Determinants of social capital and differential success: Building a Better Life

Funder: Community-College Social Innovation Fund, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Researchers at NorQuest College along with their partners at the Edmonton Public Library and over 40 community collaborators are engaged in a three-year research project, funded by the federal Community-College Social Innovation Fund, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This project utilizes a community-built methodology that was developed in collaboration with over 40 agencies in the Edmonton area that serve the marginalized. It is a study that looks at social capital including the barriers people face and the strengths they use to transcend marginalization as they work to ‘Build a Better Life’.

September 2019 update:

The Better Life project came to a close on June 30, 2019. The final report, appendices, and all other project products* are available for download below.

The project had two objectives of connection and insight.

  1. Connection: to create research synergies, comprised of service providers to marginalized populations, municipal government, and researchers, to build cohesion around policy and programming issues.
  2. Insight: to learn how loneliness and self-esteem affect Social Capital, and how some can successfully use their Social Capital to strengthen their Human Capital to build better futures, while others have difficulty.

The final report includes:

  • Executive Summary & Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • All Participants – Survey & Focus Group Data
  • Subgroups: Indigenous, Immigrant, Canadian-born non-Indigenous, Problematic Substance Use, Ever Homeless, & Poor Health
  • What We Learned
  • References

Project products include:

It is our hope that this report provides encouragement to individuals in their personal journeys as well as practical information for the community. Please use and share this report and data products for your work in the community whether it be displaying a life map in a public space, creating a research methodology, or utilizing the findings to support your work.

Thank you to the everyone who worked with us to make this project possible. It was an honour to conduct this research with the community.

If reading this report generates questions you would like help answering please feel free to contact us. We are open to present data, to discuss next steps, or to develop further research ideas.

In partnership with:

Edmonton Public Library
Edmonton Public Library


Marlene Mulder, Principal Investigator
Research Analyst
NorQuest College Research Office

Bob Marvin, Principal Investigator
NorQuest College

Project Coordinator:

Colette Cornejo

Research Partner:

Edmonton Public Library

For more information: