The History Of Communities United

Communities United is an EndPovertyEdmonton initiative which began in 2016 under a different name. As the initiative grew a community engagement session decided that it should be renamed Communities United; an initiative which strives to be a new, and innovative way for communities and agencies to work together. The underlying ways that partners work together ate meant to transform and challenge the ‘business as usual’ approach.

If we work together (neighbours, community organizations and other local partners) and tap into our gifts and resources we can build neighbourhoods where diversity is celebrated, neighbours care for one another and families live healthy, safe, and financially secure lives.

The foundational Communities United partnerships and relationships worked through 2016 and early 2017 to engage in conversations with community members gathering information to inform how the initiative could work, clarifying the vision, and speaking to residents about their aspirations in relation to the initiative.

 
 
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Community Engagement and Outreach

Communities United understands healthy, trusted relationships with community takes time to develop strong connections. A Community Outreach plan was developed to identify and build upon existing expertise and resources to create a stronger community connections and networks. Outreach is the core of what we do. Early partnerships were developed with community leagues, indigenous and multicultural organizations, local churches, and local service providers.


Relationship and Network Development

In early 2017 Communities United implemented the community governance model focusing on community management and decision making with the broader aims of assessing community needs whilst building community capacity and well-being. The Communities United Steering Committee was developed and met monthly with approximately 30 members representing community members, local buisness owners, leaders from the faith community, local non-profit organizations, agency leaders, and funders. This group still meets regularly and is always open for community member contributions.

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Communities United Initiatives and Activities

  • Supported the ongoing work of Abundant Communities Edmonton who hires block connectors to reduce isolation, increase community recreation and share member assets.

  • Created a Common Good Database in partnership with the Bannerman and Hairsine community leagues to capture the assets of community members and share those with other members in the community.

  • Communities United exclusively partners with local restraints and catering companies for Communities United events and meetings.

  • Partnered with Action for Healthy Communities for the business development training program (BEES) offered to residents of Northeast Edmonton who are interested in starting small businesses or want to develop a social enterprise to contribute to their projects sustainability. Course Included:

    • A 14-week buisness development course that runs once a week

    • Buisness Club, Buisness mentorship and counselling, buisness consulting

    • Graduation ceremony at the end of the course

The BEES program saw 40 graduates complete the training in Spring 2018 with a new cohort beginning in Winter 2018-Spring 2019. A pop-up market was held featuring the small businesses from the BEES program, as well as local pre-existing small businesses in the Northeast Edmonton neighbourhood.

  • In partnership with E4C, Bannerman Community League, and the City of Edmonton, Communities United supports a weekly after school program for the artistic and cultural activities.

  • Communities United and E4C offer an annual Make Tax Time Pay program which provides free financial services to low-income families and individuals to complete their income tax return, apply for government benefits and subsidies, and gain additional information and education on related financial resources.

  • Three students completed their MCAT studies due to the MD Admissions Initiative for Diversity and Equity (MD AIDE) and financial support from Communities United.

  • Communities United and United Way of the Alberta Capital Region offered an Empower U program. Empower U combines financial literacy programs with a 1:2 matched savings component (every dollar saved by group participants generates two dollars in matched contributions). Participants in the Empower U program experiences a 16.6% increase in employment income, 18.7% increase in bank account holders, and the number of payday loan users decreased by 28.2%.

  • Action for Healthy Communities and Communities United is running a workforce participation workshop series.

    • A four week series designed to practically prepare newcomers to the Canadian workforce by developing language, workplace, and intercultural skills.

  • Make It Bake It Grow It is a collaborative community economic development project aimed at supporting potential entrepreneurs with culinary skills to become farmers market vendors. This program included seven weeks of classroom instruction, followed by six weeks experience selling at farmers markets.