Why We Exist
“CommunityWise is a rare and incredibly valuable staple in the Calgary community. CommunityWise has led the way in offering physical and social space to marginalized groups long before societal access to space became a reality.” – Calgary Queer Arts Society (CommunityWise member)
Shared space is powerful and we know that nonprofit hubs are capable of achieving a number of significant benefits. This includes allowing small organizations to spend a higher proportion of their funds in directly impactful ways. The cost savings and stability resulting from nonprofits being located in a shared space are most often re-directed to increased existing program-related spending. Other uses include the development of new services and programs, and increased staffing (2015 State of the Shared Space Sector Survey, Nonprofit Centres Network, p. 3).
Beyond this, however, CommunityWise is defined not only by the building as a physical centre, but by the communities, the organizations, and the individuals who occupy it. Playing much more than a landlord role, we strive to learn from, and be in relationship with, our members. This means that the strategies and tactics through which our mandate is carried out are heavily influenced by the groups who use the building. Accordingly, we have been encouraged by our strong, longstanding, and trust-based relationships with our members to meet them where they are at, striving to meet their unique needs to ultimately better enable them to meet their own goals.
Our 85 member groups connect with CommunityWise in so many different ways. They are small organizations that dedicate themselves to peer support or advocacy around marginalized populations and issues. According to our 2019 member survey, 61% of our members reported having annual budgets of less than $50,000. This statistic obscures the fact that a large portion actually have annual budgets of less than $15,000 and are entirely run by volunteer support.
Their words reveal the multiple reasons why CommunityWise exists:
“The benefits of being housed at CommunityWise have been immeasurable. We have been able to expand our services and vision from the offering of counselling services to the facilitation of client groups, the hosting of a platform of therapists from all over Calgary, and the organization of workshops with instructors from the city as well as abroad.” – Calgary Narrative Collective (CommunityWise member)
“Thanks for all the terrific community support. CommunityWise helps us do our work better through your supportive staff, reasonable rent as well as connecting to other social justice, environmental and arts groups.” – Alberta Media Arts Alliance (CommunityWise member)
“Of the many positive aspects of the Anti-Racist Organizational Change (AROC) project, I most appreciate that CommunityWise is committed to promoting inclusion and equity not only as an outcome, but also through its process. Meaningful change that prioritizes the voices of those most impacted by racism is far-reaching and vital, and I am thankful for the learning and growth I have gained with AROC.” (Working Group Participant)