To our members: By the end of February, and will be integrated into the Tamarack website at This is a more accessible platform, where you will easily find more engaging content and resources on poverty reduction and community change.

Questions? Send us a note at

View your organization through a Poverty Lens

Submitted by Liz Weaver on July 29, 2016 - 1:27am

Despite our best efforts, organizations of all types - non-profit, government, business - have barriers that prevent rather than enable access.  John Stapleton in his blog post  Stop Wondering about the Under-subscription of Benefits clearly articulated the challenges low income parents have in accessing the Canada Learning Bond for their children, even when this benefit is available to them at no cost.  John, in shadowing a low income parent, identified the many barriers from lack of childcare supports, to the challenge to obtain appropriate identification, lack of information at banks, etc.

Recently, the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) also published an article called Listening to Those who Matter Most, The Beneficiaries.  In this article they identify some of the internal and external barriers that organizations have which prevent them from authentically listening to their clients or beneficiaries.  They also provide examples of organizations that effectively listened and how this activity transformed their perspectives and services. 

The Child and Youth Health Network of Eastern Ontario has developed an on-line resource that is designed to help organizations of all types assess how accessible they are to low income families.  The Poverty Lens can be used by single employees, teams and organizations to assess the services they provide to people in poverty.  This tool enables you to learn more about your agency:

  • How easy it is for families to access your programs and services?
  • What impact do your policies and procedures have on families living in poverty?  
  • How welcoming is your organization? 
  • Do staff feel well supported to address client's poverty-related issues? 
  • What could your organization be doing to better support children, youth and families living in poverty? 

Is your organization ready to take up this challenge?  Visit to begin your journey of learning and your path to better supporting low income families in your community.