Connected Communities Work:
A Geographic Solution to Geographic Poverty

The relationship between geography and poverty in Toronto’s neighbourhoods and in particular it’s inner suburban Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) is well documented.  Within these communities residents, social service providers, employment training organizations, employers and local institutions strive to reduce poverty with various programs and initiatives which are often fragmented. In recent years, there has been an increase in publicly funded projects in NIAs, from hospitals to universities to transit projects: jobs are being created in the very communities in which people are struggling to find employment.  The result of system fragmentation is a disconnect between job seekers and employment opportunities within communities. 

Connected Communities Work (CCW) is a place-based workforce development strategy rooted in the Connected Community Approach (CCA) which addresses the fragmentation of local systems and focuses on ensuring whole coherent and coordinated local strategies to support people with multiple barriers (personal and geographic) to transition from poverty into decent work. 

The Connected Community Approach, the model on which CCW is founded, is designed to be nimble and adapt to shifting organizational, social, economic and political contexts. By being place based and not sector specific, the CCW model can be adapted to changes in type and scope of public spending/investment. CCW focuses on creating pathways that not only meet the needs of equity seeking and historically disadvantaged groups, but also meet the hiring needs of employers/funders.


To learn more about the potential of the CCW model and in particular, as an economic-recovery response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, listen to C3’s Manager of Policy/Community Connections Ajeev Bhatia and C3’s Advisor Gillian Mason of Gillian Mason Consultancy talk about CCW and ESW with Sally Fazal of Social Impact Advisors.


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The CCW model is demand-led, supply-driven and network managed. What this means is that  employers and job seekers are connected via   employment  pathways. These pathways are made up of existing outreach, service and training supports that are integrated and focused on a clear line of sight to identified employment opportunities.

The implementation of this model relies on the specialized skills of a place-based integrator which can be defined as: an organization located in a community that acts as facilitator, connecting the work of multiple players in the local system so that recruitment is effective and efficient for employers and local people living in poverty have the best possible chance of qualifying for local jobs.

East Scarborough Works, a project led by the East Scarborough Storefront, has successfully prototyped the CCW model resulting in an ongoing pathway connecting job-seekers in East Scarborough to job opportunities created through the University of Toronto Scarborough's capital development project. A customized and context-specific pathway diagram can be found below. For more information on East Scarborough Works please visit the project page


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East Scarborough Works


With its sister organization, the East Scarborough Storefront, C3 is setting out to demonstrate how the Connected Community Approach can improve employment outcomes and, thereby reduce poverty in marginalized communities.

East Scarborough Works is not an employment program., but a way of ensuring that the right people are connected to the right opportunities at the right time so that, when local jobs are created, local people living in poverty have the best possible chance of being successful candidates for those jobs.


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C3 is leveraging the learnings from the East Scarborough example to explore how place based community development pathways can either help, or hinder people living in poverty from accessing local jobs when they are created.

East Scarborough Works is about creating win/win/win solutions. East Scarborough Works benefits



For more information, contact: Anne Gloger at or Ajeev Bhatia.

History


The Storefront was a key participant in Metcalf’s Resilient Neighbourhood Economies (RNE) project, where we explored and tested ideas for building local economic resilience. This work helped us pioneer and grow our Connected Community Approach (CCA), which works across traditional boundaries between residents, local change makers, sector players and decision makers, to better connect people to the systems that support them, the systems to the people they support and to each other.  In the CCA framework, people and organizations are encouraged and supported to collaborate and co-create initiatives. The proposed East End Trades Training Centre (EETTC) is one such initiative.

East Scarborough Works (ESW), a project of The Storefront, grew out of our work with RNE. Momentum for the EETTC grew out of ESW.  ESW is the overarching project that seeks to connect people to local jobs created with public dollars. ESW is designed to leverage local public investment to benefit the community through local hiring. ESW facilitates the creation of new workforce pathways and collaborations.

In 2018, when the potential for workforce development beyond East Scarborough was fully realized, The Storefront partnered with its sister organization Centre for Connected Communities  C3).  The Storefront focuses on local impact and C3 focuses on leveraging a Connected Community Approach for workforce development broadly across sectors and communities"