Over the past two decades, in the City of Toronto, we have come to understand the increasingly geographic nature of poverty. Research, including United Way Toronto’s Poverty by Postal Code (2004) and Vertical Poverty (2011) and David Hulchanski’s Three Cities (2010; 2015), has demonstrated that inner suburban communities like Kingston Galloway/Orton Park (KGO) have become home to many people whose choices are limited by poverty.

What it looks like, is a community where almost 30% of people live below the Low Income Cut Off (see Kingston Galloway/Orton Park community for more details). The challenges faced by the people living in KGO go beyond the fundamental and very real challenges of living in poverty; the community itself provides additional challenges like:

  • Poor transit options
  • Few economic opportunities
  • A built form that fosters isolation

And yet, KGO, like all communities, holds tremendous potential. The residents of KGO have skills, passions and talents; the organizations run meaningful programs; the institutions and businesses hold knowledge, ideas and resources.  The Storefront’s goal is to unlock this potential so that the community itself offers a network of support, resources and opportunities for the people who live here.

In the late 1990’s when The Storefront was born (see Storefront History), the social sector was fighting for survival. Funding trends encouraged neighbourhood organizations to take a deficit based approach to their work: people have deficits which prevent them from participating in society, the social sector’s role is to support people to find solutions to these individual deficits in the form of social service provision. While this approach does offer critical social service support for the people who needed it most, it also led to a fragmented system of service silos.

The Storefront has, since its inception sought to do community work differently. Instead of a deficit-based approach to community change, The Storefront takes an asset-based approach which has come to be known as the Connected Community Approach (CCA).

At The Storefront we leverage what is good in the community for the benefit of the community; we connect ideas, resources, opportunities and passion; we bring opportunity and resources and connect them to local initiatives.  Our role, is that of a Community Backbone Organization: a connector, communicator and convenor

Why does The Storefront and our approach matter? The KGO community faces many challenges. It also holds many opportunities and much potential. The Storefront and our Connected Community Approach is a catalyst for breaking down silos, helping people and organizations in and around the KGO work better together. We are as aware of the community’s strengths and aspirations as we are of its challenges. We work together with everyone to ensure that we leverage community resources, talents, ideas and passion. We help the whole community operate in concert instead of in isolation.  This means more opportunities are available and more potential can be realized by and for the people of this community.

Want to learn more about the Storefront’s approach?  Please download our Theory of Change.