Learn to Include - Include to Learn (Part 3)

Resource Type: Audio Seminar || Speakers: George Donahue, Catherine Goulet, Mary & Charles Ewing
Mary & Charles Ewing

This three-part podcast series explores how to facilitate the meaningful participation of low-income individuals in leadership roles at both grassroots and more formal levels. The 3rd podcast in this series explores how The Community Action Agency and Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative are examples of capacity building for low-income leaders.

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Step UpHow can community collaborations facilitate the meaningful participation of low-income individuals in leadership structures and activities - both in grassroots groups and more formal roundtables? 

How can we utilize the skills that low-income residents bring to leadership roles, and assist them in building their capacity?

This, the 3rd podcast in this series, explores how The Community Action Agency and Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative are examples of capacity building for low-income leaders.

On this page you'll find:

Meet the Speakers

George Donahue - George is the Director of Community Resources at the Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, Missouri, USA. She is responsible for programs that enhance the efforts of low-income individuals and families moving towards self-sufficiency.

Mary and Charles EwingMary & Charles Ewing - Mary and Charles are past participants of Step Up to Leadership. "We knew what we wanted to do, but the [Step Up to Leadership] curriculum taught us how to package our experience and put it together to do something better." 

Catherine Goulet - Catherine is the Executive Director of the Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative, a neighbourhood organization that has taken a lead role in the development and implementation of the Social Development Plan for Regent Park. 

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The Community Action Agency 

The Community Action Agency of St. Louis County was formed in the 1960s after President Lyndon Johnson introduced the War on Poverty initiative to empower low-income people to bring themselves out of poverty. The Agency is mandated by law to have board members from three different sectors (public, private and low-income), and also to perform bi-annual community assessments to make sure their programs fulfill the needs of the community. 

When convening their Board, the Agency saw the need to build the skills of their low-income representatives. In doing so, the Agency went beyond simple skills to be part of a board. They took a more comprehensive approach to training by writing their own curriculum that addressed areas such as conflict, relationships, diversity, group dynamics and public speaking - skills that would not only build the capacity of low-income individuals to be board members, but also empower them to be leaders in their community. The Agency called this curriculum Step Up to Leadership. 

Participants of Step Up to Leadership have expressed that the program gave them a chance to stand up, share their story and build confidence in their ability to lead. They've become more resourceful, and many are using their experience to mentor others and give back to their community. 

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Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative 

The Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative (RPNI), based in Toronto, ON, has created a social development plan to guide community services and community development initiatives as Regent Park makes the transition from a social housing community to a mixed income, mixed-use community that is integrated with adjacent neighbourhoods. 

The Initiative's approach has been to help leaders build the skills they need to work in different capacities, whether working as an informal neighbourhood leader or as the member of an established board. Recently, RPNI has been working with grassroots groups to encourage residents to take on leadership roles with the redevelopment of Regent Park. While there has been a push and pull between the value of volunteers and paid workers, the Initiative continues to try different approaches and communicate regularly with low-income leaders to recognize their important leadership capacities.

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Links & Resources

The Quality of Life CHALLENGE - The Quality of Life CHALLENGE serves British Columbia’s Capital Region. To learn more, click here.

Inclusion at the CHALLENGE - For more information about the CHALLENGE's Inclusion Policy and the Poverty Experience, click here.

Step Inside Poverty - To read Tamarack's story about the Poverty Experience, click here.

Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction – Find the latest information about the work of the Hamilton Roundtable here.

Crescent Valley Survey Results - This June 2006 presentation summarizes the results of the community survey that took place in Crescent Valley. To read a full report on this survey, click here.

Leading to Enable: Government Engagement in Vibrant Communities Saint John - This story, written by the Caledon Institute in April 2007, tells the story of how government agencies got involved in Crescent Valley and other Saint John neighbourhoods.

Vivre St. Michel en Santé - This page contains information about the Vibrant Communities initiative in Montreal.

Le Chantier in Saint Michel: Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion - This March 2006 story by the Caledon Institute gives more details about the neighbourhood and the work being done by Vibrant Communities Montreal.

Step Up to Leadership - For a summary or to purchase a copy of the Step Up to Leadership curriculum, click here.

Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative – Learn more about the roots and activities of this neighbourhood-based organization.

Regent Park Social Development Plan - This social development plan will help guide community services and community development initiatives in Regent Park as it makes the transition from a social housing community to a mixed income, mix-use community that is integrated with adjacent neighbourhoods. 

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