A partnership between the Niagara Region and Brock announced last May is examining the Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI) and its impact on Niagara communities.
Lori Watson, Director, Social Assistance and Employment Opportunities for Niagara Region, said the research project “will help the Niagara Region develop an updated report outlining the state of poverty in Niagara — an analysis on the impacts, outcomes and offer recommendations on best practices moving forward.”
The three-year research project was funded through a nearly half-million-dollar grant from the Government of Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund and will culminate in a final report to be released in 2021.
The NPI provides $1.5 million annually to support poverty reduction and prevention activities throughout the region. In its 10 years of operation, the NPI has funded some 365 projects delivered by 85 local agencies to help more than 100,000 individuals and families experiencing poverty across Niagara.
Brock’s transdisciplinary research team is led by Jeff Boggs (Geography and Tourism Studies), Michael Busseri (Psychology), Darlene Ciuffetelli Parker (Teacher Education), Joyce Engel (Nursing), Tiffany Gallagher (Teacher Education), Kevin Gosine (Sociology), Felice Martinello (Economics), Dawn Prentice (Nursing) and Dennis Soron (Sociology).
In 2018, the NPI evaluation team:
- Formulated a communications strategy
- Formed a community advisory team
- Reviewed previous research, statistics and the landscape of poverty and poverty reduction efforts in Niagara and comparable regions
- Interviewed people who were instrumental to the development and management of NPI, with a focus on NPI’s history and objectives
- Spoke with NPI-funded project leads with a focus on the impact of NPI funding
- Created a comparison of actual and expected outputs
- Analyzed testimonials from NPI service users
In 2019, the NPI evaluation team is aiming to:
- Form a lived experience advisory group
- Continue speaking with NPI-funded project leads
- Measure the impact of NPI assistance on service user well-being
- Survey a representative sample of Niagara residents affected by poverty
- Evaluate NPI-funded literacy projects
- Develop inclusive photo-reporting practices
- Assess service user feedback mechanisms
- Review the NPI request for proposal and review process
The NPI evaluation team received contributions and support from a number of places, including Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute, which initiated the partnership and facilitated the grant application process, the Faculty of Social Sciences and the wider Brock community.
Members of the Community Advisory Team, including Catherine Livingston, Diane Corkum, Jackie Van Lankveld and Jane LaVacca, reviewed and provided feedback on the project plan. Fourth-year Sociology students conducted 25 interviews with NPI-funded project leads. The Information and Analytics Team, a business unit with Niagara Region’s Information Technology Solutions division, identified and facilitated access to poverty-related data collected by the Niagara Region and its partners.
For more information, visit the NPI Evaluation project website at brocku.ca/npi-evaluation.