Research Grant Opportunities

The School’s mission is to convene urban-focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners, institutions and the general public to explore and address complex urban challenges, with the aim of making cities and urban regions more sustainable, prosperous and just. The School embraces equity and diversity as a source of creativity and inspired scholarship. The School aims to reflect the diversity of people and communities of the local urban region, and is especially committed to the active participation of underrepresented and equity seeking groups, especially Indigenous, Black, immigrant, and racialized people. 

The School will reflect a global sense of urbanism, with attention to the interplay between local and global contexts, and the relationships and networks that shape a sense of place. Locally, its scope will include the cities and metropolitan areas that comprise the Greater Toronto Area. 

The School’s core values will inform its partnerships, and it seeks meaningful collaborations with its partners, recognizing that communities and their members are not sites or objects of research, but actors and collaborators in knowledge-making projects.

The School will serve as a vibrant intellectual hub and living lab for faculty, graduate students and undergrads. It will provide opportunities for students to have firsthand experience in urban research and contribute to the undergraduate experience by increasing the profile of urban studies research and teaching at the University and engaging undergraduates across divisional boundaries in its research activities, and potentially internships with community groups.

  • Total annual budget: $200,000
  • Maximum per applicant: $50,000

Using a team-based approach that spans disciplines at the University of Toronto and involving partners from leading international institutions, large-scale, long-term projects will tackle the most vexing urban challenges by seeking to understand the fundamental components of a city and how they interact. The projects seek to not only develop the underlying theories but to also demonstrate their relevance in urban and community laboratories.


  1. Participation from at least four U of T departments.
  2. Participation from at least three U of T faculties.
  3. Participation from at least two U of T campuses.
  4.  Participation by at least one community group.
  5.  Participation by at least one city.
  6. Minimum team commitment of 2 years.

3-Stage Process

Stage 1: Challenge Interest Group Formation 

The first stage of the process is the proposal to form a Challenge Interest Group (CIG). The proposal is one-page (Appendix A) that identifies the urban challenge and the founding members (whose affiliations partially satisfy the above requirements). Examples of challenge topics could include: urban food security, affordable housing, innovative cities, resilient cities, urban governance, healthy cities, urban road safety, social inclusion, etc.

The School of Cities research pillar reviews all proposals and if accepted, will schedule and advertise to the urban research community a weekly or bi-weekly seminar series on the topic.

The purpose of the seminar series is to:

  • Provide a forum where interested faculty, including those outside of the founding team, can participate and present their perspective on the topic.
  • Provide a forum where outside experts, e.g., civil servants, community organizations, etc., can present their perspective on the topic.
  • Identify a team that satisfies the requirements above and develops a stage 2 proposal.

Challenge Interest Group Formation applications are currently closed.

Stage 2: Urban Challenge Exploration Grant

Stage 2 grants provide funding of up to $50,000 over a two year period for the Challenge Interest Group to undertake a primary research project on their topic of study. This research project must include at least one community partner. The Exploration Grant is meant to enable the team to foster new multidisciplinary research collaborations between academics and community groups, and launch projects that can scale-up and apply for larger external funding opportunities such as Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grants.

The funds can be used for travel, student stipends and research expenses. It is expected that the Urban Challenge Exploration Grant study will result in academic outputs and community-based impacts. Additionally, the result of a stage 2 project is a white paper on the challenge (at least 20 pages), and an Urban Challenge Project proposal. Appendix B defines the proposal requirements. Applications will be reviewed by a grant selection committee.

Stage 3: Urban Challenge Projects

The School of Cities is intent on supporting the scaling up of projects carried out through the Stage 2 Exploration Grant into long-term, large scale Urban Challenge Projects. The School of Cities will provide support with grant applications for funding from external sources. It may also provide matching funds or large longer-term grants subject to funding availability.