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June 27, 2016

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has recently awarded Fanshawe College a two-year Partnership Development Grant from the Community and College Social Innovation Fund to investigate the impact of improving digital literacy among marginalized women. The project, entitled “Women's Empowerment through Collaborative Learning in Community (WeCLiC): A Transliteracy Project to Enhance Social Inclusion and Occupational Possibilities for Marginalized Women” will run until March 2018.

Among key findings from a previous Fanshawe-funded community-based participatory research (CBPR), "A community-based participatory needs assessment with street-based sex workers in London, Ontario", was participants' desire to learn how to effectively use computers and the Internet. According to participants, knowing how to use computers, how to search for and appraise information, connect with family and friends, and participate in online forums would open up opportunities for retraining, would provide ways to connect with others, and would create greater independence and increase access to information that is most relevant to the individual's need.

Led by professor Jodi Hall, faculty in the School of Nursing at Fanshawe College, a community working group which includes members from Western University, Family Service Thames Valley, Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion and Literacy London Inc. will investigate how the development of a transliteracy learning site partnership between post-secondary institutions, community partners and marginalized women enhance social inclusion and occupational possibilities among program participants.

Partnering with SafeSpace London, a volunteer run support centre for sex workers, allies and women in crisis, will allow researchers to continue with a participatory-based model of research, ensuring relevancy to women's needs and lives and promoting community inclusion in the research process.

“Fanshawe is very proud of this important community based work being led by Professor Hall, and supported by research funding provided SSHRC,” says Dan Douglas, dean, Centre for Research and Innovation. “This type of activity is the hallmark of college education that connects the community with students, and faculty to address real world issues, concerns and needs.”

SafeSpace is a volunteer run support centre for sex workers, allies and women in crisis currently operating out of EVAC at 757 Dundas, London Ontario. SafeSpace has been operating since 2009. Our model is one of empowerment with the goal of meeting women where they're at and helping sex workers operate with safety and with dignity.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is the federal agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences. By focusing on developing talent, generating insights and forging connections across campuses and communities, SSHRC strategically supports world-leading initiatives that reflect a commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world. For more information, visit the SSHRC website.


"On behalf of myself and my colleagues at Western University, we would like to express how thrilled we are to be continuing our research partnership with SafeSpace. With SSHRC's investment in WeClic: Women's Empowerment through Collaborative Learning in Community, we will work alongside SafeSpace, and the women who access their services to develop a transliteracy learning program that brings the classroom into community.”

Professor Jodi Hall, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Science, Human Services and Nursing, Fanshawe College, Assistant Adjunct Professor, Arthur Labatt Family, School of Nursing, Western University


"We are excited to move forward with this project at SafeSpace and hopeful we can begin to lessen the digital divide between the women who access our services and the rest of our community."

Julie Baumann, SafeSpace Coordinator and Co-Founder


"SafeSpace is excited to again partner with Fanshawe's School of Nursing and other community groups to facilitate this very important and highly relevant project. Through WeClic, SafeSpace will expand our services dramatically, meeting the needs of a wider population with the development of long lasting, impactful transliteracy programming. We are proud to commit to this project and to continue our research in partnership with Fanshawe."

Holly Weaver, SafeSpace Coordinator and Co-Founder


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada


This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.