The Community Mobilization in Crisis project exists due to the vision of the former President of the University of Ottawa, Allan Rock. In the fall of 2014, Allan Rock secured an anonymous donation of $50,000 as a seed fund to conduct a feasibility study and develop a framework for a tertiary education program for Syrian refugees. This seed fund was used to hire a project coordinator and three research assistants who carried out background research and established the parameters that became the foundational blocks of CMIC. This donation also funded a field visit to Lebanon which was instrumental in identifying needs and barriers on the ground and established our longstanding partnership with the American University of Beirut.
In addition to this initial seed fund, in-kind support was provided by the office of the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and the President’s Office in the form of research assistantships. This combined support during the initial phase of the project led to the development of a concrete framework for a certificate program for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
As a part of the University of Ottawa’s broad commitment to supporting refugees in October 2015, the Vice-President’s Research Office provided CMIC with an additional $42,000 to support our project development. That funding was used for two purposes: exploratory research into the state of community mobilization education in the region, and fundraising for the development of the curriculum and for the projected operating costs of the projected certificate. Fundraising involved a multi-step process of identifying funders, networking, developing partnerships and writing grant applications. In total, eight grant applications were submitted to both government granting agencies in Canada and abroad and several foundations from Fall 2015 to Winter 2017. In order to consolidate knowledge and build connections, the CMIC team hosted a conference in June 2016 with participants from Lebanon, Palestine, Canada, and Switzerland, where we explored models of community-engaged learning and online and blended learning models, particularly in Canadian indigenous communities, and conflict-affected and refugee communities in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Kenya, and Europe. Members of the CMIC team also visited Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine in 2016 in order to build our networks of organizations engaged in community empowerment and mobilization work throughout the region.
We are happy to announce that we have received funding from the Open Society Foundation in the amount of US$150,000 to begin curriculum development and run a pilot training in Lebanon over the next year and a half.