#MontrealMondays - Centraide of Greater Montreal

Posted on May 29, 2017
By Tamarack Institute

#MontrealMondays – A blog series about the inspiring Neighbourhood and Community work being done in Montréal.

With Deepening Communities’ Neighborhoods – The Heart of Community Mobilizing (HCMI) for Impact being right around the corner, we are featuring a four-week blog series about the incredible organizations that reside in Montréal. There will be one #MontréalMondays blog post every Monday leading up to the HCMI event on June 6th. 


Centraide of Greater Montreal








Welcome back to the final installment of the #MontréalMondays blog series!

The organization we are featuring this week is Centraide of Greater Montreal, whose mission is to fight poverty and social exclusion by acting on the factors that are most likely to bring about lasting and significant change in people’s lives. Centraide supports a vast network of agencies, including all of the previous organizations featured in this series. So that is a nice note to end our #MontrealMondays series on such an incredible organization.

This week, we have an interview with Myriam Bérubé, the Assistant Director of Centraide's Collective Impact Project (CIP).

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m motivated by a deep interest in the development of communities. This interest has had an impact on my personal, academic and professional journey. I’m the coordinator of the Collective impact Project (CIP) at Centraide of Greater Montreal since it was launched in October of 2015.  Before that, I was an advisor on planning and development for three years at the same organization. The CIP is an accelerator of change that aims to increase the impact of engagement and achieve measurable and significant results in reducing poverty in Montreal neighbourhoods. This project is made possible through the collaboration of eight major foundations that engage with Centraide to invest $22.25 million over 5 years in seventeen neighbourhoods of the island of Montreal.

Tell us a little about Centraide of Greater Montreal.

We raise money and invest it locally to break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion. We support a network of dynamic agencies and projects that bring people together. We invest according to each territory’s needs with the goal of improving quality of life. In Greater Montreal, one out of seven people receives support from an agency in Centraide’s network. Centraide is part of the United Way movement across Canada and worldwide.

How did you motivate funders to come together?

Our CEO, Lili-Anna Pereša did a wonderful job in approaching those major foundations around collective impact. As for Centraide, its main strengths are the knowledge of Greater Montreal’s communities that it has acquired over the years, its ongoing interaction with these communities and its relationship of trust with the social actors working in the field. Centraide also has a proven process for analyzing the situation of communities and planning its social investments accordingly. Finally, it has shown leadership with its regional partners, and has close ties with the business community. These are the reasons why Centraide is the operator of the project.

A partnership steering committee composed of representatives of the financial partners has been established for the CIP. The other partners that participate in the steering committee are those involved in the Initiative montréalaise de soutien au développement social local (initiative to support local social development), namely the City of Montreal, the Montreal Public Health Department and the Coalition of neighbourhood round tables. The partners focus is on the purpose and proper operation of the project; the progress of the communities toward the goals for change they have set for themselves; and the lessons to be drawn continuously from the evolution of the project.

The CIP brings about increased efficiency by reducing overhead costs and achieving greater impact. Partners increase their individual capacity by pooling resources and expertise. They take part into learning and knowledge sharing as we aim to move collectively from grant maker to change maker.

As your CIP has grown, have you seen a difference being made at a neighbourhood/community level? Are their unique features specific to only certain neighbourhoods?

The Collective Impact Project accounts for the reality of each participating neighbourhood by providing tailored support so that each one can implement its neighbourhood action plan with adequate financial support. The neighbourhood roundtables play a key part in this process (see previous article). Each neighbourhood also receives support to conduct an evaluation on how their collective process serves the action strategy, encourages collective learning and continuously improves practices. Put simply, we want the community to define its own priorities and the funders to come together to support what the community wants to do.

The first investments in the neighbourhoods began about 6 months ago. We are at an early stage of the project but we can already observe first results with regards to collective work. For example, in some neighbourhoods, we see increased collaboration among local actors as they work together towards a common agenda. Other communities have revisited their governance structure and decision-making processes to set priorities collectively. Other examples are increased citizen participation in the processes. In short, communities are installing or improving the conditions for collective impact.

What are some of the lessons you have learned as you’ve engaged in neighbourhood work?

Adaptability and flexibility. We must follow the rhythm of each community: local stakeholders set the pace of the work, not the funders. At times, this process can be lengthy, but it ensures that everyone is deeply engaged in the project.

Communication is a key to build trust and engage with the community. Being transparent and clear in messages, revealing assumptions and intentions are essential conditions for success. This is a pilot project so all stakeholders need to adjust to work collectively. We have to focus on strategic learning in this project if we are to achieve greater impact in reducing poverty and social exclusion. 

What else would you like to share about Centraide?

Find out more about the neighbourhood projects aiming to support youth success, take care of the essentials for families, break social isolation and build caring communities, visit pic.centraide.org.

We also want to invite your readers to join us at the national Deepening Community 2017 Learning Event that will be held in Montreal next June 6-8, where participants will have the opportunity to learn more about our Collective Impact Project (CIP/PIC).

Make sure to follow Centraide on Facebook and Twitter!  


Neighbourhoods ♥ The Heart of Community: Mobilizing for Impact (June 6-8, 2017) is a unique and bilingual national learning event that brings together the most innovative and inspiring examples of neighbourhood action at its best. Learn more

Joignez-vous aux bâtisseurs de communauté, aux leaders citoyens, aux chercheurs, aux leaders municipaux, et autres gens passionnés et venez raviver et rajeunir votre espoir dans le pouvoir citoyen et l’engagement de toute une communauté. Inscrivez-vous à l’événement annuel. Les Quartiers ♥ Le Cœur de la Communauté: Se Mobiliser pour l’Impact qui se tient à Montréal du 6 au 8 juin 2017. http://events.tamarackcommunity.ca/fr/quartiers


Further Reading:

Community Engagement, Cities Deepening Community

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By Tamarack Institute

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