Background: How do Charities, Agencies and Business fit together?
We developed the City of Opportunity platform in 2018 through consultation with our Members and the broader community, identifying several factors limiting our city’s ability to provide opportunity for its citizens. Although rising taxes figured prominently in the responses we received, the majority of our focus group and survey participants told us that the issue they were most concerned about is neighbourhood decay – characterized most visibly by increasing poverty, homelessness and crime.
In a nutshell, our Members have told us their biggest concern is the growing social issues that are affecting their ability to do business.
We used the platform as a lens for the City election, asking each municipal election candidate if they could commit to “proactively engage community groups, city agencies and social organizations to develop long term strategies to battle homelessness, addiction, mental illness and crime based on principles of harm reduction.” All of our elected candidates agreed, giving us common ground and a starting point for working with our municipal government to improve things.
At the same time, we began our own work to strengthen Chamber relationships with the charities, government agencies and other organizations engaged with the social issues challenging our community. We did this for two reasons:
- to bring partners to the table who could teach us what they know – based on education, science and hands-on experience – about the social issues our Members see affecting their businesses.
- to find ways the business community can work with these partners to create, support and move forward with solutions that will make our community stronger and more resilient, creating a healthier business environment.
We created the Charity Connect program to make it easier for these new partners to engage with us.
Several weeks ago, we were approached by United Way of Thunder Bay and the Lakehead Social Planning Council to work together on a Community Cross-Sector Collaboration. We were happy to agree, and are looking for Members interested in solutions to attend this first session.
What will happen on November 28?
We aim to assemble influencers, thinkers and doers from the business community to attend this event. The Community Cross-Sector Collaboration forum will run from 1 – 4:30 on Nov 28 at the Urban Abbey.
This event is an opportunity for government agencies, charities and the business community to develop some common understandings and explore ways we can move closer to solutions on up to 12 overlapping social issues by working together. One of the things we’ve learned recently is that a lot of the frustration the business community feels could be addressed by:
- learning that there is progress being made; that the issues are not being ignored, and
- there is a role for business to play moving forward: we aren’t helpless and, in fact, can contribute to solutions for our community.
The afternoon will be divided into two parts:
- Independent guided table discussions on up to 12 different topics. You’ll learn what’s being done now and what challenges are hindering progress. You’ll be asked to consider how a three-pronged approach supported by all three stakeholder groups could help move things forward, and what else could be done to support change.
- A table of tables discussion: given what we know about overlap between the issues, how can the groups at the different discussion tables work jointly to address them?
When you register, you’ll be presented with the list of potential discussion topics and asked to identify the top three issues of interest to you.
- poverty reduction
- food security
- education & literacy
- housing security
- social inclusion
- crime & safety
- drugs & addiction
- mental health
- employment & training
- healthy aging
- income security
Discussion groups will be assembled based on what we learn from our registrants as they sign up. Registration is being hosted by our friends at United Way at Eventbrite: (event closed)