Community-led solutions work. Especially when it comes to keeping people working

For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on many segments of our local economy. The necessary health orders and guidelines have created tremendous challenges for the many community-led programs in our inner city that help provide training and income-earning opportunities for those with a spectrum of barriers to employment. This has been an extremely difficult and scary time for the many people in our inner city who depend on these programs to earn the money they need for their day-to-day expenses. Fortunately, many of our community partners have demonstrated the agility required to quickly adjust or pivot their programs to continue providing people with the opportunity to work.

One example of this is Mission Possible. This social enterprise supports individuals who are challenged with poverty to navigate their journey to a sustainable livelihood. Mission Possible’s Employment Readiness Program provides individuals with employment training, individual coaching and transitional work opportunities in their social enterprises, focusing on building maintenance, cleaning and similar work areas. After initially suspending their programs last spring, Mission Possible was able to restart information sessions and workshops with appropriate safety protocols this past August. With the restart, Mission Possible introduced a new women-only training program. A trauma-informed practise, this equity-seeking initiative resulted from input from participants and the many women’s organizations that refer women to Mission Possible. The program recognizes the need for women-only training environments and schedules sessions to accommodate single mothers who must manage child care. Central City Foundation was pleased to support this amazing community-led solution through a grant to fund the purchase of women-appropriate workwear, including rain gear, hats, high-visibility vests and boots.

Another community-led solution that has found a way to continue helping people in our inner-city stay working is the JustWork Economic Initiative, a long-standing community partner of Central City Foundation. Through their social enterprises that include JustCatering, JustRenos and JustPotters, this unique organization provides dignified, gainful employment to people who face barriers and struggle to work in the traditional workforce. “We’ve been fortunate this past year that through some scheduling adjustments, new health and safety procedures, along with some service repositioning that we’ve been able to continue providing work to our employees,” said Russell Pinson, Executive Director of JustWork. “We’re grateful that we’ve continued to have demand for our products and services and even more so that this demand has resulted in continued employment for people with barriers to the traditional workforce. We’re hopeful that these opportunities will continue in the coming months as things start to open up again.”

Many other Central City Foundation community partners are continuing to provide income-earning opportunities during COVID-19 for those with barriers to employment. These organizations include the Binners’ Project, Megaphone, EMBERS, Potluck Catering, DTES street market and many more.

When you support Central City Foundation, you are supporting the many community-led organizations that help people in the inner city improve their lives. Please consider making a donation today.