Strategic Vision

When citizens suffer from poverty, the effects go beyond the individual. Communities suffer as well. That’s why reducing poverty enriches everyone. Doing so increases economic capacity, health outcomes and vitality at both a personal and community level.

Vibrant Communities is a network of 100 cities that are creating comprehensive poverty reduction strategies. The goal? To positively impact the lives of one million Canadians living in poverty. That’s how you build a more equitable, vibrant and healthy nation.

About the program

Through the Vibrant Communities (VC) initiative, 13 Canadian “Trail Builder” communities experimented with poverty reduction strategies. The impact was significant. A number of cities reported a 10% reduction in poverty. That’s resulted in a better life for over 200,000 low-income Canadians.

Launched in 2002, Vibrant Communities was a partnership between the Tamarack Institute, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. Tamarack was responsible for overall leadership and implementation. The McConnell Foundation helped shape strategy and provided grants to the Trail Builder communities. The Caledon Institute served as the social policy think tank behind the project.

More than 50 communities have now joined the VC network. They undertake locally-designed initiatives organized by community leaders and those living in poverty. Each community sets its own priorities, and they share knowledge of what works best with one another.

Visit for more info.

Granting total : $7.3 million

Key Lessons from Vibrant Communities

The evaluation of Vibrant Communities revealed the following approaches and factors contributing to the effectiveness of local initiatives.

Using a comprehensive, multi-sector approach, communities can:

  • raise the profile of poverty issues
  • build a constituency working towards change
  • encourage collaborative ways of working
  • begin to shift systems underlying poverty
  • generate practical changes for a large number of people living in poverty

Critical success factors include having:

  • influential and credible convener(s)
  • cross-sectoral, connected leadership
  • a clearly articulated purpose and approach
  • high degrees of resident mobilization
  • research that informs the work