization and sharing plan;
  5. The appropriateness and soundness of the EDI plan;
  6. Demonstrated ability of research to be conducted in the timeframe established in this grant (e.g. availability of personnel and/or data);
  7. The reasonableness of estimated costs;
  8. The qualifications and experience of personnel.
  9. For joint proposals with Singapore Management University faculty only, the extent and relevance of joint activities proposed with colleagues at SMU.


Project Timeline and Commitments

  • May 1, 2023 – Project start
  • September, 2023 – May, 2024 – Participation in monthly seminar series  
  • September, 2023 - May, 2024 – Participation in 1-2 stakeholder roundtables
  • May - December, 2024  – Preparation of knowledge mobilization products working with School of Cities staff 
  • October 31, 2024 – Grant period ends 
  • December, 2024 – Symposium presentation and participation



All inquiries, including questions on the application process, budget, and research issues, should be directed to research.sofc@utoronto.ca.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • May I submit multiple proposals?
    There is no limit on applications; you may submit multiple proposals either as sole P.I. or part of a team. Please note however that our goal is to select a diverse group of participants in order to include as many researchers and disciplines as possible. Be strategic!
  • May I submit a proposal as an outside (non-U of T) researcher, so long as a U of T faculty member is the P.I.?
    We welcome partnerships with outside institutions, however, we are not able to provide any funds to the outside partner. For this call, we are encouraging joint proposals with Singapore Management University faculty in the School of Social Sciences, and will hold two joint workshops in late October to help foster new collaborations. If you are interested in joining, please contact School of Cities Director Karen Chapple.
  • Will it be more competitive to submit one research initiative with multiple projects, or just one project?
    You should write the proposal that best meets the selection criteria for the grant program and also is the most rigorous research design.
  • I am research faculty with full SGS status. Will my application be considered?
    Yes, we will consider applications from research professors.
  • If our proposal requests a high level of funding, does this disqualify us from being funded as a smaller project? Conversely, if we request a small level of funding, does this prevent us from being considered for larger funding?
    We encourage you to structure your budget for the best possible funding scenario. The review committee may reduce the amount awarded to successful projects based on overall demand for funding, but the committee is unlikely to suggest offering more funding than you have proposed in your application.