Published DateLACONIA — On the evening following the Granite United Way's Annual Celebration, when 150 attendees heard about the Financial Stability Partnership's initiative to reduce poverty by 20% in Belknap County by 2020, an additional 80 individuals convened at the Beane Center to learn about the initiative and a collective impact process that will be used to support achieving the ambitious outcomes of the Granite United Way and its many community partners.
According to Mike Persson, who chairs the Financial Stability Partnership for the United Way, "poverty is on the rise in Belknap County and it does not just impact those who are living in poverty; it impacts all of us in a variety of ways, including increased crime, slower economic growth, and a reduction in property values."
He said that poverty has traditionally been seen as a problem for government and the non-profit sector to address and there are many programs in place that do an excellent job at assisting those who are living in poverty. Unfortunately, the traditional approach has not resulted in a meaningful reduction in the number of people living in poverty.
"We recognized early on that poverty is one of those complex issues and that we needed to take a different approach to reducing it" said Persson. "We spent over two years evaluating the problem and approaches that have been used elsewhere and came to the conclusion that any meaningful reduction in poverty in Belknap County will require a multi-sectorial approach, which includes the business community and those living in poverty, in which we all rally around the common agenda of reducing poverty and work collectively and collaboratively toward that agenda".
Liz Weaver, Vice-President of the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement has been implementing poverty reduction strategies across Canada for years and served as keynote for the community leaders gathering on June 5.
She said that through Tamarack's Vibrant Communities initiative, over two hundred thousand people have been impacted. "We are now scaling up to work with 100 cities across Canada," said Weaver, who also noted that "any poverty reduction initiative is really a prosperity initiative."
Persson challenged the group to "find the one thing they can do in their personal and professional lives – at home and at work – that can be done to make an impact toward poverty reduction and, to commit to doing that one thing, and to become part of the Financial Stability Partnership so that our community creates a safe, healthy and economically prosperous future for all our citizens."