Featured Fellow: Paul Born

CREATING A POVERTY-FREE CANADA

Kate Gunn has seen firsthand the magic of Paul Born’s approach to ending poverty

As interim Director of End Poverty Edmonton, Kate is part of the city’s bold plan to end poverty within a generation — with a strong focus on reconciliation and antiracism.

It’s a plan informed by Paul’s work as the co-founder and co-CEO of the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement. Tamarack spearheads a visionary — and, more importantly, achievable — poverty-reduction movement across Canada. One that currently encompasses 388 municipalities, with the direct support of federal and most provincial governments. Nine out of 10 Canadians live in a community with a Tamarack-inspired poverty-reduction plan.

Tamarack brings together community members with direct lived experience of poverty alongside representatives from the business, government and not-for-profit sectors. Together they identify their individual community’s strengths, needs and priorities for poverty reduction.

Then, they create plans that may encompass raising the minimum wage, supporting single moms with affordable childcare, creating tax incentives for businesses to hire full-time rather than part-time workers, even shifting transit routes so that people without cars can commute to work more easily. Community members, says Kate, directly experience Tamarack-inspired approaches in almost every facet of their daily lives.

And it’s working. Not just in Edmonton — where child poverty rates were cut in half between 2015 and 2017 — but across the country. Canada reduced poverty rates by 20% between 2017 and 2019 to the lowest levels in recorded history. “What’s more,” Kate says, “we’re on track to a 50% reduction as early as 2024.”

Paul believes that communities accomplish more together. And that belief is infectious.

Tamarack is on track to reduce Canadian poverty levels to 8%. “At that point, we can afford a guaranteed basic annual income for every Canadian” says Paul. “We’re going to end poverty as we know it, in 10 years. Can you imagine it?”

Paul Born

Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement
Waterloo, ON

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When I think of Paul, I think of community … he sees possibilities rather than problems and barriers. He listens, reflects deeply, and seeks innovative and collective action for change. And the results are astonishing.”

Kate Gunn, End Poverty Edmonton

Paul’s innovative work to end poverty, and build community capacity, is at the core of our mission to support and build resiliency in communities in which we operate and across Canada. His deep passion and endless sense of possibility are matched only by the rigour of his work and methodologies. We are proud to partner with Tamarack and Ashoka Canada to create a poverty-free Canada, where everyone can thrive.”

Lori Hewson, Director, Community Investment and Social Innovation
Suncor Energy and Suncor Energy Foundation

Highlights from the Network

“Winning the war on poverty”

New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks credits Ashoka Fellow Paul Born with leading Canada to its lowest poverty rate in history.

“Ending poverty is ‘the most important thing to do if you want peace in the world.’”

And Ashoka Fellow Paul Born is figuring out how to make it happen. In the Waterloo Region Record.

“In Canada, communities lifted more than 200,000 families out of poverty in seven years.

Why don’t we do what they did?” The Philadelphia Citizen features Paul Born under “Ideas We Should Steal.”

“We’re smart about social issues and we’re actually quite good at collaboration. But what we want is a better result.”

Melody Barnes, John Kania, Brenda Zimmerman, Jay Connor and Paul Born speak to the power of collective impact work.

Deepen the impact of the Fellowship community

“Ashoka is an amazing community of changemakers who care for each other and together build a better world.”

Paul Born, Ashoka Canada Fellow