Shauna MacKinnon, Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Inner City Studies, University of Winnipeg
Winnipeg, Canada is a mid-size city in central Canada. Academics, community organizations and people living in poverty are actively engaged in grassroots efforts to directly improve the social and economic well-being of individuals and families living in poverty.
Despite sharing similar objectives, grassroots initiatives have operated largely in isolation from well-funded “multi-stakeholder” initiatives with poverty reduction mandates. Efforts toward collaboration have largely failed as multi-stakeholder initiatives have declined to advocate for the kinds of policy changes that grassroots initiatives believe are necessary if we are to directly improve the social and economic conditions of those living in poverty. Grassroots organizations are concerned that the ‘watered down’ efforts of multi-stakeholder initiatives, in the context of neoliberalism, deflect responsibility from governments to intervene through public policy and regulatory change. Our local context around poverty reduction, and that in North America generally, has sparked an interest in more closely examining initiatives described as “community led” “multi-stakeholder”, “collective Impact” approaches to poverty reduction. We aim to assess the impact of these approaches to poverty reduction by exploring:
- What constitutes a ‘multi-stakeholder’ poverty reduction initiative and who is involved?
- To what extent are grassroots community organizations involved in ‘multi-stakeholder’ initiatives?
- Are initiatives funded and if so, how much do they receive, what is the the source of funding?
- What is the mandate? (i.e. charity vs public policy change)
- What has been the impact? Are there examples of public policy change that has led to improved social and economic conditions for people living in poverty?