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Catalyzing a National FE Community of Practice
12 December 2022
The financial empowerment (FE) sector in Canada is an innovative and ever-changing field but scarcity of resources has long presented capacity challenges, especially for national, coordinated initiatives as frontline service partners need to prioritize the immediate needs of the communities they serve.
Prosper Canada has played a backbone role in key projects that have built and strengthened alliances across provincial and national boarders (e.g., the
National Financial Empowerment Champions
Ontario Financial Empowerment project
Financial Wellness in First Nations Communities
, among others).
When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, front-line financial empowerment service providers grappled with a whole new set of challenges. While this sector has always been innovative, the changes COVID brought to our work and personal lives were unprecedented in many ways. One of which was the speed at which our whole sector had to adapt to ensure that Canadians living on low incomes could continue to access the critical financial empowerment services they needed.
There was a sudden and urgent need to bring front-line service providers together to contend with these hurdles, ask questions, learn from each other’s solutions, and share experiences. And so ‘Coping with COVID’ - a
Financial Empowerment Champions Community of Practice
(FEC CoP) - was born in April 2020.
The online platform “Basecamp” provides a virtual space for the CoP - now over 140 practitioners, policy makers and supporters - to share tips, tools and resources, ask questions and exchange current information. Participants are invited monthly to join online “Meetups” - 30 to date - to hear guest speakers, discuss issues with practitioners from 40+ different organizations, and broadly support each other to improve and expand community financial help services that are being delivered across Canada.
Although we launched this CoP with the goal of supporting frontline workers to cope with COVID, the network has evolved as a community of financial empowerment practitioners, learners and experts that meet virtually on a regular basis to connect with others doing similar work and facing similar challenges – As noted by one Community of Practice member, “I learn more through the meetings with Prosper [Canada] than anywhere else and very much appreciate the meetups, Basecamp, and the support from Prosper [Canada].”
Ontario FEC and CoP Member
While initially launched “off the side of our desks” with no dedicated funding for this work,
Coast Capital Savings
(CCS) stepped in to support this Community of Practice in 2021. This 1 year funding enabled Prosper Canada not only to continue animating this vital space for FE practitioners to connect but has also allowed us to make this a strategic priority and pursue dedicated funding that will allow us to more fully support the growth, effectiveness and diversity of our Community of Practice and national FE network beyond 2022. We look forward to sharing more information about this renewed focus in the new year.
For more information about joining our
Community of Practice
Layla Rich, Program Delivery and Integration Officer