LIFT is currently developing the UpLift Credit Exchange, a key element of this proposal, and has been supporting the development of the St. James Town Community Cafe since 2011, which is now The St. James Town Community Co-operative. During this time, members of the Cafe and LIFT engaged in site visits and discussions with inspiring social enterprises and co-operatives in Ontario and telephone interviews with others around the world. In 2013, the Cafe project conducted a thorough feasibility study to identify the most strategic and sustainable way forward for developing the cafe and other community building project ideas in St. James Town. This study concluded that a community co-op model was ideal for this neighbourhood, citing the Muskoka Community Co-op and the Halliburton County Community Co-op as primary (rural) examples.
LIFT has a long history of incubating community projects (since 1988), working with youth, immigrants, single mothers and others, on food security and intercultural community development. Since 2000, LIFT has partnered with Ryerson University, George Brown College, the Wellesley Institute, Yonge Street Mission, City Hope, TCHC, the St. James Town Youth Council, Community Corner, City of Toronto (Tower Renewal Project), the Wellesley Community Centre, Neighborhood Information Post, Public Health, Rose Avenue PS, Green Thumbs Growing Kids, Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre, the St James Town Safety Committee, Centre for Social Justice, and the Forest Hill Rotary Club, in generating and supporting local research, projects and programs.
We are also in the process of developing a partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital to engage St. James Town residents in further primary research to help inform the development of this collaborative co-op model and contribute to providing transferable knowledge to other communities interested in this innovative approach to providing meaningful employment.
This concept is also informed by international research on the importance of co-operatives in contributing to sustainable development such as the 2014 International Labour Organization and the International Cooperative Alliance report, Cooperatives and the Sustainable Development Goals; and, by the growing literature on timebanking, such as the 2014 New Economic Foundation study The New Wealth of Time: How Timebanking Helps People Build Better Social Services, and interviews with time banks across Ontario to explore challenges and successes within the province.
We are seeking a 2 year budget of $175,000 and we hope you will agree that this innovative proposal which has emerged from years of community engagement, is deserving of sustained support. Please see a detailed budget attached.
March 2015 – Community Co-op is incorporated, credit exchange software and design in progress.
April 2015 – UpLift Credit Exchange Coordinating Committee is formed, co-op recruits members
May 2015 – UpLift Committee begins to meet monthly to implement the model
Summer 2015 – Research and Development of combined Model; UpLift soft launch
Fall 2015 – Up to 3 community projects supported by the Co-op; UpLift hard launch
Winter 2016 to Fall 2017 – UpLift and Co-op running, evaluation of, and modifications to model