Ontario Brain Institute Announces Funding For Community-Led Organizations

OBI-GEEK program to address unmet needs of the community and brings care closer to home

Three outstanding community-led organizations will receive $343,000 in funding and support from the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) over the next two years through their Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Translation (GEEK) program; an initiative targeting programs across Ontario that aim to improve the lives of people living with brain disorders by bringing care closer to home.

“Our GEEK program was developed to recognize and amplify the work being done on the ground by community-led partners who can help reduce the stress on the healthcare system and address crucial gaps in our community – so that care can be local, accessible and more personal,” said Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President & Scientific Director, OBI. “We've seen over the past year how the pandemic has amplified the need for sustainable, targeted and personalized care in communities across the province, and the GEEK program helps address that need.”

The winning groups of the 2021 OBI-GEEK program all address vulnerable communities with great need:

1. Family Navigation Project, (Greater Toronto Area): The Family Navigation Project provides free-of-charge support to youth ages 13-26 with mental health and addictions concerns and their families. Through the program experts help youth navigate and access the most appropriate services and resources.

2. The Acquired Brain Injury Transition Program, Vista Centre Brain Injury Services (Ottawa): The Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Transition Program supports the safe transition of ABI clients back to the community through a counseling partnership with The Robin Easey Centre of The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre.

3. Epilepsy-Specific Mental Health Program, Epilepsy Ontario (across Ontario): The Epilepsy-Specific Mental Health Program in Ontario delivers remote-based mental health services to people living with epilepsy in areas where there is no local mental health programming or Community Epilepsy Agency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the importance of having quality healthcare available close to home, and the 2021 winners of the GEEK program will play a direct role in providing that critical care,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “The Ontario Brain Institute is a leader in bringing together community partners to improve the health and wellbeing of Ontarians who are living with brain disorders and in increasing the availability of much needed community and home supports.”

With allocated funding of $1.1million over five years, a goal of OBI-GEEK is to help community-led organizations spread or scale their programs and build evaluation capacity to help secure long-term, sustainable funding. Three years in the running OBI-GEEK has supported nine community-led organizations continue their work supporting people living with brain disorders.

One such example is of Ontario Brain Injury Association’s Brief Intensive Case Management – Acquired Brain Injury – the program that connects individuals living with acquired brain injury and co-occurring diagnoses of addictions and/or mental illness to primary care and other services was able to secure four more years of additional funding after OBI’s initial investments.

While Kids Can Fly, a GEEK recipient in 2020, was able to grow their program that trains women who have recovered from post-partum depression, to deliver a nine-week group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy informed support program to women who are currently struggling with depression following childbirth. “Kids Can Fly is incredibly grateful for the funding from the OBI-GEEK program which has allowed us to grow and sustain our support for women experiencing postpartum depression,” said Sharon Brooks, Executive Director, Kids Can Fly. “COVID 19 increased the stress for postnatal women so more moms have been reaching out for help. The result was almost doubling our numbers of participants as well as confirming that the CBT model is successful when provided virtually.”

It’s results like these that Sugy Kodeeswaran from Greater Toronto’s Family Navigation Project is hoping to see for their own important work.

“We know that we are making an impact, but we also know there are more people we can be reaching,” says Sugy Kodeeswaran, Executive Director of the Family Navigation Project. “With support from OBI, we will be able to implement and expand our youth engagement strategy – which helps reach out to more young people directly who are struggling with mental health and addictions challenges.”

For more information on the 2021 OBI-GEEK winners, please visit the website.

Please note that all the 2021 OBI-GEEK winners are available for interview.

About the Ontario Brain Institute:

The Ontario Brain Institute is a not-for-profit organization that accelerates discovery and innovation, benefiting both patients and the economy. Our collaborative ‘team science’ approach promotes brain research, commercialization and care by connecting researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to improve the lives of those living with brain disorders. Welcome to Brain Central. Visit www.braininstitute.ca for more information. Follow us on Twitter (@OntarioBrain). Funding provided, in part, by the Government of Ontario.

The Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Translation (GEEK)program provides funding, evaluation expertise, and support to community-led programs and services for people living with brain disorders. GEEK supports the sustainability, scale or spread of these programs, to improve the quality and quantity of evidence-based care in the community.

For Information:

Allison Garber

Communications Consultant, Ontario Brain Institute


(902) 221-5254

Fatima Khan

Senior Lead, Communications, Ontario Brain Institute


(437) 999-6370