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There’s No “I” in “Team”; the Value of Coaching in Poverty Reduction

Posted on July 3, 2018
By Jessica Fisher

If you asked LeBron James, Hayley Wickenheiser or Serena Williams whatcoaching helped them to develop mastery in their chosen sports they would undoubtedly give some of the credit to their coaches – the trusted mentors and inspiring role models who empowered them to achieve more than they could on their own.

And it’s not just athletes that stand to benefit from coaching; within the field of poverty reduction those on the front lines need help sometimes, too. The value of coaching applies to the Cities Reducing Poverty (CRP) network of 60 members across Canada that are doing the often messy and iterative work of tackling poverty. Being able to call on the experiences and perspectives of different types of coaches can help to shed light on causes, connections and solutions to poverty not previously considered. Coaching in this context is about fine-tuning, building on what is already strong in a member’s toolbox and continual learning.

Benefits of Coaching

Coaching is an opportunity to receive structured guidance to an identified challenge with the ultimate goal of increasing one’s knowledge, skills and capacity to advance meaningful solutions. For CRP members, access to coaching is a key benefit included in their membership within the network. Specifically, coaching can help CRP members to:

  • Accelerate progress on community poverty reduction work
  • Build capacity to develop and implement plans, measure impact and sustain efforts
  • Strengthen relationships through collaboration with peers

Types of Coaching

There are two types of coaching available to assist CRP members, depending on the challenges they’re facing.

  1. Peer coaching connects two or more members in a mentor-mentee relationship to learn from each others’ experiences in the Vibrant Communities Network.
  2. Expert coaching capitalizes on the deep expertise within Tamarack Institute and the network of community practitioners with many years’ experience on the front lines of poverty reduction.

Sample Topics

Within our network, members can be sure others have faced similar challenges and overcome obstacles that provide lessons to help illuminate the path forward on complex issues. Process coaching helps members to establish essential infrastructure such as setting up a Collective Impact roundtable, developing a poverty reduction strategy, raising funds or instituting a framework to measure impact, while issue-based coaching delves into specific topics such as housing, health or employment. A sample of both processes and issues that can be addressed through coaching appears below.




  • Getting started with Collective Impact
  • Urban aboriginal poverty reduction
  • Developing a community plan/strategy
  • Community Innovation
  • Measuring & reporting impact
  • Advocacy and policy change
  • Building & growing Backbone support organizations
  • Building a community skills toolbox (facilitation, ice breakers, encouraging diversity and equity, managing power)
  • Fundraising & sustainability
  • Empowering lived experience
  • Governance structures
  • Engaging the business community
  • Collaborative planning and revisioning


  • Establishing working groups to implement a plan


  • Developing champions in the local community


  • Building and maintaining partnerships


  • Strategic stakeholder engagement


  • Overcoming hurdles in achieving consensus and decision-making


We know the role of the Convenor can be a lonely one at times and want CRP members to know that they don’t have to go it alone. The coaching offering is designed to accelerate local efforts with the help of a national network of peers and experienced community leaders who understand the journey and are here to offer guidance and support.

Resources to learn more

CRP members interested in coaching should contact their Manager of Cities and check out the coaching brochure.

Not a member? Join Cities Reducing Poverty for access to coaching, connections to like-minded practitioners, learning opportunities like webinars, Communities of Practice and events, and one-on-one support.

Cities Reducing Poverty, Jessica Fisher

Jessica Fisher

By Jessica Fisher

Jessica was formerly Tamarack Institute's Manager of Learning, focusing on Vibrant Communities’ two practice areas, Cities Reducing Poverty (CRP) and Cities Deepening Community (CDC). Jessica aimed to bring a learner-centred lens to the various learning opportunities offered to CRP and CDC members.

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