Niagara Region and Brock University partner to evaluate 10 years of poverty reduction funding

Niagara Region and Brock University have announced a partnership to evaluate the impact of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI) on Niagara’s communities.

Now in its 10th year, the NPI provides $1.5 million annually to support poverty reduction and prevention activities throughout the region.

The evaluation project announced Friday, May 4, is supported by $470,000 in funding delivered through the Government of Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund (LPRF). The grant, funded by the Government of Ontario and administered by its agency the Ontario Trillium Foundation, is helping Niagara Region support those in need by identifying the effect of the NPI over the last decade. The results of the evaluation will allow Niagara Region to better plan for the future in order to maximize impact.

“This collaboration between Brock University and Niagara Region, enabled through the support of the Government of Ontario, is a striking example of how transdisciplinary research can engage with innovative community projects,” said Brock Vice-President, Research, Tim Kenyon. “The data, insights and characterizations of the assessment exercise will support evidence-based planning and action on social and economic development in Niagara Region. This is just one of the ways that Brock researchers are making a difference today and in the future.”

The project was initiated by Brock Social Justice Research Institute Director June Corman and former SJRI Project Facilitator Rachel Hirsch. It’s now in the hands of a team of Brock researchers spanning psychology, geography, tourism, education, nursing and sociology.

The NPI evaluation project will examine more than 330 projects that have received funding over the last 10 years. The NPI has supplied funding to 84 different agencies since 2008, with a particular focus on women, single parents and their children, youth, people with disabilities, newcomers, Indigenous people and seniors.

Through this partnership, Brock’s evaluation team will examine how the NPI has addressed poverty in Niagara, possible approaches to enhance the initiative and future program evaluation techniques. Evaluation is a critical component of any strategy and the residents who benefit from NPI projects will see enriched outcomes from this research.

The data collected will contribute to a body of knowledge that will support poverty reduction programs across the province.

“The Niagara Prosperity Initiative is a unique Regional program that has supplied funding for hundreds of community programs, touching the lives of more than 1 out of 5 residents,” Regional Chair Alan Caslin said. “Evaluation of all our programs, including the prosperity initiative, is an important part of our mandate as we’re always looking for ways to enhance performance and deliver the highest value for our residents. We’re proud of what the NPI has accomplished over the past decade and look forward to our new partnership with Brock University.”

This investment by the Government of Ontario is just one way the province is bolstering innovative local programs that support groups disproportionately affected by poverty. Through the Local Poverty Reduction Fund, Ontario is helping to break the cycle of poverty for children and youth, increase employment and income security, and end homelessness in Ontario.

“I am pleased that the Niagara Region and Brock University are partnering together to evaluate the success of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative in addressing the issue of poverty in Niagara. With support from the provincial government through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, this assessment will provide valuable information to better support those still struggling with poverty in our community,” said St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley.

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