Durham Workforce Authority awarded Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grant

Ontario Trillium Foundation

Funds to research social and economic problems faced in south Oshawa

OSHAWA — The Ontario Trillium Foundation has awarded The Durham Workforce Authority (DWA) a Seed Grant of $62,000 over 8 months to develop a grassroots collective impact approach to community and economic planning in the Lakeview Neighbourhood of south Oshawa. Working with local partners, the DWA will implement a pilot project that will develop and test a locally driven, grassroots, approach to community engagement and collective impact, empowering resident in this neighbourhood to be engaged and involved in the economic and social planning process for their community. The anticipated outcomes of this project will be:

  1. To create opportunities for residents living in the Lakeview neighbourhood to be empowered to identify the most pressing and relevant social and economic concerns facing their neighbourhood,
  2. To implement a collaborative process through which residents may be empowered to lead the development of locally relevant solutions to these concerns, engaging local organizations, decision makers, and institutions.
  3. To develop a grassroots community development and economic planning model that supports collective impact, and that that may be deployed in other priority neighbourhoods in Oshawa and Durham Region.

“This project will explore the challenge of community grassroots engagement at the community level in a neighbourhood where individuals and families may generally be marginalized from the community and economic planning process,” said DWA Executive Director Heather McMillan. “These neighbourhoods, with high levels of poverty, and high social and economic needs, are often subject to community improvement planning and economic strategies, but rarely are the individuals and families who live there included fully in these planning and development processes.”

In the Region of Durham’s Health Neighbourhoods initiative[1], Lakeview (south Oshawa), was identified as one of five priority neighbourhoods in Oshawa, characterized a poverty rate of 26 per cent, and an unemployment rate of 14 per cent. The neighbourhood also consistently ranks near worst across multiple healthy neighbourhood indicators in Durham Region. In addition, this community, once the primary location of a strong manufacturing sector, has been particularly hard hit by Oshawa’s economic transition, characterized by the 2005 elimination of 3,900 jobs at GM plants located in this neighbourhood.

As a result of these characteristics and changes, this neighbourhood, and others like it, face significant social and economic problems.

“This project will develop and test a new approach to local community engagement in the planning process, building on a model of collective impact and grassroots leadership,” says Ben Earle, a director at Social Planning Durham, and one of the DWA’s lead partners in the project, “it is a great opportunity to engage and empower communities differently, hopefully leading to new ideas a strategies for community growth and positive change”.

Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grants support projects at the idea or conceptual stage to achieve a priority outcome of the Foundation. These grants provide from $5,000 to 75,000 for up to one year and are used for the development of new ideas and different approaches to achieving results in Ontario communities[2].

An agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities.


For more information call Heather McMillan, 289-600-5053


[2] See details on the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Action Areas and Priorities at http://www.otf.ca/what-we-fund/action-areas?redirected=1