Niagara Prosperity Initiative

What is the Niagara Prosperity Initiative?

2013 Projects

2012 Projects

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's goals

  • To guide and direct investments on identified initiatives to alleviate poverty in neighbourhoods across Niagara
  • To advocate for change that will reduce and prevent poverty in the community
  • To develop and enhance collaborative relationships between stakeholders
  • To engage people living in poverty in meaningful ways to ensure that investments reflect need

How does it work?

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.

Read about the impact the NPI is having in Niagara.

Legacy of Poverty Report

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:

  • 15 per cent of working families earn less than $20,000
  • 15.6 per cent of Niagara's children live in poverty
  • 45.6 per cent of residents pay more than 30 per cent of income on rent
  • 33 per cent of visits to food banks are made by children
  • 42 per cent of Ontario Works caseload are children
  • 32 per cent of Ontario Disability Support Program caseload are children

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:

  • 12 per cent of families in Niagara live below the Low Income Cut Off (2006 data)
  • 71.1 per cent increase in Employment Insurance Beneficiaries from Aug. 2008 to Aug. 2009 in Niagara
  • 40 per cent increase in Ontario Works cases from Oct. 2008 to May 2011
  • In 2005-2006 just over 4,000 households used the 13 local food banks across Niagara

Niagara Neighbourhood Mapping Tool

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.

The Niagara Neigbourhood Mapping Tool:

  • Uses defined neighbourhoods
  • Uses municipal and not regional averages as baseline
  • Matches areas of need with existing resources
  • Identifies neighbourhoods in need of attention

Examples of Niagara Prosperity Initiative projects:

  • Before and after-school programs for children and youth
  • Reading/literary programs for children and parents
  • Food and nutrition programs
  • Community gardens
  • Food banks
  • Furniture banks
  • Neighbourhood engagement to identify needs and develop local solutions to poverty
  • Mental health counseling
  • Leadership development programs for youth
  • Health promotion programs
  • Food, clothing and transportation support

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network

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.

Goals:

  • Dispel myths about living in poverty
  • Improve collaboration and actions in poverty reduction
  • Engage and include all individuals in the community

Resources


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