KGO ACT (All Community Together)
KGO ACT is a place-based strategy to address structural and systemic barriers youth face to accessing the supports they need to thrive. This innovative project has been named by local youth KGO ACT: All Community Together.
Originally funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation as a three-year project, KGO ACT is a neighbourhood wide initiative that supports service delivery organizations to increase their capacity to effectively engage youth. To do this, KGO ACT focuses on increasing meaningful opportunities for youth to engage in and influence the programs, services, and opportunities that affect their lives.
In order for youth to meaningfully influence their surroundings, they need supportive environments in which to hone their own leadership skills. Therefore, fostering youth leadership is fundamental to the KGO ACT initiative. The development of leadership skills is primarily accomplished through the intentional support of youth-led ‘demonstration projects’ each hosted by a different community organization. The premise behind demonstration projects is that “bringing youth to the table” in a traditional sense has not often worked well. The “table” and the norms of social service organizing are not necessarily compatible with the passions, self-expression and work styles of youth. Instead of bringing youth into spaces dominated by adults, the demonstration projects support youth to:
- affect change in their communities through activating their own ideas
- build their leadership capacity
- learn about data collection and analysis and presentation
- understand how their neighbourhood is like an eco-system and that they and their peers can connect to it, influence it and benefit from it in multiple different ways
- strategically engage with organizations to articulate the changes, ideas and innovations they would like to see implemented in local youth programming
Demonstration projects include:
Let’s Inspire for Today (L.I.F.T.) – Youth develop their own leadership capacity in order to foster stronger youth-led civic engagement and action for change. Youth engage in and provide peer support in: group facilitation, project management, research methods, and more.
Youth Sports Unlimited – focuses on creating positive connections and sense of belonging amongst youth through sports and recreation.
Walk in My Mocs – focuses on addressing community issues through the lens and teachings of Indigenous culture. They aim to create greater access to information about programs and services and host events for marginalized youth by marginalized youth.
Art Fusion with KGO – a community arts mentorship program for youth by youth working to build skills and enjoyment in the arts and project management. They are currently working toward completing projects in 3 art forms: photography, theatre and culinary arts.
Evaluation outcomes demonstrate how using this eco-system approach to supporting youth influence on and access to programs and services holds tremendous promise.
For information on KGO ACT contact Maddy Macnab at firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2006 The Storefront has played this role by co-facilitating the Kingston Galloway/Orton Park local Neighbourhood Action Partnership (NAP) with a Community Development Officer from the City of Toronto. The original NAP was made up of people representing City Services, Nonprofit organizations and local residents; from 2006-2011 this dynamic network of players launched a community market, published a Neighbourhood Resource Guide, created a community wide emergency response protocol and more. As other priorities took over, over time, City Services were no longer mandated to participate at the NAP table, NAP slowly lost its momentum. A core group of six local organizations, however, were unwilling to lose the valuable approach to co-created strategy and, out of NAP emerged Cross Community Organizing (CCO) facilitated by Storefront staff. It was CCO that identified the need for community organizations to better support youth and began co-creating an approach which eventually became KGO ACT.
Simultaneous to the emergence of CCO, The Storefront entered into a groundbreaking new relationship with University of Toronto Scarborough
The UTSC/KGO partnership was designed to to foster mutually beneficial collaboration between University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) and the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park (KGO) community with overall goals of:
- Sharing insights gleaned through academic and community work
- Using knowledge, opportunities and facilities available through UTSC to strengthen the KGO community
- Using the Storefront’s networks and collaborations to provide opportunities for meaningful engagement in the KGO community to UTSC students and staff
Based on the principles and practices of the Connected Community Approach, and co-created over a three year period, key UTSC staff and faculty, in collaboration with Storefront staff and community partners, created an approach to community/university partnerships based on reciprocal learning:
- An Emerging Model for Meaningful Community-University Partnership: Evaluation of the KGO-UTSC Partnership (2011-2014)
Over the four year life of the project (2011-2015), the partnership created multiple opportunities for the community and for the university:
- Course: Mindfulness and the Arts
- Course: Writing Your Life
- East Scarborough Run for Fun
- Soccer-Baseball at UTSC
- Learn To Play Tennis 2014 Program
- Spring Tennis Program
- Summer Tennis Program
- KGO Kicks Soccer Club
- 2nd annual Community Connections Leadership Forum
- Understanding Your Environment – A 6 week course for residents of KGO
- Learn to Play Tennis – Summer program for youth
- Resident Rising, NAP and University of Toronto Scarborough Safety Project
- YouTube video: KGO Community Safety Project
- WaterWise: Every Drop Counts – A festival to learn about and celebrate water
- 1st annual Community Connections Leadership Forum
- The Lives of the Poet: A hands-on intro to writing poems
The KGO-UTSC Partnership was awarded the Vital Ideas Award from the Toronto Foundation in 2014. Receiving the Vital Ideas Award has meant that we were able to share our reciprocal learning model with national and international university staff, faculty and students and community organizations. Special thanks to our supporters!
The KGO/UTSC partnership and the work of Cross Community Organizing been were key foundations critical to the creation of so many other cross neighbourhood initiatives including KGO ACT and East Scarborough Works
For more information on Community/University partnerships contact Maddy Macnab at email@example.com
Support For Success
At East Scarborough Storefront, we work in emergence which we define as “where momentum meets opportunity”. KGO ACT inspired a cross community desire to understand the community as an eco-system and to strengthen that eco-system and the players within it (social sector organizations, schools, city services, businesses etc.) to better support youth.
As the first three-year pilot of KGO ACT was winding down, a new opportunity arose. The Wellesley Institute was looking to apply research rigour to understanding how strong the links are between and among service providers at various life stages from birth to career. In 2017 we began a new journey with the Wellesley Institute to better understand the KGO neighbourhood and how players interact:
Supporting children and youth through transitions
Supports for Success aims to improve educational, economic, and social outcomes for children and youth. There is a wide range of programs and services across sectors that support youth throughout different stages of their lives – from infancy, to early and middle childhood, to adolescence and adulthood.
However, many youth, especially those from marginalized groups, can become lost in the transitions between support services as they age and move between life stages. Supports for Success aims to help strengthen the connections between these services.
Understanding strengths and needs through research
After an initial phase that involved learning about successful international initiatives that inspired this work (such as Collective Impact, Cradle to Career, Connected Communities), Supports for Success is now in its second phase, which involves a series of research and knowledge translation activities that will take place in 2018.
Our methods are focused on identifying, mapping, and assessing existing programs and services, and understanding how to strengthen this system to improve outcomes for children and youth. With our partners, we will undertake this research in four sites that represent a cross-section of youth in Ontario: Scarborough, Kingston, Brantford, and Thunder Bay. We are also working to ensure our approach is informed by Indigenous community practices, knowledge, and values.
Our research activities
Our four research activities are designed to collect information at different levels of analysis (listed below). We will be consulting with community partners at throughout the project to ensure that our research methods and activities build-on, align, and support pre-existing initiatives in each community.
Community profiles will collate existing population-based data, including demographic information and important health and social indicators that have been shown to predict healthy development.
A social network analysis will focus on the connections between programs and services supporting children and youth.
An inventory of relevant community organizations, programs and services will help provide a broad picture of the menu of programs and services supporting children and youth.
Interviews and sharing circles will be used to understand the experiences, success strategies, and challenges of families, children, and youth throughout development.
Towards action and change
Our research and knowledge translation initiatives will inform a third phase, which involves co-developing interventions with stakeholders and community partners. We will leverage a collective impact approach to design interventions that draw on successful models and demonstrate measurable impacts on education, employment, social, and health outcomes for young people.
Who we are
Supports for Success is a project of Wellesley Institute, funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD), and aligned with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services’ Collective Impact for Disconnected Youth (CIDY) initiative. We are also partnered with the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health.
Local teams will lead research and engagement at each community site, with management and coordination from a central team at Wellesley Institute in Toronto. Wellesley Institute works in research and policy to improve health and health equity in the GTA through action on the social determinants of health.
For more information on Support for Success contact Maddy Macnab at firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth Success Data Knowledge Exchange
In March 2019, The Storefront partnered with the Wellesley Institute, the Centre for Connected Communities, the Students’ Commission, and the Toronto Child & Family Network to facilitate the Youth Success Data Knowledge Exchange. This event came out of the Wellesley Institute’s motivation to share the results of the Supports for Success research project with the community (see above), and it also built on KGO ACT’s recent cross-community strategizing around youth in the KGO ecosystem.
The event gathered 40+ people working to support youth in Kingston Galloway/Orton Park to connect and explore local youth-focused data together. At the event, we were able to share with participants not only the results of the Supports for Success research, but also the results of seven other recent community-based research projects that were focused on youth. For a fuller recap of the event, photos, and links to event materials including data visualizations/infographics and a summary of emerging ideas, see our blog post about the event.