Our approach to research impact begins with a recognition that we must have a solid understanding of knowledge users and their needs, different pathways for mobilization, as well as the factors that enhance or inhibit the uptake of research and the conditions necessary for policy and practice to incorporate new knowledge. Through our knowledge mobilization strategy, MtS generates new insights, cultivates and mobilizes innovative and effective solutions to youth homelessness, and supports implementation of effective policy and program models by governments, funders, and communities alike.
The research to impact cycle is designed to provide decision makers and practitioners at the national, regional, and local levels with critical and timely information, practical, evidence-based, and innovative policy and program models, resources, and technical supports that will inform the implementation of effective strategies to prevent youth homelessness. Promising initiatives emerging from these systematic incubation efforts will be advanced through the innovation pipeline to be further developed, assessed, and brought to scale. Each of these components are described below:
The first part of the Research to Impact Cycle involves exploration, which includes identifying what we know about prevention, who is doing this work, and what we do not know. Informed by stakeholders including researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and people with lived experiences of youth homelessness, we carry out knowledge synthesis gap analyses as a key strategy for identifying, adapting, and mobilizing knowledge on effective and innovative programs, practices, and policies related to the prevention of youth homelessness. Our gap analysis involves literature reviews, the mapping of where we know preventive interventions are being applied, and an international innovation review supported by our global partners. The first gap analysis was conducted prior to the launch of Making the Shift and formed the basis of the research agenda. The second gap analysis was conducted in late 2020 in consultation with stakeholders including Making the Shift’s Research Management Committee. A key outcome of this analysis informed the ongoing development and implementation of our research agenda.
Research and Evaluation
In response to the knowledge gaps identified by exploration, MtS funds research and evaluation projects that will uncover new and practical knowledge. Our research agenda focuses on five themes: 1) Shifting to prevention through early innovation; 2) Sustaining successful exits from homelessness; 3) Enabling health, well-being, and inclusion; 4) Enhancing outcomes for Indigenous youth; and 5) Leveraging data and technology to drive policy and practice. In consultation with the Research Management Committee, we develop open and targeted Calls for Proposals based on the five research agenda themes. Expressions of Interest are first reviewed by MtS senior management to ensure they are aligned with the MtS vision and theme areas and then sent to the Research Management Committee for approval. Then, select researchers are invited to submit a full proposal which is sent to research theme leads for external review (minimum three per proposal). Reviewers assess the proposals and send the top proposals to the Research Management Committee, who makes the final recommendation for funding to the Board of Directors. Below are some examples of our current funded research projects categorized by research theme:
Theme 1: Shifting to Prevention and Early Intervention
- Michael Ungar, “Youth Transitions from Child Welfare to Precarious Living Conditions: A Mixed Methods Longitudinal Study of Risk and Protective Factors”
- Cheryl Forchuk, “Preventing Discharge to No Fixed Address – Youth (NFA-Y)”
- Janice Victor, “Ai’aoskiikowaata (providing guidance to youth): Blackfoot Knowledge as a Path to Wellness”
Theme 2: Sustaining Successful Exits from Homelessness
- Sean Kidd, “A National Study of Tertiary Prevention Models for Youth Exiting Homelessness”
Theme 3: Enabling Health, Well-being, and Inclusion
- Maritt Kirst, Examining the Effectiveness of Integrated Housing, Mental Health and Addiction Service Models for Youth Experiencing Homelessness and Concurrent Disorders
Theme 4: Enhancing Outcomes for Indigenous youth
- Carol Kauppi, “On the Move: A Mixed Methods Study of Cree Youth Homelessness and Migration”
- Alex Wilson, One House Many Nations: Addressing Youth Homeless on First Nations
Theme 5: Leveraging Data and Technology to Drive Policy and Practice
Targeted Call for Proposal
Learn more about our research projects
In addition to our program of funded research, we go deeper in planning, research, and development through a series of Demonstration Projects. Demonstration projects are intended to produce an evidence base for policies, practices, and program models where rigorous research and evaluation support practice, determine program fidelity, shape outcomes measurement, and support continuous improvement. As a policy instrument, demonstration projects can contribute to evidence-based decision making, effective funding allocation, and support taking innovation to scale in a way that demonstrates fidelity to a program model or intervention.
Dissemination, Uptake, and Capacity Building
In order for research to achieve impact, findings must be synthesized, disseminated, curated, and mobilized for different audiences. Part of this work entails developing government relations strategies that engage policymakers and legislators on new findings and their policy implications. Another aspect to this work is supporting capacity building at the community level and with service providers on how to implement effective preventive programs and practices. We do this by disseminating and sharing tools and resources we have developed. We also support uptake and early adoption through Training and Technical Assistance, as well as nurturing peer-to-peer learning and staff exchanges, so policy makers and practitioners will engage with each other to support knowledge sharing and building. Resources as well as TTA are designed to support service providers within the homelessness sector as well as those who work in public systems that are implicated in youth homelessness (e.g., teachers, police officers, lawyers, etc.). We also support uptake through the Scholars with Lived Experience of Homelessness Network (LivEx), communities of practice, and other forms of knowledge exchange.
Full Implementation to foster scale and impact
Our ultimate goal is to transform the youth-serving sector by scaling innovative, evidence-based policies, practices, and programs that prevent and end youth homelessness. A measure of impact for MtS is mobilizing the knowledge we produce in order to scale innovative policies and practices for which evidence is being generated. The McConnell Foundation refers to the process of scaling up to change institutions, policy, and law; scaling out to replicate innovations in different communities; and scaling deep to produce a cultural shift by transforming hearts and minds towards the change you want to see.
Our full implementation strategy will involve deepening our sector outreach and engagement regarding effective prevention-based policies, programs, interventions, and practices. This will also be supported through the community systems planning provided through the Systems Planning Collective. We continue to build on our government relations strategy to align policy and funding to support community adoption and implementation of prevention initiatives and also work with the private sector and philanthropic organizations to support this transition. We continue to monitor the impact of our work through a comprehensive research agenda focusing on our own knowledge mobilization efforts as well as an assessment of uptake across the country.