First research reports released from Hamilton Community Research Partnership – an innovative collaboration aimed at understanding the journey of Hamilton students

Hamilton (Nov. 30, 2022) – The Hamilton Community Research Partnership (CRP) is pleased to announce the publication of the first research reports from this innovative collaboration. By combining data from multiple school boards and postsecondary institutions, it is now possible to understand the journey of students in Hamilton from kindergarten through graduation of a postsecondary institution.

The CRP is a data-sharing coalition made up of six partners: The Hamilton-Wentworth public and Catholic school bards, McMaster University, Mohawk College, the Hamilton Community Foundation and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). These organizations came together to answer critical questions on student pathways and success, in the absence of a larger province-wide option.

In Ontario, information on a student’s educational journey from kindergarten through to postsecondary education (PSE) is tracked through the Ontario Education Number (OEN). However, data connected via the OEN is restricted to the Ontario government — and even then, OEN-linked data access is “limited and highly discretionary” preventing educational institutions, the PSE sector and the public from answering critical questions on student access and success. This creates an environment where Ontario is data rich, but information poor.

The CRP successfully built a resource that connected data across multiple school boards and postsecondary partners while also protecting student privacy — the first of its scale in Ontario. The publication of two companion reports The Power of Connected Data: Charting Student Pathways to and through Postsecondary in Hamilton and CRP Blueprint: How We Built a Community Data Infrastructure — mark the first products of a planned long-term partnership. They provide valuable insights into the pathways of students in Hamilton and a roadmap for other communities interested in pursuing this type of coalition.

Access to longitudinal data is critical to understanding how policymakers and practitioners can equalize opportunities for students—especially those who have historically been marginalized by and underrepresented in postsecondary

CRP Blueprint: How We Built a Community Data Infrastructure

While the CRP will continue to work together to maximize the potential of connected data to help improve student access and outcomes, a province-wide dataset would improve policy across Ontario. The CRP is making the following recommendations to the Ontario government:

  • Require that institutions collect consistent administrative and demographic data tied to the OEN.
  • Use the OEN to build a longitudinal data infrastructure for the province.
  • Make the anonymized data available for educational research.


The Community Research Partnership is a powerful example of the breakthroughs that can happen when institutions are willing and committed to sharing their own expertise and resources. It’s collaborations like these across organizations that help to address the system gaps that prevent students from achieving their potential.

Terry Cooke, President and CEO, Hamilton Community Foundation

We are very excited to see the first reports published from the Hamilton CRP. Good policy is built on good data, but unfortunately there is not a reliable, accessible source of data on the journey of students in Ontario. Through projects like the CRP, we demonstrate the power of linked data and conduct meaningful research that can improve the quality of postsecondary education. We need to continue our advocacy for access to provincially collected anonymized data in order to scale up this approach.

Janice M. Deakin, President and CEO, HEQCO

This project is a great example of the power of collaboration to further the pursuit of better understanding student educational pathways in Hamilton. By linking data from K-12 through postsecondary, we can illuminate those pathways and researchers can shine the light on barriers that we know exist and inform policy to break them down. We hope this positive example spurs further data collaboration across the educational sector.

Melissa Pool, University Registrar, McMaster University

The better we understand our students and their education journeys, the more prepared we can be to support them in their training. The Hamilton Community Research Partnership has more clearly defined the educational characteristics of our community and confirmed where our resources can be best focused to make postsecondary education accessible to as many people as possible, and to support those students on the path to graduation. This successful collaboration benefits students, educators and, ultimately, the greater community.

Dr. Cebert Adamson, Vice-President, Academic, Mohawk College

The Hamilton Community Research Partnership (CRP) was among the first research projects that I learned about when I joined Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The data infrastructure that was created within the partnership coalition in Hamilton is impressive, unprecedented, and can serve as a model for other jurisdictions in Ontario. This research emphasizes the need for intentional focus among educators to ensure that all pathways are made available to all students, particularly those who have faced barriers.

Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini, Director of Education, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Our interest in student achievement and well-being doesn’t end when they leave us in Grade 12,” says David Hansen, Director of Education for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School board. “The Hamilton Community Research Partnership highlights what we can do when institutions collaborate to best understand the entire continuum of a student’s educational path so as to increase the likelihood of success at all points along the journey. I think the partnership’s shared purpose is clear: to support equity of opportunity for all students in Hamilton.

David Hansen, Director of Education for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board