About the TNC Cd-Renewal Initiative

Project Activities | Agency Role in Cd | Defining Cd | Context | More...

Please Note: The current phase of the Toronto Neighbourhood Centres' CD-Renewal Initiative has now been completed (project activities were conducted between November 2006 and 2008). Please visit the "resources" page of this site to view project reports and helpful resources.


The TNC Cd-Renewal project will contribute to building our city's "connective tissue" by supporting nonprofit organizations to realize more of their Cd vision, increase their Cd capacity in communities, support other constituencies engaged in Cd work (institutions, community groups and networks), and become lead champions of the need to expand community development practice in our city.

We seek to strengthen nonprofits' capacity to facilitate Cd work, and in turn strengthen communities by increasing equitable opportunities for collective action to promote social justice.


What Will the Project Do?

Over the course of two-years (Sept 2006-2008) the TNC CD-Renewal project will popularize strategies for organizations to maintain "Cd practice in tough times", reinforce the work of current Cd practitioners, and help to rekindle the organizational capacity of non-profit community agencies to carry out community development practice.

Want to learn more about the potential to strengthen community development practice within your workplace or network? That's precisely what the CD-Renewal Initiative is for! We can help with ideas, making connections, sharing strategies, facilitating discussions with staff or board members, and more.

The Contribution of Community Agencies

Community nonprofit organizations can be a critical resource for civic engagement and social change. They are in a position to play a central role in networking and collective action, convening, discussion and community problem solving, and facilitating processes that help to articulate shared agendas across diverse community constituencies. At the same time they are community-directed infrastructure anchoring the delivery of direct services to individuals, families and groups. Their promise is one of a holistic integration of service-provision, community engagement and collective action to promote broader social change.

Organizational CD Roles:
The CD-Renewal Initiative believes that organizations can play various roles to facilitate CD in their communities. Agencies may act as:

  • CD Practitioners: providing leadership and direction for CD initiatives. Examples may include engaging groups, facilitating discussions, leading group process, organizing community forums, gathering input for community and public education.
  • CD Enablers: ensuring various resources are available to groups engaged in CD (meeting, networking and planning). Examples may include supporting leadership in the community, acting as trustees for unincorporated community groups, and enabling the funding and organizational development of emerging community groups.
  • CD Brokers: connecting people to CD-related information and activities and linking with other social justice groups. Examples may include ensuring that programs and spaces make information available about CD activities and connecting people with campaigns and political/ advocacy discussions.


What do we mean by "Community Development?"

CD covers a broad range of approaches and strategies, and can be defined in many ways.

The CD-Renewal Initiative has adopted the following working definition, principles and values, and organizational characteristics of CD.

Working Definition:
CD is working collaboratively to create connections that mobilize people and resources to reduce social and economic inequality. Through this activity, capacity is built to continuously improve collective well-being.

Principles and Values
Some of the principles and values that our TNC CD-Renewal Initiative holds as critical to CD include being:

  • Group-focused: Connects individuals sharing common concerns.
  • Bottom-up: Engages those affected by challenges, ensuring they set and drive the agenda for change.
  • Inclusive: Ensures community members of diverse backgrounds and capacities are able to participate in meaningful ways.
  • Enabling: Facilitates a collective response to conditions that people experience individually as exclusion and disadvantage.
  • Change-oriented: Seeks to address root causes and systemic barriers that create conditions of inequality and exclusion.


Some examples of Community development practice that can be supported by neighbourhood centres and other non-profit organizations include:


  • Outreach to community members who don't come to agencies (this includes door-knocking, linking to places of worship, etc);
  • Organizing community forums for people to come together to identify and solve problems (e.g. Town Hall meetings, celebrations);
  • Supporting leadership in the community (e.g. participant involvement in Advisory Committees, Boards, volunteer and leadership training and mentoring, etc);
  • Networking (organizing community and volunteer groups to come together, sometimes with and sometimes without agencies);
  • Public education (bringing information to community members about policies or external factors that affect or will affect their lives);
  • Organizing advocacy efforts with community members;
  • Planning, including gathering input from the community, developing options for the community to consider, helping marshal resources to implement the plan.


Why Now?


Our city needs these community development supports now more than ever, across cultures and languages, between newcomers and longer-term residents, across income groups, and to bridge other differences that can generate conflict and exclusion. TNC believes that this objective needs to be a central pre-occupation of our municipal government, institutions, the non-profit sector, and concerned Toronto residents.

One of the fundamental challenges facing our city is the lack of "connective tissue" linking community residents together, and linking local networks and peer support groups to community agencies, government services, and institutions.

These are the building blocks needed for democratic participation and real civic engagement, but they are significantly lacking in many areas of our amalgamated City. At the most basic level we are lacking adequate capacity to sustain ongoing opportunities for diverse community members and constituencies to express their perspectives, to make connections across silos, identify shared issues, and be supported to work collaboratively to improve their communities, both neighbourhoods, and communities of interest or affinity.

More About the Cd Renewal Initiative