Niagara Prosperity Initiative Evaluation

In 2018, Niagara Region Social Assistance and Employment Opportunities was awarded funding from the province's Local Poverty Reduction Fund for a three-year research project to review the impact of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative program and to make recommendations for change.

We contracted Brock University to provide the report "Connecting the Pieces: An Evaluation of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative and Call for a Broader Poverty Reduction Strategy for Niagara" which contains five broad recommendations.

The report includes an assessment of the cumulative impacts of over a decade of grant funding for poverty reduction and alleviation projects through the Niagara Prosperity Initiative. Information gathered from testimonials, surveys and interviews established three major themes on how these funded projects benefitted participants. The projects:

  • Helped individuals develop supportive social networks
  • Facilitated individuals' learning in various ways
  • Contributed to individuals' growing self-efficacy

Key recommendations from the report

Future responses to poverty

To support Niagara Region's future responses to poverty, staff worked with The Clarico Group Inc. (Clarico) to use the results of the Brock study to:

  • Gain an understanding of the Region's broader investments in poverty reduction
  • Propose an approach for the implementation of a broader poverty reduction strategy that would consider the investments made in this area
  • Propose a new approach for Niagara Prosperity Initiative investments in the context of a broader poverty reduction strategy

Five action items for 2022 to 2024

The following action items will be the focus of work over 2022-2024:

  1. Develop a Niagara Region Poverty Reduction Strategy led by Niagara Region, Community Services, aligned with the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, and engage multiple stakeholders under a common agenda
  2. Establish an Niagara Region Poverty Reduction Strategy Steering Committee, including a Regional councillor as a champion, also aligned with the recommended actions in Niagara's Community Safety and Well Being Plan
  3. Transition Niagara Prosperity Initiative in-house to Community Services to lead the development of a Niagara Poverty Reduction Strategy informed by Brock University and Clarico Group Inc. recommendations
  4. Align the request for proposal process with existing initiatives internal and external to the Region to make deliberate investments and provide longer funding terms
  5. Guide investments with enhanced research and use data to inform decisions on a poverty approach grounded in best practice
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