The Niagara Prosperity Initiative (Niagara Prosperity Initiative) was established by Niagara Region in 2008, and provides for an annual investment of $1.5 million to support poverty reduction and prevention activities. An advisory committee guides investment decisions and works to leverage additional community resources.
The Niagara Prosperity Initiative uses a research-based approach to address the root causes of poverty, allocating resources where they will have the greatest effect. While some projects are designed to meet the immediate needs of individuals living in poverty, the Niagara Prosperity Initiative is also focused on longer-term strategies which require stronger partnerships and improved coordination and planning across the public, private and voluntary (not for profit) sectors and among stakeholders.
The Niagara Prosperity Initiative has its roots in a 2007 report on poverty in Niagara called A Legacy of Poverty? Addressing Cycles of Poverty and the Impact on Child Health in Niagara Region. Among the report's findings:
In October 2011 an updated report was made available Building a New Legacy: Increasing Prosperity for Niagara Residents by Improving the Quality of Neighbourhood Life
This report provides updates to the recommendations and statistics from the "Legacy of Poverty" report. The data available in the updated report comes from the 2006 census; before the downturn in the economy. Among the report's findings:
The Niagara Prosperity Initiative uses a neighbourhood-based approach as specific poverty issues and community dynamics vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Research shows that strong neighbourhoods are ones that engage residents and are essential to healthy, safe and prosperous communities. Niagara Prosperity Initiative uses defined neighbourhoods to focus funding in areas that require attention.
The defined neighbourhoods were identified through work done in 2006 where an Ontario Early Years Data Analysis Coordinator facilitated community focus group sessions across the twelve municipalities. At these sessions participants looked at maps to determine neighbourhood boundaries - consensus was reached in all sessions and 74 neighbourhoods in Niagara were identified and named.
Examples of Niagara Prosperity Initiative projects:
The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is working to increase prosperity among residents of Niagara.
The Network provides leadership to educate and change attitudes about poverty, and to maximize opportunities for community engagement.