Vibrant Communities is an initiative of the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy and The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.A comprehensive place-based national program, Vibrant Communities aims to reduce poverty in selected Canadian cities and at least 100,000 individual households by 2011.
Launched in 2003, it now includes 13 ‘Trail Builder’ communities that have undertaken locally-designed initiatives led and implemented by groups comprising municipal leaders, businesspeople, community organizations and people living in poverty.
Linked to the Trail Builders is a larger learning community of interested stakeholders amongst all levels of government, donors and activists, collectively learning from and contributing to anti-poverty activities.
Through this initiative, the Foundation envisions communities where people and resources are mobilized to fight poverty and exclusion, becoming more inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
Since Vibrant Communities started in 2003, 13 communities, from Saint John to Victoria, have become Trail Builders. Each selected city has a multi-stakeholder managing body, raising funds locally to match the Foundation’s contribution (since 2003, $2,430,000 in grants to the communities has leveraged a further $4,998,000 from other sources). As recently as June 2008, 56,806 households have received support through measures affecting access to housing, asset development, employer practices and income supports. A total of 1,985 organizations have been active participants (non-profit 621; government 423; business 425; low income 127).
In the learning stream, there have been 26 teleconferences on topics such as innovation and leadership, living wage and employer practices, community-government collaboration and so on). Face-to-face regional and annual meetings have also taken place, including the annual Tamarack-sponsored Communities Collaborating Institute.
Analytical papers have been published by the Caledon Institute; other educational tools are available from Tamarack.
Vibrant Communities programs are now underway in Abbotsford, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Montreal, Saint John, St. John’s, Surrey, Trois-Rivières, Victoria, Waterloo and Winnipeg.