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:
Niagara Region must commit to resituating the Niagara Prosperity Initiative as one component of a larger comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.
The Niagara Prosperity Initiative is one piece of the puzzle embedded in a wider range of actors, services and strategies needed to affect meaningful and lasting change.
The Region needs to ensure that its ongoing anti-poverty efforts are supported by an appropriate level of staffing, comparable with those of ambitious and successful anti-poverty programs elsewhere.
A model based on deliberate investment and longer funding terms has the additional benefit of mitigating the unpredictability and fragmentary nature of services provided through time-limited contracts.
The identification of priorities, tactics and points of service should be guided by strong, up-to-date and finely grained research.
To accommodate a deliberate approach to funding, investment is needed to collect, develop and share data and strategies with stakeholder and providers in a way that is transparent, responsive and receptive to community feedback.
Niagara Region's various departments design and implement public services. Making such services optimally accessible and functional for vulnerable citizens is itself a form of poverty reduction.
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:
The following action items will be the focus of work over 2022-2024: