Call for Proposals

Call for Proposals (2024)

The Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts welcomes the submission of research proposals that can inform the practice, programming, or curricula of a community music school. In a continued partnership between York University and Community Music Schools of Toronto at Jane Finch (expanding from the Regent Park School of Music), we support special projects aimed at researching and bolstering community arts in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood and beyond.

Value: Up to $20,000

Deadline: July 2 nd, 2024

Project duration: May range from 6 months to 18 months, beginning as early as September 2024 and ending no later than January 2026

We invite the submission of any project proposal whose research objectives will benefit community arts organizations including Community Music Schools of Toronto (CMST) at Jane Finch. Projects may or may not directly intersect with CMST programming. While the proposed research may not require participation from CMST, the outcomes should benefit CMST along with other community arts organizations.

Proposals should outline how the proposed research project will benefit Community Music Schools of Toronto at Jane Finch based on consultations with the school (see contact information below). To this end, we are particularly interested in projects that address the following research priorities:

  • Inclusive and innovative programming
  • Cultural safety
  • Culturally appropriate content and culturally appropriate learning opportunities
  • Accessibility (including but not limited to: students with disabilities, youth in conflict with the law, youth facing mental health challenges and youth in care)
  • Social justice
  • Non-hierarchical pedagogy (ie: models for co-teaching/co-learning)

We invite prospective researchers to explore how their interests may intersect with CMST’s updated curriculum, Nurturing the Musicking Spirit (Attariwala, 2021), and their Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression Implementation Action Plan (Kafele, 2021). The above are CMST’s research priorities for the 2023/2024 school year. However, we welcome additional ideas for projects that may inform curriculum and programming. Proposals are also encouraged to build upon previous Helen Carswell Chair research wherever possible. To view our comprehensive list of previous research topics, visit our “Research Projects & Topics” page on our Helen Carswell website here.

Eligible Applicants

  • All faculty and graduate students from any department at York University are encouraged to apply. We welcome interdisciplinary research and cross-disciplinary collaborations. A background in music is not required to apply.
  • Previous Helen Carswell recipients are eligible to apply though preference will be given to applicants who have not received funding in previous years. The Helen Carswell Chair assists and encourages grant recipients to explore external funding opportunities if they wish to continue or extend their projects
  • A maximum of one project per applicant will be granted funding each adjudication

Details for the proposal

  • Please consult the attached Appendix A: “Checklist and Guidelines” to format your proposal and attach the required supporting material
  • Research question(s) should show direct benefit to CMST at Jane Finch
  • Deliverables of the project should be clearly indicated
  • If the research directly involves participants from CMST, the proposal should include a brief statement that attests the applicant has met with CMST in advance of submitting a proposal. This statement should be signed by CMST.
  • Proposals should outline the project’s impact, both short term and long term
  • Proposals should describe how the findings from the research project can be implemented in long-term practice at a community arts school such as CMST
  • Additional support and personalized recommendations to clarify how CMST specifically can implement the research findings is strongly encouraged
  • Project methodologies must follow York University’s health and safety protocols for virtual and in-person research as updated on the “Better Together” page here
  • Projects must follow the CMST’s health and safety protocols if involving their students. Please note: CMST protocols may differ from York’s protocols
  • Projects must adhere to York U’s audiovisual recording privacy policies here
  • Proposals must be accompanied by a detailed budget, timeline, 2-page CV, supporting letters (if applicable) and bibliography
  • York University is an Affirmative Action (AA) employer and strongly values diversity, including gender and sexual diversity, within its community. York University encourages Aboriginal (Indigenous), Black peoples or members of other visible minorities (racialized groups) to self-identify as a member of one or more of the four designated groups: women, members of visible minorities (racialized groups), Aboriginal (Indigenous) people and persons with disabilities. The Affirmative Action program can be found at by calling the AA line at 416-736-5713. Applicants wishing to self-identify as part of York University’s Affirmative Action program can do so by downloading, completing and submitting the form found at:


  • Proposals are to be submitted via email to Joel Ong  ->
  • The deadline for the submission of proposals is July 2nd, 2024.
  • Applicants will be informed of decisions in August 2024.

General Terms for the Project:

  • Projects involving human participants will require ethics review and funds are disbursed only AFTER ethics clearance. Information on research ethics is here.
  • Researchers will be required to write a final report for the Helen Carswell website.
  • Researchers will be required to participate in at least two dissemination activities to share their research. These events could include but are not limited to conference papers, CMST Professional Development workshops, seminars and colloquiums.

Prospective researchers are strongly recommended to contact both of the following representatives before submitting a proposal:

Dr. Joel Ong, Helen Carswell Chair:

Dr. Richard Marsella, Executive Director, Community Music Schools of Toronto:

More about the Helen Carswell Chair:

The aim of the partnership between Community Music Schools of Toronto at Jane Finch, the Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts, members of its advisory working group, and York University’s Knowledge Mobilization team, is to support and encourage a growing cohort of graduate and faculty researchers whose collective multi-disciplinary research projects will benefit children and youth from the Jane and Finch community in the following ways:

  • Improve and/or increase the impact Community Music Schools of Toronto at Jane Finch has on children from marginalized neighbourhoods
  • Engage and help drive new knowledge and practice to community-based groups serving children in the Jane and Finch community
  • Conduct rigorous academic research exploring the many benefits of community music programs and the links between music and learning
  • Significantly benefit children from high-risk neighbourhoods and fortify community music programs globally by informing their programming through publications, conferences and other forms of knowledge mobilization

For more information on our past projects and activities, please visit the Helen Carswell Chair’s our website at or our Yorkspace page.

More about the Community Music Schools of Toronto (formerly RPSM):

Community Music Schools of Toronto at Jane Finch is a key partner in the Helen Carswell Chair. This community music school provides access to subsidized private, group and ensemble music lessons to children and youth aged 4-18 in the Jane and Finch community. By removing the financial obstacle for music lessons, CMST gives young Jane and Finch residents the opportunity to discover a wide variety of musical interests from piano, strings, voice, brass, wind and percussion to electronic music, song-writing and recording. Their curriculum is flexible and evolving so that students may explore a diversity of musical genres and achieve meaningful social and musical goals throughout their studies. For more information, visit or watch their introductory video here.