Where We Started
Five years ago, we launched our Out of Poverty Campaign. This campaign included an effort to link our clients’ journeys with measurable outcomes of success. To do this, we created an initial definition of four key metrics – mostly financial – that we believed brought us closer to achieving our mission of ending poverty, one family at a time. These metrics are:
1. Earning a living wage
2. Eliminating inappropriate debt
3. Increasing savings
4. Being free from government assistance
With these metrics, we also set a bold goal to see 10,000 people move out of poverty. Five years into our KNOW Poverty Campaign, we have a deeper understanding of the way our services truly impact a family’s experiences on the path out of poverty.
What We Learned
Since then, we have learned the importance of viewing poverty as a system and understanding how the interconnected areas are impacted by CCFW’s entire suite of services.
Poverty is complex. It weaves together financial wellbeing, emotional and mental resiliency, education and job opportunities, and so much more. For our anti-poverty efforts to be as effective as possible, we must view our services from the way our clients actually live within this system.
Each family and individual comes to us with unique obstacles in their fight against poverty. We also know that these obstacles are not independent of one other. They are often intertwined and dependent on other factors, some within our clients’ control and some not.
Our programs are uniquely positioned to address a myriad of key factors that keep families in poverty. Because of our agency’s commitment to research and evaluation, we have expanded our understanding of what it takes to support a client in their journey out of poverty. Over the past five years, we have shifted our focus to a more encompassing and multidimensional view.
“We have always known that poverty is complex and no one’s journey is the same.
Pathways will allow us to focus on each program’s specific attributes and to align those with clients’ needs.”
Where We’re Going
We have identified five different domains, or pathways, in which our programs create impact:
Increasing clients’ ability to manage their financial futures through debt reduction, savings and healthy credit.
Programs like Beyond Belief and Employer-Based Services provide financial coaching and education in order to empower clients to make strategic decisions with their regular income and assets.
Helping clients increase their earning power through the completion of post-secondary education.
Stay the Course, Rural Vocations and EARI coach clients through their educational journeys, helping them overcome obstacles to staying in school, and ensuring that they reach their goals.
Fostering a sense of self-efficacy, developing executive function and strengthening emotional regulation.
Programs like Padua empower a client to develop executive function by helping them set goals and create actionable plans to achieve those goals. Another example, Refugee Mental Health supports clients’ development of emotional regulation through established partnerships with mental health professionals and facilitation of peer network groups.
Reliable transportation, affordable housing, food security, accessible healthcare, to name a few, are all critical supports that influence a family’s ability to move out of poverty.
Some of our programs directly contribute to this stability by providing strategic financial assistance. Many of our case management programs also work to help clients find, access and leverage available support services to secure the assets they need for baseline stability.
In many ways, a family’s resource stability is only as strong as our community-wide support system. Building a healthier system of resource stability also requires advocating for more robust public safety nets and public goods within our community.
Obtaining (and maintaining) stable employment leads to valuable workforce experience, wage growth and sufficient income, strengthening a family’s long-term stability.
CCFW Programs like Career and Vocational Services and Refugee Employment Services help clients find suitable jobs, craft resumes, perfect their interview techniques and garner valuable workplace soft skills.
Moving forward, each program will measure success with their own individual outcomes. By recognizing the effect of each domain, we’ll be able to more appropriately measure our impact and support clients.
Our financial metrics will continue to play an important role in measuring the success of programs in which financial resiliency is identified as a key outcome. The goal of establishing these pathways is not to devalue these financial metrics, but rather to distinguish the vital role each area plays in our anti-poverty efforts. Areas that research has shown play a huge role at predicting poverty levels down the road.
Our goal remains: To help 10,000 families who are experiencing poverty. This shift allows us to help countless more families over the next few years. By identifying a larger system of anti-poverty pathways and tailoring our programs and services to work effectively within them, we’re able to help clients at all points on their journeys through poverty, rather than simply labeling them as “out” when they meet four financial benchmarks. In doing so, we’ll have more celebrations of success, more acknowledgment of clients’ progress and more recognition of the incredible service each of our programs is providing to our clients, whether they are out-of-poverty or not. We will continue to honor the lived experiences of our clients, which are more complex than financial indicators alone.
This will not happen overnight. It will take time to determine the best metrics for each of our programs. Over the next year, our Research and Evaluation team will work with our programs to identify the most impactful measurements within each pathway.
We are incredibly excited to enter a new chapter for our agency, with a framework that expands our understanding of what we have already been doing to deliver lasting impact for our clients.