Navi Mental Health Wayfinder

2023 Inlight Research Development Grant Program

The Inlight Research Development Grants program will support the development of research projects, programs and teams that have a primary focus on post-secondary student mental health and wellness through research at the University of Toronto and academic partners.  

Funds Available
Up to $30,000 per award (please see streams for specific budgets) 
Grant Duration
One year, with automatic extension to 18 months 
Call for Grants Opens  December 4th, 2023
Deadline for Notice of Intent Submission  January 9th, 2024 (5 pm EST)
Deadline for Grant Application Submission  January 19th, 2024 (5 pm EST)
Anticipated Notice of Decision  March 31st, 2024
Anticipated Funding Start Date  April 1st, 2024


2023 Inlight Research Development Grant Program

Notice of Intent submissions are now closed. Full Research Development Grant Application submissions are due Friday, January 19th, 2024 at 5:00 pm EST. 

Background and Funding Streams

Inlight is an Institutional Strategic Initiative of the University of Toronto committed to improving post-secondary student mental health and wellness outcomes. By investing in high-quality, impactful research and driving research innovations into practice, Inlight is re-imagining how we support post-secondary mental health research on our campuses to enhance student mental health and wellness. We are working with students, faculty, researchers, staff, and administrators across our community to drive meaningful change in campus mental health. Inlight’s work is shaped by our vision and guiding principles. 

The Inlight Research Development Grants will support the development of research projects, programs and teams that have a primary focus on post-secondary student mental health and wellness outcomes through research at the University of Toronto and academic partners.  In addition to supporting early-stage research with the potential to catalyze larger projects (eg, pilot initiatives, case studies, high-risk/high-reward ideas), the research development grants will also fund other activities that are key to building research projects, programs and teams. Grants will be considered in the following three funding streams:  


Anticipated funding level 

1. Early-stage research with the potential to catalyze larger projects (eg, pilot initiatives, case studies, high-risk/high-reward ideas) 


2. Planning and partnership development activities to develop research teams and/or programs (eg, grant planning workshops, partnership development activities, and activities designed to enhance community and/or student engagement in research) 

[Funding requests in this stream should be commensurate with the scope of the activities planned, eg, a higher funding level may be anticipated for activities at a national vs. a local level] 

$5,000 to $10,000 



3. Knowledge synthesis projects that assess current knowledge to identify strengths and gaps in the currently available research evidence (eg, scoping review, systematic review, rapid review, realist review, umbrella review) 



Relevance to Inlight

Projects must have a primary focus on post-secondary student mental health, which is inclusive of mental wellness, mental illness and substance misuse. It encompasses the full length of a student’s journey—from transitions into post-secondary education to graduation; and the full range of student mental health experience—from community and individual well-being to clinical intervention, inside the classroom and out.   

Inclusion of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility and Indigeneity Statement: Inlight strives to be an equitable and inclusive community. We will proactively seek to increase diversity and representation among our members and strongly encourage applications from racialized persons/persons of colour, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal Peoples of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the diversification of ideas.  

Funds Available

The Inlight Research Development Grants Program will support projects that are designed to build research related to post-secondary mental health and wellbeing. We have an express purpose of funding grants at all three UofT campuses.  

Budget requests should clearly describe the required level of funding relative to the identified stream, and the nature of the planned activities. 

Eligible expenses: 

Eligible expenses must align with U of T’s Guide to Financial Management and guidelines on reimbursable expenses, and be aligned with the following categories: 

  • Salaries for postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, undergraduate project student assistant(s) or research staff  
  • Student engagement stipends, or knowledge user or elder honorariums for time spent supporting research project activities  
  • Reimbursement for purchasing of data, software, or other research- and/or knowledge synthesis-related expenses explained clearly in the application  
  • Travel and venue expenses related to the execution of the grant activities, including light refreshments and meeting room rental/AV costs for meetings, workshops, and networking/convening activities  
  • Consultant, facilitator and/or expert advisor expenses where nobody can be identified at U of T to fulfill this role – the justification must describe the need for external support, and relevant UofT procurement processes will need to be followed 

The following expenses are not an eligible use of grant funds, although can be described through in-kind contributions to the project: 

  • Equipment or administrative salaries  
Principal Applicant 

Applicants must meet the provostial requirements for a principal investigator at U of T, and must be eligible to hold research funding at the University of Toronto (U of T). 

Knowledge User – co-applicant  

All grant applications must have a co-applicant who is an identified knowledge user.Inlight knowledge users can include but are not limited to University of Toronto students, administrators, staff, and clinicians. Additional knowledge users can also be included as either co-applicants or collaborators. 


Team composition should include co-applicants and collaborators who bring the full range of perspectives necessary for the success of the project, including across UofT divisions and campuses, as well as community partner representation. In keeping with the vision of Inlight and the ISI program, to support inter-disciplinary research and collaboration, teams are strongly encouraged to include team members from different departments and divisions at the University of Toronto. 

Please note: 

  • We do not normally award more than two grants to a principal applicant within a 5-year period, and repeat applicants will not be given preference, but will be adjudicated together with new incoming applications. 
  • Multiple applications from the same Principal Investigator will be permitted within the same competition, but the projects should not be inter-dependent, and will be subject to the two grant maximum described above.
Notice of Intent Submission (due January 9)

The NOI details should be submitted through this form by January 9th, 2024, and include: 

  • Principal Applicant information 
  • Information on up to three co-Applicants (further co-applicants, as well as collaborators can be added at the full application stage) 
  • Title of the proposed project (max 25 words) 
  • Brief summary of the research project (max 150 words) 

Upon submission of the NOI, the applicant will receive a link to the Inlight Research Development Grant Application form.  

Please note: 

  • This step is to support planning for the adjudication of the full application, including identification of adjudicators who are representative of the divisions and project foci encompassed in the submissions – the NOI WILL NOT be adjudicated and all submissions may proceed to the full application stage 
  • The Principal Applicant cannot change between the NOI and full application stage – co-Applicants can change (this information is being collected to inform adjudicator/conflict of interest considerations) 
  • The title of the application can be modified between the NOI and full application stage, but should not be substantively changed 
  • No figures, references/knowledge mobilization products or hyperlinks should be provided at this stage. 
    Full Application Submission (due January 19)

    Applicants should prepare and submit the below documents. Once the applicant has prepared these documents, the applicant should complete the Inlight Research Development Grant Application Form (link will be sent via email upon submission of the NOI application form), and upload all of the documents through this form.  

    The Inlight Research Development Grant Application Template which includes:  

    • Principal Applicant information  
    • Signature from department signing authority confirming applicant’s eligibility to act as a principal investigator (as per eligibility requirements, above) 
    • Title and Lay Summary for the project 
    • Table of co-applicants and collaborators, including roles and anticipated contributions  
    • Outline of project including background/rationale, objectives, design and methodology, and anticipated outcomes related to post-secondary student mental health and well-being 
    • Summary of the strategic alignment with Inlight’s vision, mission and guiding principles and potential for impact 
    • Summaries of the plans to incorporate student engagement and EDIAI 
    • Requested budget and justification 
    • Appendices of references and figures – including required milestones and timeline figure 
    • A recent CV for the Principal Applicant (eg, Common CV, SSHRC online CV, etc.) – please highlight two to three key achievements relevant to the planned project, and Inlight’s vision, mission and guiding principles 

    Self-identification Survey: Please note, a self-identification survey is linked to at the end of the Inlight Research Development Application Form; however, completion of the self-identification survey is not compulsory and will not impact the adjudication of your application. 

    Data is being collected through this survey to ensure Inlight is proactively seeking to increase inclusion of racialized persons/persons of colour, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal Peoples of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the diversification of ideas. 

    Your data may be used for the purposes of program operations, planning, performance measurement and monitoring, evaluation, and audits. Only the Inlight Leadership team will have access to the survey responses. Individual data will not be shared as part of the adjudication process, or be accessed by anyone external to the Inlight Leadership Team. Aggregated data will be shared internally with Inlight team and advisory committee members to support review and redesign of programs. Aggregated data will only be shared publicly where data volume is sufficient to prevent identification of any individual. 

    Application & Adjudication Documents

    Notice of Intent 

    1. Notice of Intent application form 


    1. Research Development Grant Application Form (all documents are to be uploaded and submitted through this form by Monday January 19th– link will be sent via email upon submission of the NOI application form)  
    2. Research Development Application Template   
    3. A recent CV, with 2 to 3 key achievements highlighted 


    1. Research Development grant adjudication rubric  

    Prior to the adjudication process, a relevance review will be performed by Inlight leadership team members to determine that the research development project has a primary focus on post-secondary student mental health, and that it aligns with the Inlight vision, mission and guiding principles. Applications deemed not relevant will be withdrawn from the competition.  

    An adjudication committee will be formed that aims to be representative of the diversity of the University of Toronto community, including faculty (research and teaching stream), staff and students, as well as cross division and tri-campus involvement.  

    All members of the adjudication committee will declare any conflict of interest and remove themselves from application review if a conflict exists. Inlight follows the CIHR guidelines of conflict of interest: “a conflict of interest means a conflict between a participant’s (e.g., reviewers and observers) duties and responsibilities with regard to the review process, and a participant’s private, professional, business or public interests.”  

    All relevant applications will be reviewed by adjudicators and scored according to the provided rubric. All elements of the rubric will be equally weighted, and scores will be normed and averaged following the process developed by the School of Graduate Studies award adjudification committee  

    Conditions of Application and Funding
    • All applicants and co-Applicants will be automatically enrolled into the Inlight Networkand will receive communication on future Inlight opportunities and knowledge events.  
    • Grant recipients and co-applicants are expected to participate in and present (Recipients) at the annual Inlight symposium – collaborators are also welcome to participate 
    • Grant recipients and co-applicants may be asked to join Inlight grant program adjudication panels in subsequent years.  
    • Grant recipients must respond within four weeks to requests for updates on project progress (no more than a quarterly basis) during the year of funding, to support Inlight’s reporting activities, as well as to ensure continued timely payment of stipend installments.  
    • A final summary and impact report must be submitted to Inlight two months after the end of the funding period (May 1, 2025) or the research project conclusion (whichever occurs first) – a template will be provided by the Inlight team. Requests for an extension should be addressed to the Inlight email address, where possible 2 months in advance of this date.  
    Frequently Asked Questions

    I am not a tenure stream faculty, but am in an appointment where I am able to conduct research – am I eligible to apply? 

    Inlight follows the VPRI guidelines regarding eligibility to be a principal investigator. The faculty/departmental signature is required to confirm eligibility.

    Can I submit the same proposal to multiple streams? 

    Although an applicant may submit more than one proposal, each proposal should be substantively different and submitted only to the most relevant stream.  

    May I submit multiple proposals? 

    Multiple applications from the same Principal Investigator will be permitted within the same competition, but the projects should not be inter-dependent, and a principal applicant can normally only receive two grants in a 5-year period.   

    May I be an applicant on a research grant application as an outside (non-UofT) researcher, so long as a UofT faculty member is the principal applicant? 

    We welcome inclusion, partnerships and collaboration with partner institutions, and those individuals may be co-applicants or collaborators. However, we are not able to award funds directly to partner institutions.  

    Can the project have more than one principal applicant? 

    Each project will only have one principal applicant, but we highly encourage applicants to form diverse and collaborative teams with multiple co-applicants and collaborators.  

    Are students eligible to apply for Inlight research grants? 

    Students and post-doctoral scholars are not eligible to apply for Inlight Research grants as principal applicants. However, students and post-doctoral fellows, where permitted by their division/program, are permitted to be co-applicants and knowledge users. We also encourage graduate students leading existing student mental health research to investigate Inlight Fellowship opportunities  

    How many members are expected to form a team? 

    There is no number that is set but representation is expected to reflect the needed expertise and partners the research study is investigating.  

    Do principal applicants and co-applicants need to have training and experience in student mental health research? 

    It is strongly recommended that someone on the team has demonstrated experience related to the area of student mental health addressed in the proposal, and we encourage teams to highlight their experience in mental health and related fields if they do not have previous experience in student mental health.  

    Can I have existing funding related to the project application? 

    Yes other funding can be held, but the applicants must describe how the existing funding is not duplicative funding for the same activity being included in the Inlight application.    

    Are there eligible and ineligible expenses? 

    Yes, please refer to the list of eligible expenses to support project and budget planning in your application as well as guidelines on reimbursable expenses described in the UofToronto Guide to Financial Management. 

    What does it mean to be part of the Inlight network? 

    Joining the Inlight network provides the opportunity to connect with other researchers, students, providers and others involved in student mental health research as well as be invited to future Inlight research funding opportunities and knowledge events.  

    Should applications incorporate equity, diversity and inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) practices and approaches in their applications? 

    Yes, we encourage application to include EDIA in team composition, and project design and practices.   

    Is there an age range that Inlight supports in their research teams and participants? 

    We will consider any age ranges that connect with post-secondary student mental health.  

    Does the proposed project need to develop an innovation, intervention or technology? 

    Projects do not need to develop or link to an existing innovation, intervention or technology.  

    How is Inlight supporting Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility? 

    Inlight strives to be an equitable and inclusive community, and proactively seeks to increase diversity and representation among its members and we encourage applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous /Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. 

    How does Inlight approach sex and gender differences in mental health research? 

    Sex and gender differences exist in the research areas above, making sex and/or gender issues an important component of this research initiative. Applicants should consider sex as a biological variable and gender as a socio-cultural factor in their research.  

    To learn more about research at the University of Toronto, including policies related to Principal Investigator eligibility and holding research funds, please visit the Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI) website.