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For more than two years, residents and governments have been called upon to ‚Äúbuild back better,‚ÄĚ rather than accepting a mere return to ‚Äúnormal.‚ÄĚ The 2022 Toronto Social Capital Study serves to direct attention beyond slogans, to what this might mean in practice. The partners to our study have collectively identified a range of priorities that can be adopted by various stakeholders in our city. What each of the actions has in common is that they address, in their own ways, the twin challenges of building connectedness and inclusivity within the city. In this regard, Toronto has considerable resources of social capital to draw upon. The engagement and trust people have with one another and their communities is the foundation upon which we can collectively develop a city that works better for everyone

   PRIORITIES FOR DONORS AND FUNDERS

  • Reinvest in community and social service organizations that are addressing heightened needs with fewer resources. The likelihood of donating to charities fell among Torontonians from all income brackets. Those with income security can lead the way with increased supports.
    Support a combination of hyperlocal organizations and networked organizations engaging across sectors to find collaborative solutions.
  • Change happens at both levels.
  • Focus philanthropic resources toward those organizations most in need of support and most attuned to local needs, particularly smaller, grassroots groups led by the communities they serve.
    Provide unrestricted, multiyear operating support, so that organizations can determine for themselves how best to deploy resources and with the confidence to plan long-term.
    Make transformational gifts to support systems-change efforts. The work is critical yet often underfunded in comparison to more direct services.

 

   PRIORITIES FOR ORGANIZATIONS AND BUSINESSES

  • Recognize the broader role you play in creating and strengthening social networks, particularly for those most isolated. For some, the convening opportunities you provide may be at the centre of their social connections.
  • Become an Ontario Living Wage employer to provide equitable employment.
  • Identify and reduce barriers to online participation in programs and services. Without deliberate steps to overcome existing technology gaps, online communication tends to benefit those who are already the most connected in the community, not the most isolated.
  • Invest in capital improvements to ensure safer working environments for those who want or need to be in-person
  • Build links through deliberate and consistent outreach to those most at risk of isolation, such as those who are unemployed and those with poor mental health.
  • Prioritize improving youth mental health through increased awareness and expansion of programs, including preventative programs and services. Greater focus should also be placed on system developments, such as better coordination of services and supports, improved access and more culturally appropriate approaches.
  • Reconnect Torontonians with local charitable organizations. Employers can encourage volunteering during work hours and matching employee donations

 

   PRIORITIES FOR GOVERNMENTS & POLICYMAKERS

  • Acknowledge and dismantle systemic racism within the police services that lead to low levels of trust in the institution. Such reforms must be informed by community advocates and particularly Black Torontonians, who hold the lowest trust.
  • Develop strategies to enhance the low levels of public trust in local political institutions through consultations with groups that hold the lowest confidence, particularly younger residents.
  • Invest in community infrastructure beyond the traditional physical assets to expand to spaces that bring people together: safe and accessible outdoor spaces and culturally appropriate and responsive neighbourhood and youth centres.
  • Engage residents, especially lower-income residents, more meaningfully in neighbourhood planning processes, so they can influence decisions and benefit from the social, health and economic impacts of change processes.
  • Target public transportation policies toward the needs of specific populations in the city who face greater barriers to mobility and connection. This means more frequent, flexible and affordable services for those who need them, particularly those with a disability, and for those with lower incomes and those who are unemployed.
  • Public transportation policy should look beyond the need to get people to and from work or school, to building pathways to connect with community activities, including volunteering opportunities, and arts and cultural programs.

 

   PRIORITIES FOR ENGAGED TORONTONIANS

  • Join a group outside your typical social circle. Get involved in the wider community and strengthen the foundations of social capital.
  • Attend local arts and sporting events. Those organizations are among the hardest hit by the pandemic and can often draw in a diverse cross-section of society.
  • Donate as much as you can. Connect to a cause that is related to these findings. For example, organizations serving young people, especially women; LGBTQ2s+ and Black residents, as well as those supporting those who are under and unemployed; and those living with disabilities.
  • Support young adults as they seek to establish careers and families in an ever more challenging world.
  • Learn about systemic forms of discrimination and consider your capacity to help generate more social capital for those historically with barriers to access. Experiences of discrimination affect the whole community, not just individuals, by sapping shared reserves of social capital. Working to eliminate all forms of discrimination is the sine qua non of building back better.

 

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Read the latest news, stories and insights on the city's needs and opportunities; organizations working on solutions; and how to get involved with your philanthropy.