Leveraging Local Assets through Anchor Collaboratives

Posted on February 19, 2020
By Elle Richards
Local Assets

In January we heard from Nate Stephens of the Democracy Collaborative and Hanifa Kassam from the Toronto Poverty Reduction Office share their work of Anchor Collaboratives.

The Anchor Collaborative Network is made up of communities, anchor institutions, governments, and backbone organizations who share diverse approaches to equitable and inclusive community development. Collaboration among anchors and communities multiplies the effects of their coordinated strategies and demonstrates how the assets of large community institutions can spark change.

Anchor Institutions – public serving institutions such as universities and hospitals, anchoring local economies (one of Tamarack’s 10 good ideas for businesses reducing poverty) and Place-based Collaboratives – diverse, multi-stakeholder approaches to engage anchors in community wealth building at community scale, are powerful means for which to strengthen communities.

Anchor TO is a network of 17 public institutions in Toronto that work together to direct resources in socially responsible ways. The work of Anchor TO has been grounded in community wealth building drivers with social procurement, whereby public institutions leverage their spending to achieve social impact, being a key lever.

There may be several communities already operating this way but may not identify as doing so. What distinguishes the work? It is about building social systems, it is place-based, and it uses an economic framework.

What are the economic tools communities are using? Anchor Institutions spend a lot of money, they are also rooted in communities long-term. The City of Toronto uses the economic power of institutions to support those experiencing poverty. Indeed, one of the recommendations of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy is to ‘leverage the economic power of the city to stimulate job growth, support local businesses and drive inclusive economic growth.’ This model engages with sectors that can be otherwise challenging to do so with or may not even be considered in poverty reduction work.

An economic lens could be injected into any poverty reduction work. And this framing could illicit a different way of looking at the issue, at how to tackle it and change the dynamic of who is involved. There may be a tension around how to do poverty reduction and how to do wealth building, but need there be? It starts with a better understanding of what it means for community engagement and inclusive economic development.

Key takeaways from this webinar:

  • Align and embed inclusive economic growth into Poverty Reduction Strategies
  • Public institutions are rooted in and invested in communities, thus leveraging their spending for social impact is a natural connection
  • Implementing social procurement effectively is about connecting the ecosystem of communities

Take your Learning Further

Cities Reducing Poverty, social procurement, Ontario, Local, Elle Richards

Elle Richards

By Elle Richards

Elle has joined the Vibrant Communities team as Manager of Cities, Cities Reducing Poverty. Her experience spans corporate, academic, health and community environments, and working on national, regional and local programs of work, both strategically and operationally. In recent years, Elle has focused her work around issues of food security, poverty and inequalities in health.

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