Lethbridge College’s ongoing commitment to support equity, diversity and inclusion on campus and in the community received a significant boost, thanks to a new grant from the Government of Canada.

The two-year, $400,000 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Institutional Capacity-Building Grant will help the college identify and overcome systemic barriers that impede the career advancement, recruitment and retention of underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. Specifically, the funding will enable the college to hire an EDI strategist and form a formal EDI committee; create an EDI strategy; and provide resources to students, faculty and employees from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups to carry out their own research and to encourage research related to EDI.

“This is a monumental grant that will help ensure our college community is inclusive to all,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “With this grant, we will be able to build on the inclusive work already underway in our college. Our community is at its strongest when people with a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences have an equal opportunity to thrive.”

Lethbridge College is one of just 12 Canadian post-secondary institutions out of 60 applicants chosen to share close to $4.8 million in funding as part of the 2020 competition of the EDI Institutional Capacity-Building grant.

The grant builds on the foundation of the Dimensions pilot program, in which the college was chosen to participate in 2019. Over the course of 2019-20, college employees working as the Dimensions self-assessment committee collected quantitative and qualitative data about college initiatives relating to EDI, college-wide attitudes about institutional commitment to and implementation of EDI initiatives, and the barriers facing underrepresented and/or disadvantaged groups within the institution. The research included an anonymous survey that polled nearly 400 employees about their experiences and perceptions of equity, diversity and inclusion at the college.

“To build a truly inclusive environment, an institution must be very honest about both its strengths and its opportunities,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Associate Vice President – Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “We have had those conversations, and this grant will enable us to enact best practices to fill any gaps that exist and build EDI awareness into everything we do. Our goal is to have the very best people involved in our organization and ensure there are no barriers in place that would keep the most qualified people from joining our team.”

This pilot funding program is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). NSERC is administering it on behalf of the three federal research granting agencies.

“When we have diverse voices and thoughts, we get more impactful results in science and research,” says The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “That’s why we are taking action to make sure that everyone has access to equal opportunities, treatment and recognition in the Canadian academic world. I applaud the work of Canada’s institutions to increase equity, diversity and inclusion in research and eagerly await the positive changes this will bring to the health, well-being and success of Canadians.”

The EDI work will be housed in the college’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE), which is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region. The CARIE team brings together researchers, community organizations and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications.

Research Infosource ranked Lethbridge College has one of Canada’s fastest-growing research colleges while earning its highest ever placement in 2020’s annual ranking of Canada’s top 50 research colleges. The college placed 26th on the top 50 list released by Research Infosource and ranked third in research income growth.