Metcalf Launches Inclusive Local Economies Program

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Inclusive Local Economies Program.

The world of work has changed. In the past, many low-wage jobs in Toronto were the first rung on an economic ladder that led to greater skills, meaningful vocations, and higher pay. But today’s low-wage jobs are often dead-end, short-term positions that offer little chance of yielding the opportunities necessary to make a decent living for oneself and one’s family. This reality pulls at the social and economic fabric of this city – dampening aspirations, producing poverty and growing inequality, and challenging our collective conviction that Toronto should provide real possibilities for those who seek them.

The Inclusive Local Economies Program is the Metcalf Foundation’s response to this growing challenge. Our goal is to support people and organizations to develop the ideas, the strategies, and the policies that can improve low-income peoples’ economic livelihoods and access to quality jobs.

The new program includes the:
• Opportunities Fund, an open grant stream that calls for original ideas and compelling approaches to catalyze creative, bold action on this issue; and
• Resilient Neighbourhoods, a pilot project aimed at improving the economic opportunities available to low-income people in two Toronto neighbourhoods.

We will also draw on our Foundation-wide programs, the Innovation Fellowships and Renewal Program, to advance our impact.

The Inclusive Local Economies Program builds on the accomplishments and learnings of the Foundation and its partners over the last six years to address poverty reduction in the City of Toronto through our Community Program that concluded in the summer of 2011.

At the heart of our new initiative continues to be the belief that to address issues of poverty and growing inequality we require multi-dimensional approaches, insightful leadership, a long-term view, good strategy, timely resources, and an ongoing process of transforming ideas and relationships in order to generate new action.

As we move into this new area of work, we believe we need to work on multiple interconnected levels in order to be effective in enhancing the livelihoods of low-income people. As many of the challenges about why people are poor are systemic – rooted in the changing labour market and not solvable at an individual or neighbourhood level – we will continue to support efforts at a policy level over the long-term. At the same time, we want to contribute to innovative ideas and strategies that can make a material difference in the quality of life of low-income people in the near term. Given this, we envision a set of responses that will be focused at a neighbourhood and community level.

We look forward to working with a broad range of partners to create a healthier, more equitable and inclusive city.

An information session about the new program will be held on Thursday, October 27th from 9:30 – 11:00 am at the Wellesley Institute, located at 10 Alcorn, Toronto (nearSummerhill subway station).

Updated!  We have received a lot of interest in this information session.  We have decided to change the location of the session in order to accommodate more people. We have moved the session to AccessPoint on Danforth at 3079 Danforth Avenue (near Victoria Park subway station). 

To register for the session please contact Heather Dunford at  Space for this session is limited.

To download the Inclusive Local Economies program guidelines click here.