Vibrant Communities

Cities Reducing Poverty

Cities Reducing Poverty is a collective impact movement aimed at reducing poverty for 1 million Canadians through the efforts of local multi-sector roundtables and the alignment of poverty reduction strategies at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

In 2002, Tamarack, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and Caledon Institute of Social Policy created an action-learning experiment called Vibrant Communities Canada and worked with 13 cities to test if a place-based approach could move the needle on poverty. Their collective impact over ten years was significant with a number of cities reporting a 10% local reduction in poverty and an overall impact of the project on 202,931 low income Canadians.

Building on the success of Vibrant Communities, a movement called Cities Reducing Poverty emerged in 2012 and more and more cities have flocked to join this learning network year after year.

Members of Cities Reducing Poverty tackle poverty using a place-based, multi-sector community roundtable approach, and develop local strategies to address different facets of poverty, such as access to affordable transit, living wages, affordable housing, evidence-based social assistance, and more.

When citizens are marginalized because of poverty, our communities and cities suffer. We believe that through collective learning and action, the work of Cities Reducing Poverty will result in a more equitable, vibrant and healthier Canada. 


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Getting Started

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The Poverty Matrix: Understanding Poverty in Your Community

The Poverty Matrix is a useful framework for understanding the different groups of low-income residents and mapping out the extent and depth of poverty for each group in your community. The matrix describes poverty in the community using two broad categories. The first is the type or level of poverty someone might experience. This ranges from working poor to homeless with the categories of temporarily unemployed, persistently unemployed, and dependent poor in between.

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Top 100 Partners Exercise

Consider the top 100 people and organizations in your community that could help you realize the change you want to see. Imagine that they were working together to change the community. The easiest and least effective way for partnerships to emerge is to just let them happen. Use this Top 100 Tool to develop a strategy to identify and build strategic relationships in your work.

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How to Develop a Common Agenda for a Collective Impact

This paper written by Paul Born that provides a 'how-to' approach to developing a common agenda when working on a Collective Impact initiative. It is not meant to be prescriptive, but to provide a real life example of how this process has taken shape within Paul's experiences, and can act as a reference to fine-tune your own methodology.

Dive Deeper


A Collection of Poverty Reduction Strategies

This collection of poverty reduction strategies provides a glimpse into the work of eight Cities Reducing Poverty (CRP) members. It shines a spotlight on some of the poverty reduction efforts across Canada in diverse geographies and cities of different sizes. Read more to learn about the background and focus areas in which CRP members are concentrating their efforts, and to access full strategies for further information and inspiration.

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A Game-Changer Approach to Poverty Reduction Strategy and Evaluation

From a poverty reduction perspective, we are inundated with the voices of our partners and stakeholders, regularly adding our own voices to the mix as well. This article is about lessening the noise that envelopes us and increasing our capacity to make beautiful music together as we identify, act on, and evaluate our poverty reduction efforts.


Other Resources


What Does the Data Tell Us About Rising Poverty in Canada

Incomes are an important determinant of well-being and one of the more measurable aspects of poverty. Data can tell us how poverty affects groups of people differently, and how poverty is changing among and within them. This publication discusses how the forthcoming federal poverty reduction strategy must be rooted in evidence, must aim to put an end to widening income inequality, and must reflect the complexity of poverty by involving the many actors that influence and are affected by it.

TO Prosperity

TO Prosperity: Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy

Toronto’s vision by 2035 is to be a city with opportunities for all, and a leader in the collective pursuit of justice, fairness and equity. The city aspires to be renowned for having access to good jobs, adequate income, stable housing, affordable transportation, nutritious food, and supportive services. This plan reflects key concerns and issues prioritized by Toronto residents during a broad engagement process, with a focus on addressing immediate needs, creating pathways to prosperity, and driving systemic change.

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How Vibrant Communities are Creating Comprehensive Solutions to the Most Complex Problem of Our Times

This book explores the efforts of collaborative groups in six different Canadian cities where each one is guided by a desire to employ a comprehensive approach in tackling the interconnected cause-and-effect variables of poverty. It showcases case studies from these communities that provide a rich pool of learning about the multiple and complex factors underlying poverty, as well as the characteristics, challenges, and opportunities of reducing it through comprehensive and integrated responses.


Join a Community of Practice


Living Wage

This Community of Practice focuses on case studies, tools and techniques that members of collaborations use to research, analyze and affect living wages and employer human resource practices.

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Municipal Government Representatives for Poverty Reduction

This Community of Practice is for municipal or regional government staff who are responsible for, or directly involved in, poverty reduction efforts in their official governmental capacity.

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Provincial and Territorial Community of Practice

Provincial/Territorial Government Officials for Poverty Reduction

This Community of Practice is for government representatives of all provinces and territories who are responsible for, or directly involved in, poverty reduction efforts in their official governmental capacity.

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FINAL_CRP_VC_2018_WEB_map-456419-edited.jpgVibrant Communities City Convenor

This Community of Practice is for individuals who belong to the Vibrant Communities Canada - Cities Reducing Poverty network to share ideas and information about their local poverty reduction efforts.

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BC Communities Reducing Poverty

The BC CoP is a committed group of individuals with a common desire to learn from each other, to enable professional self- development, and to build capacities of their local poverty reduction initiatives. 

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ABCD: Healthy Neighbourhoods, Healthy Cities

This workshop will bring together over 250 community and neighbourhood development practitioners to explore the use of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and explore leading neighbourhood revitalizing techniques. We have brought together for the first time seven of the world’s top authors and practitioners in the field who will offer the opportunity for learners to earn a masters' certificate in either Asset-Based Community Development or Neighbourhood Revitalization.

Register Here