Aspire Calgary improves the financial wellbeing of Calgarians living on low income by building the capacity of our partners to implement financial empowerment strategies and interventions.
Originally formed in 2015 under the name The Calgary Financial Empowerment Collaborative by founding partners The United Way of Calgary and Area, the City of Calgary, Vibrant Communities Calgary, The Province of Alberta, Bow Valley College, and Momentum. As of 2018, the Financial Empowerment Collaborative has transitioned into the Aspire Calgary brand.
Financial empowerment is a poverty reduction strategy that focuses on improving the financial security of individuals living on a low income. The evidence-based model includes complementary strategies that result in improved financial knowledge, inclusion and stability. Not a substitute for other poverty reduction activities, financial empowerment is a critical component that is often missing or underutilized. Financial empowerment interventions can significantly boost participant outcomes when it is integrated into other programs and services such as income assistance, employment programs, housing and homelessness services, and primary health care.
Momentum, in partnership with Aspire, is one of five national Financial Empowerment Champions through the national Financial Empowerment Champions project. We have partnered with Prosper Canada to deliver and scale proven financial empowerment interventions in the City of Calgary, as part of a national goal to improve the financial wellbeing of one million Canadians living on a low income.
Aspire is a Collective Impact initiative. Collective Impact is a form of collaboration bringing together different sectors to solve large complex issues, such as financial instability. Our current structure is based on the Constellation Model of Collaborative Social Change.
Aspire’s Steering Committee is comprised of cross-sector partners that provide strategic guidance, vision and oversight for the Aspire collaborative and serve as vocal champions of the Collective Impact effort in the community.
Working Groups are the heartbeat of Collective Impact – where the action occurs, and goals are brought to life. These groups are where practitioners come together to contribute their time, expertise, passions, and lived experiences to help develop and implement strategies. Aspire has four core working groups that align with its four programming areas: Taxation & Benefits, Matched Savings, Education Savings, and Financial Education & Coaching.
A core strategy of each Working Group is community capacity building. Each body of work has an in-person training that is designed for front-line staff, and this training includes all resources that a front-line staff would need to run a financial empowerment program. After receiving training, staff have access to a Community of Practice which meets on a regular basis to support practitioners in sharing best practices and resources, continuing to build their knowledge and skills, and advancing their professional practice.
As the Backbone for Aspire Calgary, Momentum provides supporting infrastructure to coordinate the work among Aspire’s partners and push forward the overall initiative. Key Backbone activities include: providing overall project strategic coherence, serving as a neutral convener and facilitator, managing data collection and analysis, supporting community engagement, developing effective communication, and fundraising to help support the work of Aspire. Momentum was chosen by the Calgary United Way as a successor in the Backbone role and has been supporting the work of Aspire since 2017.
Aspire’s work plays an important role in the City’s Enough for All poverty reduction strategy, with Financial Empowerment named as lever of change to support the strategy’s goal that all Calgarians have sufficient income and assets needed to thrive.
By offering relevant, accessible, and timely services and supports, Aspire addresses the needs of those living in poverty to develop key knowledge and strategies to lift them out of poverty through financial empowerment.
“Families and individuals need income to get by and assets to get ahead. Calgarians should have the support they need to optimize their incomes, increase their financial assets and reduce their debt while preserving their integrity and dignity.”
– Enough for All 2.0, 2019
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