Cities Are Reducing Poverty

2020 has been an undeniably tough year for people around the world. Yet, there have also been glimmers of positive news that give us hope. In February, Statistics Canada released data indicating that poverty has ended for over 1 million Canadians. Major accomplishments like this are achieved through the accumulation of many large-and-small incremental changes over years. This report provides just a snapshot of what we knew about poverty and poverty reduction at the beginning of 2020.

CRP Poverty Reduction Report

Vibrant Communities - Cities Reducing Poverty's 2020 Impact Report celebrates this major milestone in the fight to end poverty and provides a snapshot of how CRP members are making significant contributions towards this achievement, as well as several other major systems changes and population-level impacts on poverty through collaborations and upstream innovations. Below are just a few highlights from the network exemplifying the great work being done by 80+ local collaboratives tackling poverty:

Bridging communication between sectors and addressing gaps | Winnipeg’s Poverty Reduction Council is bridging relationships between non-profit community job trainers, youth and businesses in order to increase job opportunities for Indigenous youth job seekers. The WPRC also encourages safe job experiences by educating corporate management about Indigenous history and its legacy, supporting management to educate their workforces about Indigenous history and its legacy, and to develop anti-racism and cultural safety practices. In 2019, seven companies reached out to an Indigenous employment company; three reached out to individual Indigenous job seekers; three added or changed an Human Resource practice or policy to support Indigenous engagement; one reported an increase in Indigenous candidates applying for jobs; and four companies engaged nine Indigenous job seekers for a job, internship, job shadowing or term position.

Introducing subsidies that ease the cost of living burden |The City of Edmonton introduced a Ride Transit low-income transit pass and expanded eligibility from 10% to 25% above the Low Income Cut Off (LICO), now benefitting 66,000 Edmontonians. The pass increases the access of adults and youth to the transit system, to employment opportunities, and to recreational activities, and reduces isolation and stress. Respondents from a 2018 evaluation study said that they no longer had to choose between food, rent and the bus.

VC-CRP’s 2020 Impact Report includes these and many more inspirational examples of successful, innovative actions that Cities Reducing Poverty members are undertaking under eight domains: Income and Employment, Housing, Transportation, Education, Health, Early Childhood Development, Food and Financial Empowerment.

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The Evolution of Collective Impact: Inspiration from the Field

City Street 53It’s been almost a decade since John Kania and Mark Kramer’s paper Collective Impact appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and launched a new field of practice for changemakers around the world. I still vividly remember my own reaction reading Collective Impact for the first time and the joy at discovering an approach that validated my own experiences leading a multi-sector collaboration to improve community well-being of my rural region. I also remember experiencing 'aha' moments as I considered each of the five conditions of Collective Impact and noted how this focused understanding of them and their interaction offered insights that I could use to strengthen my own collaborative work.

The practice of Collective Impact has expanded dramatically and is now being used widely to address complex issues across a wide variety of scales, including at the neighbourhood, regional or community-wide and national level. In my new paper Evolving the Practice of Collective Impact: Inspiration from the Field, I profile inspiring examples of Collective Impact in action at each of these scales and leave with a deepened appreciation of the flexibility of this framework and also the tremendous ingenuity of change-makers in honouring the essence of Collective Impact while also adapting it to their unique contexts.

Collective Impact 3.0, written by my colleagues Liz Weaver and Mark Cabaj, has added an important paradigm-shift to the original CI framework that offers changemakers a way of considering and deepening their Collective Impact strategies in ways that broaden and strengthen community ownership and advance both programmatic and systems-change strategies through their CI work.

Moving forward, I believe the next evolution in the practice of Collective Impact requires us to consider how they might capitalize on opportunities to align and collaborate with Collective Impact efforts sharing a similar focus across multiple scales in order to generate greater impact. As Elizabeth Sawin, an experienced systems-focused changemaker recently noted, “systems shift most effectively when change is happening at multiple levels with some sort of loose congruence…and change is held back when a preponderance of effort is focused at a single layer of a system while other layers are frozen in place or even changing in an opposing direction.” For practitioners of Collective Impact we need to find ways to make it easier and more effective to align and leverage our efforts across scales, and figuring out how to more regularly and effectively do that is an important question to explore as we continue to find ways to accelerate the effectiveness of Collective Impact.

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Prototyping Community Change Through Youth Engagement
BY: Kimber Kunimoto

Youth Engagement

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What does meaningful youth engagement look like? How can we engage youth in community change? What are common youth engagement challenges and how do you overcome them? These are a few of the questions that we asked as we launched Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF), Tamarack’s strategy to enable youth engagement and community change in 13 communities across Canada. Youth leadership and engagement are crucial components of this collective impact strategy and so, CBYF launched a Commitment to Youth Engagement. This includes:

  • A Discovery Phase and Empathy Map development to gain insight into the needs of youth and how they want to be meaningfully engaged
  • Hosting a webinar to hear stories of innovative youth engagement approaches and lessons learned
  • Co-designing a set of Guiding Principles for meaningfully engaging youth with lived and living experience (youth aged 15 to 30 who face challenges as they transition into adulthood, through education and employment) and a Guide to Youth Engagement

We hope that these resources will help community changemakers better understand principles and best practices for youth engagement. We hope that you will have gained insights into the needs of youth, stories and examples of youth engagement, along with common challenges that may come up with youth engagement and how to resolve them.

Some key themes that emerged from our work

  • When engaging youth (and people with lived and living experience), be aware of intersectionality and systemic barriers. Consider the role your organization is playing and if you are enabling and replicating these barriers through your work, rather than creating solutions.
  • Meaningful engagement involves demonstrating that an organization is committed to authentic collaboration and not simply tokenizing an individual or a group of people to check a box.
  • Often, youth are passionate about community change, learning from others and want the chance to make a real impact in their community. Design opportunities that build capacity for youth and include youth from the beginning.

The Commitment to Youth Engagement prototypes will be used in CBYF’s work until spring 2021, with ongoing evaluation to ensure the effectiveness of the Guiding Principles and to continue learning. Following our Prototype Phase, feedback and evaluation will be used to further iterate and refine the Commitment.

How can CBYF’s Commitment to Youth Engagement help you engage youth in community change?

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A Collaborative Governance Framework for Youth

34389813953_8d6b5f90f8_oAt Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF), we are always considering how might we bridge the vast Collective Impact literature with the work our 13 communities are doing to create tangible, collaborative, and meaningful opportunities with youth.

A few weeks ago, Tamarack's Sylvia Cheuy and I had the pleasure of presenting Designing Your Organizing Structure (With Real Examples) at Champions for Change 2020, hosted by the Collective Impact Forum. It’s a tongue-in-cheek title that speaks to a deep appetite for stories about how others have put theory into practice, and what they learned from their experience.

During the presentation, we shared the Collaborative Governance Framework – a dynamic model that visualizes core elements and roles of a Collective Impact governing structure, including a backbone organization, Leadership Table, and Working Groups. Here’s a great tool that you can use to map your own initiative’s Collaborative Governance structure.

To ground the theory, we highlighted four CBYF governance structures. Each community is developing an evolving backbone infrastructure that reflects their unique local ecosystem and ways of working together.

  • In Kahnawá:ke, Quebec, this First Nations reserve has an established Collective Impact movement which is supported by multiple Action Teams, a Roundtable Advisory, a Steering Committee, and a Support Team. During an Open House event last year, the community selected a Holistic Health and Wellness initiative for youth as a priority, which aligned with CBYF goals.

  • In Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, a strong commitment to youth engagement is demonstrated by an all-youth backbone team and a heavily youth-represented Leadership Table. A two-way relationship between the Youth Council and Leadership Table ensures that each group is aware of and contributes to the right conversations.

  • In Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, there is a long history of collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations, from which a CBYF governance structure naturally emerged. In fact, a Leadership Table of more than 25 members was formed when two existing working groups merged together.

  • In Chatham-Kent, Ontario where a Collective Impact initiative was already in place, the Leadership Committee added a youth focus which expanded the scope of poverty reduction efforts in Chatham-Kent overall. The new CBYF component benefited from the Prosperity Round Table’s ten years of knowledge and experience bringing together local organizations, businesses, and government representatives.

We thank each community for sharing their story and we encourage you to dive into their work by visiting the various links below.

We hope these examples ignite an excitement to join the CBYF journey! Learn how you too can create meaningful opportunities with youth by signing up for the CBYF newsletter.

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The Latest from Tamarack

Upcoming Events & Courses

Collective Impact 3.0: Designing a Movement for Change

Virtual Workshop 

November 24 | Register for the November Workshop

December 10  | Register for the December Workshop

Join Tamarack’s Sylvia Cheuy and Liz Weaver to learn about the pre-conditions and conditions of Collective Impact through community examples, and the value and impact of Collective Impact as a movement building strategy.

Participants will be given tools and frameworks for building commitment and co-creating a compelling, shared strategy for change that can be used in both in-person and virtual environments. Tamarack values small group interaction and workshop environments. We are intentionally limiting each virtual workshop to 50-60 participants to ensure that all participants maximize their learning and connection.

Learn more and register

2020 Collective Impact 3.0 Square


A Professional’s Guide to Working in Citizen Space

Virtual Workshop 

December 2 | For organizations working with community

December 3  | For organizations working with youth

Join Cormac Russell, a global ABCD practitioner, who will lead participants through a learning journey to show how we can shift to citizen and youth-centered community development approaches.

Learn more and register

ABCD Virtual Square


Foundations of Community Engagement

Online Course | Access course materials anytime and learn at your own pace

Join Tamarack's Lisa Attygalle, Director of Community Engagement, and over 180 changemakers in this new online course designed to build a foundation of knowledge and practice for your community engagement work.

Through video lessons, case studies, readings, and activities, you'll dig into the role of community, who should be engaged, community engagement techniques, how to overcome challenges, and how to evaluate your engagement activities.

This course is available to use at your own pace, but you'll be learning alongside a diverse group of Tamarack Institute learners. Engage in comments and questions on the online platform, and join Lisa for monthly small group coaching to get more personalized feedback and insight.

Learn more and register


View the rest of our 2020/2021 Learning Calendar

2020 CE Foundations Square Black



Poverty Perspectives

Date: November 11, 2020

Speakers: Adaoma Patterson, Kerry Nolan, and Kate Gunn

Climate Change Champions

Date: November 19, 2020

Speakers: Lori Hewson, Mary Pickering, and Ana Gonzalez Guerrero

From ‘For’ People to ‘With’ People; Creating Equitable and Resilient Places 

Date: November 25, 2020

Speakers: Afsaneh Tafazzoli, Marveh Farhoodi, Shanna-Kay Smith and Negar Hashemi