Poverty is not an inevitability that we are powerless to change

Prepared by BCAPI, December 2017

Poverty Ends When A Child Succeeds

Poverty is not an inevitability that we are powerless to change.

The cycle of poverty can be broken when we concentrate on children, their healthy development and education success.

Educational success is proven to be one of the most effective factors in ending generational poverty. Substantial research confirms that ‘education’ is a powerful lifelong determinant of income, employment, health, and overall societal development. Research also tells us a child who grows up in poverty is destined to live a lifetime of poverty unless they are supported with strong education to employment pathways.

In 1997, senior business leaders organized to help Saint John ‘break the cycle’ and substantially reduce poverty. BCAPI (Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative) formed when its founder, Bill Gale, sounded the alarm at a large business meeting he convened. He said, “Today, one in three children live in poverty in our City of Saint John. This is wrong in every way. The terrible long-term consequences for the children and their families and the costly burden for our community, governments and businesses cannot be tolerated. Our business leaders must help to solve this problem. Together, we must refuse to fail.”

Saint John business leaders were compelled to find solutions. Together, they established BCAPI (a charity whose members are business leaders and professionals) and vowed that no child in the future would ever again suffer lifelong poverty.

Guided by research, BCAPI decided to focus its work on the long term education success of Saint John children, from cradle to career. BCAPI’s own data collection confirmed that children who lived in low income neighbourhoods were significantly lagging behind in their educational progress and were at high risk of not completing high school.

BCAPI sought out partnerships with schools, community organizations and neighbourhoods to operate quality programs that would enrich children’s education and help them succeed from cradle to career. BCAPI then called on the business community and government to invest their resources in these new approaches to achieve a common goal – every Saint John child graduates.

The Saint John strategy focuses on 4 key result areas - early childhood education, early literacy success, education enrichment for every child in-school and after-school 12 months of the year, and high school completion. Continuous evaluation helps Saint John learn what children need to succeed.

The children’s progress has been very encouraging at every grade level. Between 2009 and 2016, the graduation rate (after 4 to 5 years of high school) for teens from the low income neighbourhoods rose from 65% to 78%. Saint John’s target is 90% by 2020.

BCAPI and its partners have learned what works for low income children and have meaningfully engaged 100+ organizations and their employees and volunteers in this common cause. Future success lies in scaling up the work to reach more families.

Today BCAPI joins with government and community leaders to end generational poverty, through the Living SJ collective impact strategy. Living SJ leads the next phase of this work - strengthening community-wide contributions, services and systems to effectively improve the education, health, employment and living conditions of families, so that every child succeeds. For more information, visit www.livingsj.ca

Katie Bowden