Using Design Thinking to improve parental involvement with early childhood development programs

Can design improve early childhood development in a community and help lower poverty levels? That’s the question that e4c, Panorama Innovation and Barnraise participants set out to answer during their two day design challenge at the BarnRaise Edmonton event that took place from March 17-19, 2017 in Edmonton, Canada.

The challenge at hand was to help e4c increase parent participation in their early child development programs in order to help reduce the effects and impact of poverty.

“One out of every five Edmonton children – nearly 33,000 – is living in poverty. Just over one in three Edmonton children who live in a lone-parent family live in poverty," according to the 2014 "A Profile of Poverty in Edmonton" report from the Edmonton Social Planning Council.

This was the first time e4c had taken a design thinking approach to solving a community problem. Improving parent participation was identified as the first step to helping reduce the effects of poverty, but parents in the community were not taking as active a role as was needed to make this happen. The Barnraise event and Panorama Innovation’s facilitation helped identify areas where improvements could be made using design as the catalyst to that change. The verdict? It was a success.

While solving any problem of this magnitude will take time and additional resources, e4c learned a lot in the process and they were happy with the outcomes. Planning and Evaluation Manager Deshay Wachilonga was encouraged by the momentum that was started and believes they have come away with a process and ideas they can use going forward.

“The design approach introduced us to interesting ways of breaking down the problem into subject areas that could be comprehensively explored and then brought back together into one meaningful and productive discussion.” - Deshay Wachilonga, Planning and Evaluation Manager, e4c

There were several early concepts identified by the team during the Barnraise event:

  1. Quick Connect - Develop a set of tools for facilitators and parents to quickly learn about one another.

  2. Creating an “I Belong” Environment - Developing a sense of belonging through physical and experiential elements.

  3. Alumni Activation - Leveraging existing alumni to create ambassadors for the e4c program and connecting alumni with current parents in the program.

By taking a design thinking approach to these opportunity areas, BarnRaise participants were able to leverage creativity, along with theory and practice of design to create solutions for the community.

They were also able to deliver some physical solutions. Tangible prototypes of suggested deliverables, such as welcome boxes for new parents coming into the program, were created by the design teams. There was also lively discussion groups, group work, and facilitation that brought all the elements together to achieve the greater goal.

“When parents and children feel like they belong to a group, they are more likely to be engaged and less likely to drop off, thereby participating to a greater capacity and referring the program to others.” - Kelly Costello, Panorama Innovation

Part of the success of any new process is the willingness of participants to use the process going forward. According to Wachilonga, e4c will be using the design process for another project in the near future and they are excited to see continued development in their fight to end poverty in Edmonton, Canada.

To learn more about e4c and get in touch please visit: e4calberta.org

To learn more about Panorama Innovation and get in touch please visit: panoramainnovation.com

To learn more about BarnRaise Edmonton and get in touch please visit: id.iit.edu/barnraiseedm17

Andrea Burkhart becomes first Executive Director of EndPovertyEdmonton!

EndPovertyEdmonton Co Chairs Dr. Jeff Bisanz and Bishop Jane Alexander are pleased to announce that Ms. Andrea Burkhart will join EndPovertyEdmonton in June 2017 as its inaugural Executive Director.

Ms Burkhart has spent the last six years as founding Executive Director of ACTAlberta, the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Alberta Association. In this role, she successfully launched, grew and led the development of a robust community organization dedicated to advancing collaboration and partnership to address the complex issue of human trafficking.

 “Andrea Burkhart impressed us with her passion for human rights, her knowledge about collective impact and poverty, and her adaptive, bridge-building approach to leadership” said Dr. Jeff Bisanz, “We feel confident she will work collaboratively and purposefully with the new EndPovertyEdmonton groups - and our many community allies and partners - to advance our immediate goals and to eliminate poverty in our city within a generation.”

Asked about her hopes and visions for this role, Ms. Burkhart said, “I am honoured to work with the visionary community leaders of EndPovertyEdmonton. Tackling poverty is big work. The political will, community support and appetite for collaboration mean Edmonton is ready to move the needle and I am eager to serve in this capacity.”

Andrea Burkhart will take the helm at EndPovertyEdmonton on June 6, 2017. She will be working out of the United Way Alberta Capital Region offices at 15132 Stony Plain Road, as that agency is generously providing office space and is acting as fiscal agent for EndPovertyEdmonton.

EndPovertyEdmonton visits Hamilton for the Cities Reducing Poverty Conference

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The EndPovertyEdmonton team visited Hamilton recently for the “Cities Reducing Poverty: When Business is Engaged” summit, hosted by the Tamarack Institute’s Vibrant Communities Canada.

We were joined by over 300 colleagues tackling poverty at the municipal, provincial, federal and non-governmental levels across the country. However, the main emphasis of the conference was about engaging business effectively.  This included a keynote speech by Michael McCain on a new initiative to reduce food waste and another address by Hamilton businessman Mark Chamberlain, who is the past chair of Hamilton’s Poverty Reduction Roundtable.  Referencing major strides made towards public health over the years, he asked the audience “Are we trying to solve the right problem?” when it comes to poverty. He and others at the conference implied that incremental change may be slow and frustrating but sometimes it may be the most effective way to have an impact on poverty.  

Hamilton was a fitting host city, given that its mayor, Fred Eisenberger, had just spearheaded a $50 million plan to tackle housing and poverty over 10 years. Other cities making major strides included Victoria, B.C. with its new Social Procurement Plan and St. Catherines, ON, which is now in the process of adopting a “compassionate city” strategy.

Topics at the summit included how to encourage businesses to pay a living wage, promoting universal basic income and engaging those with lived experience through innovative programs such as Hamilton’s “Speakers’ Bureau”.

The Hamilton conference followed up on last year’s poverty reduction summit in Edmonton, which included a keynote by Mayor Don Iveson.  This year, the Edmonton contingent was busy sharing the EndPovertyEdmonton story.  The EPE team held a workshop session on the EndPovertyEdmonton journey, with a special emphasis on the human rights & reconciliation approach that grounds our work while Bishop Jane Alexander provided consultation on the National Poverty Strategy with Member of Parliament Adam Vaughan, the Parliamentary Secretary for Housing and Urban Affairs.  Sandra Huculak shared how Alberta Treasury Branch is working with Boyle Street Services to engage women in financial empowerment with its pioneering EmpowerU initiative while the Edmonton Community Foundation shared its strategy for creating a Community Development Corporation.

The team left Hamilton recharged and inspired by the stories of colleagues across the country engaged in the same work, while happy to share the emerging EndPovertyEdmonton story.

End Poverty Community Publications Video Launch

On February 9th, EndPovertyEdmonton kicked off its first year as a community driven collective for change! more than 100 members of the public, including members of the Task Force, the 5 Community Tables and others who helped shape a progressive, inclusive and visionary Strategy to end poverty in a generation assembled at the Anglican Diocese in downtown Edmonton. Representatives from Edmonton’s Indigenous, faith and non-profit sectors came together with municipal and provincial government officials to mark the launch of two community publications: the Edmonton Social Planning Council’s Profile of Poverty in Edmonton 2017 Update and the Action Guide for Edmonton Religious and Spiritual Communities, produced in partnership by the Anglican Foundation, the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative and EndPovertyEdmonton. Both publications underlined the launch of the Five Year Plan: a set of 35 concrete, tangible actions designed to lift 10,000 people out of poverty.

Design Thinking to Help Edmonton Community Organizations End Poverty

Barnraise is coming to Edmonton! BarnRaise is a two-day “maker” conference pioneered by the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design in Chicago. It brings together community organizations, design firms, and participants to tackle social issues embedded in the local community: this year’s design challenge is improving early childhood development for a poverty-free future in Edmonton, which very much aligns with End Poverty Edmonton’s goals. Local non-profit organization Media Architecture Design Edmonton (MADE) is hosting BarnRaise at the Robbins Health Learning Centre at MacEwan University on March 17-19, 2017. 

Barnraise is a new kind of think-and-do event, where participants will hear from leading experts in the field of design and social innovation and work in interdisciplinary teams to build a human-centered understanding of the challenges in early childhood development and poverty, and in turn, prototype viable solutions for Edmonton-based community organizations. These organizations include the Bissell Centre, E4C, The Family Centre, Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre, and ABC Head Start.  In total, 10 teams will be working together, using a human-centered design approach to social innovation.

Gary St. Amand, the CEO of the Bissell Centre says Barnraise represents a new opportunity for social innovation in Edmonton: “If we are going to see real change in the social issues facing our communities, we need to find new ways to address old problems. BarnRaise creates the opportunity for just that to happen. This is an innovative approach to arriving at innovative solutions.”

Other organizations and speakers include the Winnipeg Boldness Project, who’s project director Dianne Roussin will start the conference off with an exploration of the indigenous context of urban childhood development, Anijo Mathew from IIT Institute of Design exploring design for social impact, Aleeya Velji from ABSI Connect; Tricia Lirette, the Chair of Human Services and Childhood Development at MacEwan University highlighting the importance of early childhood development for future success; Janice Wong, the Senior Design & Insights Lead at Doblin; and Kelly Costello, the Founder of design firm Panorama.

BarnRaise is predicated on an innovative cross-cultural team approach     to solving problems.  This will be the first BarnRaise event in Canada and the fourth in total after Chicago (twice) and San Francisco.The IIT Institute of Design (ID) is a world-renowned design school in Chicago, Illinois, who’s long-time dean Patrick Whitney, is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s design program.  

For more information and to register, please visit the BarnRaise Edmonton website at https://www.id.iit.edu/barnraiseedm17/ or MADE, http://www.joinmade.org/.

EndPovertyEdmonton is hiring!

We are hiring! One of the most important EndPovertyEdmonton steps for this inaugural year is to find someone to head up the EPE Secretariat as the Executive Director. With significant funding committed by Edmonton City Council to the Road Map and EndPovertyEdmonton in December, the move to implementation and action is underway. The search is on for someone special to work with EPE's Stewardship Round Table, all Edmontonians and partners to steward and grow the Road Map and movement to end poverty in Edmonton in a generation.

Think about your circles of influence and individuals who you believe are bridge builders, movement makers and collaborators, and encourage them to apply! This position will be a critical step to activating EndPovertyEdmonton as a community entity. 

Here is the recently posted link to the EndPovertyEdmonton Executive Director position. It's on the City web site and has been posted on LinkedIn, the United Way Web site shortly as well, and we hope you will help share it broadly. It is open until March 8. Thanks to the City of Edmonton HR team and to our United Way partners for support in getting this out. Once the Executive Director position is filled, check back for updates on other positions for the Secretariat!

Moving to Action! February 9th Community Publication Launch

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On February 9th, EndPovertyEdmonton kicked off its first year as a community driven collective for change!

In what felt like a reunion of old friends and colleagues, more than 100 members of the public, including members of the Task Force, the 5 Community Tables, the Count Me In Network and others who shaped a progressive, inclusive and visionary Strategy to end poverty in a generation assembled at the Anglican Diocese in downtown Edmonton. Representatives from Edmonton’s Indigenous, faith and non-profit sectors came together with municipal and provincial government officials to mark the launch of two community publications: the Edmonton Social Planning Council’s Profile of Poverty in Edmonton 2017 Update and the Action Guide for Edmonton

Religious and Spiritual Communities, produced in partnership by the Anglican Foundation, the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative and EndPovertyEdmonton.

Jodi Stonehouse brings Treaty 6 Territorial Greetings on behalf of Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild.

Jodi Stonehouse brings Treaty 6 Territorial Greetings on behalf of Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild.

EndPovertyEdmonton Co-Chair Bishop Jane Alexander and EPE Strategic Planner Sameer Singh

EndPovertyEdmonton Co-Chair Bishop Jane Alexander and EPE Strategic Planner Sameer Singh

Edmonton City Councillors Ben Henderson & Michael Walters alongside CRIHI's Batya Friedman

Edmonton City Councillors Ben Henderson & Michael Walters alongside CRIHI's Batya Friedman

Both publications underlined the launch of the Five Year Plan: a set of 35 concrete, tangible actions designed to lift 10,000 people out of poverty. However, ending poverty is about more than just numbers and economics. It requires a holistic approach, based on human rights, eliminating racism and shifting perceptions.  As Mayor Don Iveson stated, ending poverty is a profound step towards reconciliation, so in honouring the treaty spirit, we acknowledge that we are all of us treaty people.

Thematically, EndPovertyEdmonton is powered by groundbreaking research and best practices. This includes the Collective Impact approach: a robust, collaborative strategy to achieve large-scale social change and 6 foundational actions that we call Game Changers. EndPovertyEdmonton co-chair Bishop Jane Alexander summarized the holistic nature of these key features of the Road Map, and how it evolved from the Strategy.

Edmonton Social Planning Council's Executive Director Susan Morrissey introduces the Profile in Poverty 2017 Update

Edmonton Social Planning Council's Executive Director Susan Morrissey introduces the Profile in Poverty 2017 Update

MLA for Edmonton-Centre David Sheppard speaks on behalf of the provincial government

MLA for Edmonton-Centre David Sheppard speaks on behalf of the provincial government

When the Task Force was first convened in 2014, Alberta’s economy was in much different shape than it is today.  So it is only natural that the question of whether ending poverty has gotten harder since then. Well, even though the provincial economy has suffered, the Profile showed that progressive measures such as the new Canada Child Benefit, the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit (AFETC) and the Alberta Child Benefit (ACB) are having a direct impact on lifting people out of poverty.

More than 40 organizations are strategically aligned with EndPovertyEdmonton including school boards, community leagues, foundations like the Stollery and community organizations like the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. A major partner for EPE has been the interfaith community, so we were happy to celebrate the launch of the Action Guide for Edmonton Religious and Spiritual Communities.

Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative's Housing Coordinator Batya Friedman introduces the Action Guide

Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative's Housing Coordinator Batya Friedman introduces the Action Guide

Batya Friedman, the Coordinator of the Capital Region Interfaith Housing, Margaret Glidden, the director of Communications of the Diocese and Zahra Somani of the Pirani Group and a member of the Stewardship Roundtable shared some real-life stories about how Edmonton’s different faith groups are working towards eradicating poverty in ways both great and small, from daily to long term solutions.

Finally, Indigenous Cultural Knowledge Keeper Lloyd Cardinal and his friends got us all on our feet with an honour song to mark this special day of moving to action.

Hope Mission: Giving Care and Dignity to Their Guests

The Hope Mission just recently opened their doors 24 hours per day, which is a new and important asset to our community. Round-the-clock access to services was something we heard was needed, loud and clear, in the development of our End Poverty Edmonton Implementation Road Map. Learn more about learn more about the organization and how they support their guests.