MtS LivEx Student Bursary: Reflections on designing a bursary program for students with lived experience of housing precarity

The 2022 LivEx Bursary is now open for applications! The deadline to apply is June 8 2022.

The Making the Shift Scholars with Lived Experience Network, or LivEx, launched our first call for applications for student bursaries in October of 2021. We developed this bursary with the recognition that educational trajectories are particularly difficult for people navigating homelessness, and there are significant barriers for us to attend post-secondary institutions. This bursary aims to support students–involved in college, graduate or post-graduate studies, or other training and education–with lived experience of housing precarity. 

In December 2021 we were able to award the inaugural bursary to 5 students across Canada, at different stages of their academic careers. Each bursary provides financial support toward the things that enable participation in continuing learning, and bursary recipients have the choice to use their funds for whatever best supports them to engage in their education (tuition, costs of living, research, etc.). The application process was developed by members of LivEx, who are all students or researchers with lived experience of homelessness themselves. 

Moving forward to our next call for submissions for the Fall 2022 semester, we are revisiting the process for the LivEx Student Bursary. While we knew the bursary is one of the few of its kind in Canada, we did not anticipate the high volume of applications we would receive. We received 37 applications from across different regions and contexts in Canada, and were impressed by the level of engagement, quality of work, and passion each applicant provided us. Our revision of the process will aim to make it more transparent, while maintaining flexibility and care. We hope to provide specific opportunities for those following different trajectories in their learning, including a bursary for college and trades, two undergraduate bursaries, and two graduate bursaries. The high volume of applications and interest have confirmed to us that financial and networking supports are integral to ensuring students with lived experience can not only remain within post-secondary institutions, but thrive as they apply their lived expertise and skills to their work across disciplines.