We have established six core priority areas that guide our work and planning.
1. Best Practices in Partnerships
The Community Partnerships Office cultivates and stewards a range of partnership initiatives that are building a knowledgeable, skilled workforce for Toronto today and in the future. In doing so, we understand the importance of developing an approach that is informed by academic research, proven models of partnership, and applied best practices developed from real-world situations. CPO initiatives are created through the power of networks in response to social environmental factors with a problem-solving approach among multiple organizations from more than one economic sector.
2. Community & Economic Development
The Community Partnerships Office has fostered networks of community agencies, private business, government and citizens groups to deliver their services in concert. Collectively, we work to tackle the complex and persistent socio-economic challenges facing Toronto’s low-income neighbourhoods.
Our work began in 2005 with an invitation from Regent Park Neighbourhood Initiative and the Downtown East Community Collective and The Daniels Corporation to help realize a new community vision for Regent Park. Working with other partners, we developed strategies for bringing education and opportunity to the community simultaneously.
Six years later, we play key roles in Regent Park’s Education and Economic Development Hubs, Pathways to Education Programs and The Regent Park Culinary Arts Café currently in development. We also support local leadership and capacity building as advisors to Regent Park Focus and The Downtown East Economic Development Collective. The Community Partnerships Office is involved in a number of citywide initiatives to support a significant level of educational access and attainment that is effectively changing the lives of people in Toronto’s high needs communities.
The Community Partnerships Office is dedicated to the success of all students – especially those from non-traditional or under-represented groups. Informed by best practices, community voices and evidence based research, The Community Partnerships Office’s bridging programs respond to a wide range of student needs and learning styles. Over the course of our six year history, we have been recognized by our peers and partners for our leadership role in programs that support all students, whether the student is the first in their family to attend college, or they are returning to school for the first time in 20 years to retrain for a new career. In all cases, we get the right players at the table, identify the problems, develop customized solutions and continuously evaluate and refine our responses.
To find out more info about our Education programs please visit our Programs section.
4. Innovation in Learning
The Community Partnerships Office is a committed practitioner and advocate for experiential learning. We take learning off the page and outside of the classroom to address the real barriers to educational access and attainment. To do this, we partner with industry and community organizations to ensure our students learn from professionals in real-world environments. To find out more information about our Innovative programs, please visit our Programs section.
5. Research and Evaluation
Research in the field of access to post-secondary education by non-traditional students has primarily focused on the barriers individuals face or on isolated programs that support the individual
in achieving success. There is minimal literature on a systemic coordinated strategy that spans the course of a student’s experience within their post-secondary experience.
The CPO has taken a leadership role in this area developing a strong framework for evaluating all of our work. We identify and create access models that address students’ complex needs as well as institutional challenges. Furthermore, we are using this knowledge base to establish new and improved approaches at the college, ministry and systemic levels.
The Community Partnerships Office has conducted research and advanced evaluation strategies in the areas of education, employment and partnership models. In each case, we have integrated community-based research techniques that respect and leverage the contributions of individuals of all ages, experiences, and educational backgrounds. Please visit our Evaluation & Research section for details on our projects.
6. Advocacy and Policy Change
Working across sectors, the Community Partnerships Office provides a unique and informed contribution to public dialogue and policy reform on workforce development, education and community development. Our role involves developing stakeholder consensus for asset-based approaches to systemic change.
By example, in 2009 the Community Partnerships Office became part of The Toronto Crown Ward Education Championship Team (TCWECT). The purpose of the TCWECT is to develop and initiate strategies to support youth with Crown Wardship status to increase their awareness of, participation in and success at all levels of the educational pathway, including postsecondary education, training and employment.