BIF 2017 banner 


Congratulations to the two (2) 2017 Big Ideas Fund winners! We received great ideas that addressed environmental justice and equity at OCAD U. Check out the winning projects below and follow their journeys on facebook at #ocaduBIF2017!

- Andre Baynes -

Lack of diversity is one of science fiction’s biggest weaknesses and one of its most dangerous characteristics. The situation makes it difficult for people of colour to imagine their work ever having a home in the genre or even that they can exist in these fantastical futures at all.
Based on the core idea of inclusive storytelling, the Utopia Project aims to address representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) perspectives to make sure these stories get told. This project combines an interactive art installation with social research.

- Kaylyn Hamlyn and Bree Rappaport in collaboration with Ivan Maycuk and Josiah Tsang -

By making food production visible on campus, we hope to not only reduce food costs to make it more accessible to students, but we also hope to create an ongoing conversation around sustainability, food security and community.
This project to grow food on campus for Hot Lunch and the Student Union Cafe will create not only an aesthetically pleasing environment within the school, but will also contribute to cleaner air, benefit mental health, provide multiple harvests throughout the year, and invite the student body to make positive environmental changes within their own lives and see first-hand how sustainability can impact their community.


Thanks to the student jury members in identifying how environmental justice and equity can be weaved into action, and thanks to OPSEU Local 576 for annually providing financial support.



Application period is now closed! click for the application form

You can send it by email to or drop it off in person at the ODESI office (Level 6, 230 Richmond St. W.).

What is the Big Ideas Fund?

The OCAD U $1,500 Big Ideas Fund is a micro-grant initiative by the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives (ODESI) and its Student Advisory Committee. This initiative encourages OCAD U’s creative thinkers, artists and designers to identify social justice, labour & economic rights, and equity issues that impact our community and to take action through innovative ideas. 

What types of Ideas will be considered?

Your idea can be anything: organize an event, create an installation or public art piece, write and produce a zine or publication, curate an exhibition, create an awareness campaign or data visualization, execute a design solution… any idea that has an empowering, positive and unifying impact on campus is welcome! 

If you’re not sure about how something will be executed yet, that’s OK. Just have a solid concept and initial thinking about how you would get it done.

What is the ODESI Student Advisory Committee?

The ODESI Student Advisory Committee is a group of OCAD U students who are committed to equity in art and design education. The committee brings a student perspective to OCAD U’s equity initiatives by participating in strategic planning and governance on campus. The Student Advisory Committee also leads the OCAD U $1,500 Big Ideas Fund.

What if I’m selected and then am struck by this feeling that I have no idea what I’m even doing, which then causes me to spiral into existential doubt?!

Winners will be matched with a staff or faculty mentor who can support you in realizing your project. If there is a specific mentor you would like to work with, let us know. If not, we will work with you to find the  right match.  Additionally, ODESI’s Student Advisory Committee will be available to help you problem solve if needed.

We will also pop by from time to time to film, photograph and meet with you to capture the successes and challenges of your project. 

Who can apply?

Open to all OCAD U students. Students from all disciplines and levels of study are encouraged to submit ideas. Applications can be submitted individually, in a group or as a class. If you are applying as a class, please speak to your instructor first.  

Is it easy to apply?

Just complete and submit the attached application form by the deadline of March 16, 2017. You can send it by email to or drop it off in person at the ODESI office (Level 6, 230 Richmond St. W.).

The ODESI Student Advisory Committee will then review submissions and invite short-listed students for an informal meeting. This will be a chance to give more information about your idea and how you plan to spend the $1,500.

The number of grants varies each year. One (1) grant will be awarded in the 2017 cycle!

When do I have to complete my project by?

Your project must be completed by August. Of course, your project ideas might take way less time -- but August 18, 2017 is the very last deadline for finishing up. If you are in your final year or planning to be away over the summer, that's OK -- you are still eligible to apply! Just demonstrate how you will get your project done by the deadline. Special consideration may be given to projects taking place during the 17/18 academic year - on a case-by-case basis.

What do I get again?

  • $1,500 paid up-front!
  • Mentorship!
  • Bragging rights! 

What can I use the $1,500 towards?

Your $1,500 grant can be used towards almost any expense needed for your project – such as materials, rentals, travel costs and artist fees for yourself and individuals assisting you. 

Maybe you want to use the $1,500 on buying a truckload of marbles. That's cool. Just make sure you can demonstrate that what you're going to do with them meets the selection criteria (listed in the application package) and through that -- the goals of the fund! 

Any tips for creating a winning application? 

Yes! Take a look at the "selection criteria" listed at the beginning of the application package and make sure your project meets each of the criteria, and that you have explained why or how in answering the application questions. 

Where can I go for more information or assistance? 

There are lots of ways to get the assistance you need to complete an application:

  • Follow us: On Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and announcements
  • Contact us: Email anytime with questions. We will try and get back to you within 1 business day. Or call 416-977-6000, Ext. 4862. 
  • Drop by a Big Ideas Fund Booth: Student Advisory Committee members will be available throughout the month of March in the lobby of 100 McCaul St. at various times of the week. (To be announced) Come by and get any assistance you need to complete an application. Also: free popcorn. 
  • Attend the Big Ideas Fund Drop-In Session: This is a 2-hour drop-in session where you can get one-on-one support from the selection committee -- no matter what stage you are at. Get assistance in refining or developing your project idea, help in completing your application form or answers to any questions you might have. The drop-in session will be announced shortly.

What were the projects by the previous winners?


Dana Prieto: "Critical Soups"
A monthly student-led get-together to share food and conduct dialogue about the sociocultural, environmental and geopolitical impacts of Canadian extractive companies on food and land sovereignty of Indigenous and international territories.

Emily Norry: "Whose Art Counts"
A series of lectures on the pedagogy of Art History, highlighting a variety of important figures who are often excluded or marginalized from mainstream history.

Meghana Ravi, Simran Dadlani, Krutika Galgalikar: "Footprints", now called "The Kaleidoscope Project"
Re-thinking multicultural understanding and an exposure of international student experience through a video compilation and a curated exhibition.


Pixelation - Exhibition and Panel Discussion, Zvikokomborero (Zviko) Mhakayakora

Pixelation - an exhibition and panel that interrogated the ways in which contemporary art and design perpetuate or challenge anti-blackness, took place as part of the Black History Month events at OCAD University.  Zviko[mborero], a Graphic Design student, responded to a gap she identified in opportunities for Black students to showcase work, network and build community, and a way to forge spaces that foreground conversations of equity and anti-racism among artists and designers. Zviko[mborero] organized a call for submissions, curated an exhibition and planned a panel discussion to coincide with the exhibition. Project Mentors: Shamina Chherawala, Andrea Fatona & Sheila Sampath

Handbook for Faculty and Students on Supporting Queer and Transgender Students, Vicky Avramopoulos and group.

Vicky (Printmaking) and a group of students created a resource for faculty and students on how educational spaces (classroom dialogues, critiques, and curriculum) can be designed to meaningfully engage LGBTTQQI2SA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirit, Allies) students, particularly when their art and design entry-points are closely immersed in their identities.  The handbook was created based on a series of open consultation sessions that will be held inviting students to share their experiences, recommendations and best practices.  Faculty mentor: Anthea Black

Revitalizing the Yellow Staircase Murals, Lisa Frost 
This project sought to organize a student-led initiative to revitalize the yellow staircase featuring work by, and representing the voices of, OCAD U's diverse equity-seeking communities.  Through a collaborative, participatory approach, this project aims to create a stronger sense of community and belonging. Due to unforeseen circumstances, this project was tabled.


Pop-Up Galleries, Stephanie Hier 
Stephanie Hier (Drawing & Painting) curated a series of pop-up galleries, along with launching an arts collective which hosted a series of pop-up exhibits to raise questions about access to space for emerging artists and to foster opportunities for showcasing work by students who typically may be under-represented in traditional gallery spaces. Faculty mentor: Sarah Nind 

Way-Finding Signage, Justin In & Carl Jo

Justin In and Carl Jo (both in Environmental Design) researched,designed and installed temporary pieces of way-finding signage at 100 McCaul Street. Their project responded to an access barrier they felt needed to be addressed and reflected a student perspective on way-finding signage on campus. Faculty mentor: Chris Moorehead 

Interactive Video-Portals, Katie Switzer & Sayyad Glassford 
Katie Switzer (Sculpture & Installation) and Sayyad Glassford (Industrial Design) collaborated to build interactive gaming/video relay portals that were situated in several common areas across 100 McCaul St. Their project addressed what they have experienced as a lack of opportunity to interact with peers outside their own programs. Their project also explored how a gaming/communication device can be designed inclusively with accessibility criteria in mind. Faculty mentor: Doug Back 

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