Our Story Why We Exist
Community is the result of building relationships and sharing resources - it is created by its members, and is the result of making “space" to get to know each other, to collaborate, to create opportunities and find solutions that work for everyone.
Community hubs (like CommunityWise) are an idea that both community and policy-makers agree make sense. Reports, conferences and symposiums have all addressed the many reasons that they do. Across the country and around the world, community hubs have emerged as an important way to meet critical local needs and preserve community assets.
The need to address racial discrimination is very real in Calgary, as the city becomes more and more diverse and as the culture here adapts to change. The Youth Centre at CommunityWise serves immigrant, refugee and Indigenous youth ages 12 – 24 and saw the need to do something about racism many of the youth face. Beltline Youth Centre wanted to put on a community celebration of diversity and inclusion, showcasing the talent of the youth who use the centre and inviting wider community to join in.
- A great idea! But how is it possible to organize an event on top of all the everyday demands of running a youth centre?? Needs and capacity to meet these needs don’t always match up... thankfully community hubs can help!
CommunityWise facilitated collaboration, provided space and secured funding for two CommunityWise member organizations, Beltline Youth Centre and Aboriginal Friendship Centre, to put on a special event for the International Day to End Racial Discrimination.
The Youth Centre came to CommunityWise to collaborate on the event because we had announced our interest in collaborating with members. We were delighted and spread the word to other member groups immediately. The Aboriginal Friendship Centre, another member group with offices at CommunityWise has been collaborating regularly with us and was interested in supporting the Anti-Racism Day event.
Suddenly in only three weeks time, we were organizing a big community event together! What better way to acknowledge and address racial discrimination than to work with diverse communities and all ages towards a shared goal? What better way to come together than in a fun, celebratory and educational event?
The event attracted around 100 children, youth and adults, which happens to be the maximum capacity of the main common room! People were spilling out of the building into the yard. Attendees enjoyed a free meal sponsored by our local City Council Ward, funding secured by CommunityWise staff. CommunityWise board members came out to the event, as did representatives from other organizations in the building. Children and youth from Calgary After School programs and from the Youth Centre had opportunities to perform and share their experiences through hip hop and spoken word. The audience made up of a diverse range of CommunityWise members, educated each other on the issue of racism from the perspective of youth and through stories shared by Aboriginal Friendship Centre representatives.
Recognizing the need, collaborating with members and providing the space, CommunityWise had a vital role in this unique and transformative event. Member groups were empowered to find relevant responses to complex social problems.
Together we created the space for community to thrive.
Community Wise exists:
- To meet critical local needs and preserve community assets.
- To bring services and resources together to better serve Calgarians.
- To build the capacity of smaller nonprofits and foster their success.
- To help break down the often stubborn territorial pride that keeps groups from working together.
- To help build bridges between various players, from arts and culture, social and environmental justice, immigration and settlement, support groups, youth services, and poverty reduction.
Our Impact What We Do
At CommunityWise we offer more than just subsidized office space - we build the capacity of non-profit organizations by creating opportunities that facilitate increased knowledge, skills, efficiency, opportunity and effectiveness for our members by activating their collective skills and capacity.
Community hubs (like Community Wise) are an idea that both community and policy-makers agree make sense. Reports, conferences and symposiums have all addressed some of the many reasons that they do. Across the country and around the world, community hubs have emerged as a community solution and as an important way to meet critical local needs and preserve community assets.
CommunityWise is comprised of over 70 members consisting primarily of multi-sector non-profit and grass-roots organizations serving small and marginalized communities. Together we have a long-term vision “to achieve equitable social change through collaborative work” through our mission “supporting diverse organizations, enhancing their collective impact by providing an inclusive community space.”
“CommunityWise does a really good job of providing a space where all are welcome.”
2015 Annual Report - Highlights:
- Lion Award – Calgary Heritage Authority – Front Porch Restoration, July 2014
- Alberta Historic Resources Foundation Award – Front Porch Restoration, October 2014
- Interior Improvements – Painting; Office Flooring; Common Space Flooring; Other Enhancements (Security Bars, Recycling, Air Conditioner, and further interior work).
- Exterior Projects – Drywell Reinstallation; New backyard Fencing; Historic Front Doors; and Safety railing front staircase.
- Art - City of Calgary Public Art – Green Footprints Project; Calgary Women’s Health Collective Interactive Art Display; and Boys & Girls Club Murals.
- Community Events: Members’ Night; Winter Party and Talent Show; Garage Sale; and Farewell Trees Appreciation Ceremony.
- Regular Programming: Burnout Prevention League; and a variety of Lunch n’ Learns (6).
- Collaborations: Social work practicum placement host site; Community Service Learning host site; Community Development Learning Initiative (CDLI); Board Leadership Calgary; Calgary Arts Development meet-up; Public art host site for Green Footprints Artist Collective; Mini Zine Fairs; Taking Action on Systemic Oppression; and Equinox Vigil.
Consensus Decision Making for Social Workers for Social Justice; Consensus Decision Making at the Alberta College of Social Workers 2015 Conference; Transportation and Gentrification on 12th Avenue at Community Connections YYC; and Anti-Oppression Training for Next Up Calgary.
Our Programs How We Do It
OUR MEMBERSHIP: Member organizations include dozens of diverse grassroots and non-profit agencies, in sectors ranging from arts and culture, immigrant community associations, youth serving agencies, LGBTQ community resources, environmental groups, social justice advocacy and more.
Community Development Goals
- To have thriving organizations with adequate space
- To have a space where people want to be
- To create opportunities for better social investment
Community Development Tactics:
- Provide reduced cost rent and resources to membership organizations
- Facilitate room sharing agreements
- Create a space where member organizations can share information and stories
- Provide reliable and fast internet connections to member organizations
- Create policy and procedures to foster safer spaces for all members
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES: CommunityWise provides a variety of programs and services to over 80 tenant and associate member groups including their constituents, supporting their ability to deliver their missions effectively and build organizational capacity and resilience.
CommunityWise facilities offer affordable and accessible office and meeting spaces, shared equipment and resources, and bring together the work of diverse groups through co-location and collaboration. CommunityWise programming offers inclusive opportunities for resource and knowledge sharing through monthly and ongoing programs that address issues relating to a wide variety of topics including, professional and organizational development, collaboration and community building, peer support, and workshops relating to environmental, social, and economic justice.
Programs and Services Goals:
- To have the right staff in the right places
- To provide appropriate supports to members
- To support a strong membership community
- To create stronger communities across Calgary
FACILITIES: CommunityWise is the steward of The Historic Old YWCA. Constructed in 1911 our building is over 100 years old. As a result, we have unique repairs and maintenance requirements.
While CommunityWise strives to ensure that organizations here have access to the most affordable, accessible, and functional work environment this is an increasing challenge.
CommunityWise is in need of support to properly fulfill our historic conservation plan which included upgrades to building systems, refurbishment of historic features, and renovations to office and program meeting space.
- To protect a public asset – historic building – according to stewardship values
- Renovate and update building so that it is accessible, vibrant and welcoming
To provide building operations rooted in the practice of stewardship
Our Requests What You Can Do
Support CommunityWise through two key areas:
Members, Programs and Services Educational and networking opportunities for members and community. For example, your contribution could fund equitable access to programming, professional and peer training for vital grassroots organizations.
- $50 Adopt a Lunch 'n Learn (financial literacy, social media, first aid, member skill share and more...).
- $200 Sponsor a member in need – office rent for one month
- $2000 Office for one year -Sponsor a member in need
- $5000 Diverse and inclusive signage – design and production
Facilities Keeping the lights on and the doors open, maintaining and restoring our 100 year old heritage building. For example, your contribution could support an upgrade to the building’s electrical systems or fund the construction of a secure bike shelter in the back yard, to encourage sustainable transportation among members.
- $75 Cover the cost of our monthly recycling services by Big Pal Glenn and C.A.S.S. (CASS is a Not-For-Profit Human Service Agency supporting people with disabilities to escape segregation & discrimination)
- $100 Replace a broken hallway light ballast
- $500 Replace worn out carpet in an office with efficient & sustainable carpet tiles
- $1000 Replace an old toilet with an environmentally friendly low - flush version
- $1500 Internet – Provide over 80 organizations with one month of vital access to the internet