How to Spend $10M on Poverty Reduction

Submitted by Saint John on September 8, 2017 - 3:16am

SAINT JOHN, NB • A Saint John group is finalizing the criteria it will use to invest a $10-million pot of provincial funding into innovative new projects over the next few years to help end generational poverty in the city.

The New Brunswick government announced in May it will provide $10 million over the next five years to Living SJ, a network of more than 100 partners in the government and business sectors, as well as non-profit and neighbourhood groups, working to end lifelong child poverty.

Members of a recently-struck Living SJ subcommittee have been meeting throughout the summer to develop an application process for community partners to apply and receive financial support through the $10-million Social Innovation Fund, said executive director Donna Gates.

“We’d also have a committee to evaluate the proposals as well, so we would have an investment committee taking a look at that who would present that third-party scrutiny to the project,” she said.

But before Living SJ can start accepting applications, Gates said the proposed application and review process will go to the network’s leadership team for approval Sept. 12.

“Hopefully they’ll green light that and we’ll be able to communicate back to our network in terms of time frames for the next steps,” she said.

Saint John has a 30 per cent rate of child poverty — double the national average — with some rates as high as 40 in some city neighbourhoods, according to Living SJ.

Gates said the network’s four collective impact teams — health, employment, education and neighbourhood engagement — have already been developing ideas for the last year and a half for new poverty reduction projects.

“Certainly idea generation will be very important because there’s ideas we haven’t thought of yet, so I think we want all of our partners involved in idea generation, as well as supporting a project,” Gates said. “We might even find there is a person on another collective impact team that may end up supporting the work of another collective impact team.” Gates said she believes Living SJ’s already “mobilized network” gave the province faith to invest in Saint John and put poverty reduction funding directly in the hands of the community — money that can go a long way to addressing a long-standing issue in the city.

“We really look at it as a game-changer in how we can tackle poverty differently.”



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