Meet past GEEK recipients

Supporting care in the community

The GEEK (Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Translation) program provides evaluation expertise, support, and funding to community-led programs and services for brain health and people living with brain disorders.

The goal of GEEK is to enable community-led organizations to evaluate their programs and generate evidence for learning, improvement, and impact, ultimately increasing the success of their programs. GEEK provides 2-years of funding to sustain, scale and/or spread these programs, and promotes evaluation capacity building to improve the quality and quantity of evidence-based care in the community.

Get to know the recipients of GEEK funding.

2022 GEEKs

  • The Indigenous Brain Story

    Health Nexus Santé
    The Indigenous Brain Story program will create a revised curriculum for brain neuroscience training by adapting the Brain Story course to Indigenous contexts and implementing the course in up to five communities. The curriculum on brain science will be co-developed and co-led with Indigenous partners, and targeted to Indigenous youth, pregnant individuals, and recent parents with the goal of promoting brain health.
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  • Living with Stroke - Virtual Delivery in Community Settings

    March of Dimes Canada
    The Virtual Living with Stroke program is a community-based support and education program for people impacted by stroke, delivered virtually by March of Dimes Canada, and co-facilitated by staff and peer mentors with lived experience of stroke. The goal is to scale the program across Ontario to help participants gain confidence to manage the challenges of living with stroke, and to connect with others going through a similar experience.
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  • Functional Seizure Program

    Epilepsy Toronto
    The Functional Seizure Program is an individual evidence-based psychotherapy program for people living with functional seizures that is delivered in a community setting by trained counsellors. The program focuses on increasing a person's sense of agency as it relates to their condition so as to better their quality of life.
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  • Mental Health Supportive Initiatives for Vulnerable Newcomers Program

    Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) Toronto
    The new Mental Health Supportive Initiatives Program provides mental health programs for vulnerable newcomers to teach tools to use while experiencing difficult emotions. Different programming methods are used based on the group needs, culture, and language. Programs include a psychoeducational group for teaching and practicing coping skills to manage anxiety and stress.
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2021 GEEKs

  • 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.
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  • Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) 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.
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  • 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.
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2020 GEEKs

  • Peer-Administered CBT-Informed Support for Postpartum Depression

    Kids Can Fly (Brantford)
    Kids Can Fly’s ‘Peer-Administered CBT-Informed Support for Postpartum Depression’ program train women who have recovered from postpartum depression to deliver a 9-week group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-informed support program to women currently struggling with postpartum depression.
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  • U-First! for Care Partners

    Alzheimer Society of Ontario (across Ontario)
    Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s ‘U-First! for Care Partners’ program provides informal care partners (family members and friends) across Ontario with consistent hands-on training, essential skills, and best practices in the care of persons with changes in behaviour due to dementia and other cognitive impairment.
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  • Mashkikiiwininiwag Mazinaatesijigan Wichiiwewin (MMW) Video Conferencing Program

    Surrey Place (Northwest Ontario)
    Surrey Place's MMW Program provides specialized clinical services and resources from urban Toronto to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) living in rural communities in Northwestern Ontario, via videoconferencing technology.
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2019 GEEKs

  • Educational Pathway to Employment

    Christian Horizons (Toronto)
    Christian Horizon's 'Educational Pathway to Employment' program develops career specific post-secondary education programs for people with developmental disabilities as well as mental health challenges, giving them the opportunity to gain the education and skills needed to access employment.

    Educational Pathway to Employment

    Christian Horizons (Toronto)

    In 2019, the Educational Pathway to Employment Program, a partnership between Christian Horizons and Humber College, was awarded one of the Ontario Brain Institute’s (OBI) Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Transition (GEEK) initiative grants.

    The Educational Pathway to Employment program is a post-secondary nine-month culinary certificate program for people with disabilities. The hands-on specific training offered through the program allows those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to successfully access an education that can lead to employment, support improved health and well-being and not feel excluded from society.

    The program advances the message that access to education is a fundamental human right, seeking to break down barriers to post-secondary education and increasing career specific educational pathways for students with disabilities that lead directly to employment outcomes.

    In being named a “2019 OBI-GEEK”, the program received $80,000 in funding to be provided over a 2-year period.

    The funding from OBI-GEEK has allowed Christian Horizons to develop resources and tools in order to better evaluate the results delivered through the employment program – including employment and job retention.

    An outcome that was successfully achieved by Michelle Tarco.

    After graduating with the Basic Culinary Skills certificate from Humber College, Michelle worked with an employment coordinator from Christian Horizons to help her create a dynamic photo resume that would allow her to stand-out when applying for jobs in the market.

    When Michelle received an interview request for a position in the food industry, she was more than ready. As part of this interview process, Michelle was asked to prepare the cheese and meat at the food prep station. The employer was extremely impressed to observe Michelle’s knowledge of food and workplace safety, as well as her attention to detail and ability to answer questions with confidence.

    So impressed with her interview, Tim Horton’s decided to hire Michelle on the spot! In addition to enjoying her employment, Michelle has made sure to stay connected with her friends from her graduating class and had a key role in planning her class’ Humber reunion.

    Michelle’s journey, and the overarching accomplishments of the Educational Pathway to Employment Program, directly meets the goals set-out by the GEEK initiative. In particular, this program has increased the quantity and quality of evidence-based programs, with Christian Horizons and Humber College partnering to fill a gap in the education system, helping to create more opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to access employment training programs.

    Watch Michelle's story.

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  • Brief Intensive Case Management – Acquired Brain Injury

    Ontario Brain Injury Association (Nipissing District)
    OBIA's 'Brief Intensive Case Management – Acquired Brain Injury' program connects individuals living with acquired brain injury and co-occurring diagnoses of addictions and/or mental health to primary care and other services. The program is developing an integrated model of care to support these individuals with complex cases.

    Brief Intensive Case Management – Acquired Brain Injury

    Ontario Brain Injury Association (Nipissing District)

    Severe brain injuries can dramatically alter the trajectory of someone’s life. Take the case of Michael, not his real name, who suffered from a severe brain injury as the result of a motor vehicle collision. His injury meant that he struggled with poor memory, impulsivity, dysarthria, chronic pain, emotional dysregulation, poor money management and many other problems.

    With all the changes in his life he experienced a considerable amount of anxiety and depression. A physical altercation landed this individual in the court system, and that’s when the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) stepped in to help him and his legal team navigate the criminal justice system, which is not set up for individuals living with brain injuries.

    This meant attending numerous meetings – and making sure they were scheduled to accommodate the disability, and seeing the individual through the probation process, a community reintegration plan, and several medical appointments. A journey that ultimately resulted in this individual being accepted into an Acquired Brain Injury Program.

    A situation like this can be taxing on any individual, and especially a person with a brain injury. The team at OBIA worked closely with this gentleman’s family physician, his personal injury lawyer, a community-housing worker and many other experts in navigating the system. Thanks to this integrated model of care, this gentleman has another chance at life and the best possible care for his recovery, something that may not have been possible without a community-led resource such as OBIA.

    OBIA’s Brief Intensive Case Management – Acquired Brain Injury Program oversees a vast number of diverse situations. After being named one of the Ontario Brain Institute’s GEEK recipients, receiving $140,000 over two years, they’ve been able to achieve much more success.

    OBI’s GEEK funding was targeted to bolster the Brief Intensive Case Management, an initiative that connects individuals living with acquired brain injury and co-occurring diagnoses of addictions and/or mental illness to primary care and other services. The program supports an integrated model of care to support these individuals with complex needs.

    Most importantly, the support from OBI-GEEK program allowed the Brief Intensive Case Management program to remain operational, while also creating an opportunity to secure further funding. The additional financial support, OBIA has become better positioned to evaluate the effectiveness of their program.

    “When I met with the original funder of this program and they learned that OBI-GEEK had funded this program with a strong evaluation component, the funder was eager to re-invest in the program,” said Ruth Wilcock, executive director with OBIA. “They have given us money to expand the program to another community in North Eastern, Ontario.”

    The funding has supported clients in accessing essentials such as housing, income support, medical care, specialized appointments and lessening the burdens experienced by caregivers.

    In a very different scenario, OBIA staff supported an older woman who experienced memory loss as the result of a brain injury. She was currently residing in an apartment with rent that was more than she could afford with her sole income of Canada Pension Plan Disability Payments. Sadly, due to memory loss, the woman neglected to send in paperwork to keep her on the wait list for a Rent Geared to Income Unit in her community – a list that individuals sit on for many years.

    OBIA was able to advocate on her behalf and see her placed back where she was on the wait list. However, currently in her area there is such a shortage of safe affordable housing that a unit was still not available. As she could not maintain her apartment due to her financial situation, OBIA connected her with the local housing worker and worked together to find her something affordable for the time being. Their team also contacted Ontario Disability Support Program to request a top up for her Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit and attended those appointments with her as well. She is now residing in a one-bedroom apartment and has transitioned to other income supports.

    Brain injury can take a toll on a person’s wellbeing and if they happen to land into mentioned situations, they find it hard to manage their health, keep up with their responsibilities and maintain a healthy life. These are just two examples of the diverse situations that are experienced by Ontarians living with brain injuries and the unique ways that OBIA is able to step in and assist.

    The funding and support from OBI-GEEK program allowed OBIA to develop a case of support for their work and were successful in securing follow-up funding from other sources. Thanks to the generous support from community donors, OBIA’s work will continue and the individuals depending on their help will finally see light amidst the darkness.

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