The McConnell Learning Digest

Like many others, the McConnell team has been navigating inordinate amounts of information since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

Week to week, this informal reading digest captures some of the themes that are top of mind for Foundation staff and shares the resources that we’ve come across as we collectively respond to, and learn from our new context. Note: The learning digest is an informal collection of links and articles addressing themes that are currently top of mind for foundation staff, put together in the spirit of rapid learning and sharing. These articles have not been vetted and do not indicate Foundation funding interests or priorities.

July 31: Digest 15 – Who is allowed in? Immigration policy and COVID-19

COVID-19 has forced us to take a close look at who has the right to travel in and out of Canada and who can safely exist within its borders. This week, we look into how the pandemic has impacted the lives of immigrants across Canada, shifted immigration policy and provided us with an opportunity to reflect on attitudes towards newcomers.

July 24: Digest 14 – Are the kids alright?

While the realities of the COVID-19 crisis are overwhelming for everyone, they can be a different kind of scary for kids. This week, we dive into the impact that the pandemic is having on children, and the places, people and institutions that nourish their development and explore what better child and youth-serving institutions can look like.

July 17: Digest 13 – Thinking fast and slow through a crisis: Bias and pitfalls

The COVID-19 crisis continues to test the agility of governments and institutions whose decision-making is often cautious, slow, and risk-averse. This week, we look into how certain biases have played out in the crisis response and what pathways exist for better and more equitable decisions to be made across sectors as we move through the recovery process.

July 10: Digest 12 – Nuancing the finish line

With reopening underway across Canada, it is tempting to feel like we are nearing “a” finish line. This week, we dive into some of what is and isn’t known about how the COVID-19 health crisis might resolve. We also share lessons learned so far that could help us develop more equitable responses to the crisis as we work towards future finish lines.

June 19: Digest 11 – 100 days into a global pandemic

The health and economic impacts of COVID-19, and their uneven distribution across the population have shone a bright light on several pitfalls of current Canadian society. This week, we dive into what an intersectional lens on recovery efforts can look like, and share what we’re learning about building effective income support programs for the future.


June 12: Digest 10 – Looking back, moving forward

As we near the 100-day mark since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, this crisis continues to expose systemic disparities and impact the lives of people around the world. This week and the next, we’ll reflect on the measures and responses that have emerged and lay out areas for improvement and transformative positive change.


May 29: Digest 8 – A Just Recovery? Equity Considerations of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed both the vulnerability and the resilience of the social and economic systems we count on. This week’s digest dives into the equity gaps revealed by the current moment and explores some considerations to help pave the way for an equitable.


May 21: Digest 7 –  Building back better: Bold and creative solutions from across the globe

We’re continuously inspired by bold and creative solutions that are emerging across the globe. Through the lens of McConnell’s priority areas, this week’s digest highlights promising efforts that are being advanced in the journey towards a brighter post-COVID-19 future.


May 14: Digest 6 – The implications of re-opening on our priority areas

As governments across the globe attempt their best moves to loosen social distancing measures, we’ve highlighted some of the medium-term implications of re-opening economies through the lens of the Foundation’s priority areas.


April 30: Digest 5 – Equity considerations in reopening education and COVID-19’s impact on the charitable sector

This week, we  curated a deep-dive on equity considerations in reopening education. We also highlighted reflections on COVID-19’s impact on the Canadian charitable sector and how philanthropy is stepping up to support it to thrive.


April 23: Digest 4 – Reimagining financial systems and mental health responses

Many initiatives and responses to COVID-19 are emerging in the Social Finance community. This week, we shared some pieces that outline the financial mechanisms that are being unlocked. We also took a deep dive into different supports which are emerging in the mental health space.


April 16: Digest 3 – Data, imagination and McConnell’s virtual convenings

This week, there was keen interest in how data collection technologies are being used to address the crisis so we took a deep dive into personal data use and explored how COVID-19 is pushing us to envision new forms of digital public infrastructure. We also shared a few resources exploring the role of the imagination in building a post-COVID world.


April 9: Digest 2 – Indigenous perspectives and impacts of COVID-19 on food security

Indigenous communities’ responses to COVID-19 were top of mind this week, as the crisis continued to exacerbate the socio-economic challenges that many communities were already facing. We also took a deep dive into the impacts of the crisis on food security in Canada. 


April 2: Digest 1 – The clean energy transition, regulatory responses and our new virtual reality

In this first digest, we were interested in learning about the potential opportunities brought on by COVID-19 as we continue to advance a clean energy transition. We also explored how government regulations affect COVID-19 responses and in turn, how responses are altering policymaking. Finally, as our operations went 100% virtual, we shared some of our favourite tools and tips to reinvent virtual work.