Aspire Calgary creates change for Calgarians on low income

What do you get when you combine more than 25 organizations dedicated to eliminating poverty through financial empowerment? You get Aspire Calgary. 

Aspire Calgary is a multi-sector collaborative founded in 2015 originally as the Financial Empowerment Collaborative by The United Way of Calgary and Area, the City of Calgary, Vibrant Communities Calgary, The Province of Alberta, Bow Valley College, and Momentum. The Financial Empowerment Collaborative transitioned to Aspire Calgary in 2018, with Momentum as the backbone organization. 

Financial empowerment is about building capacity in communities. Aspire Calgary facilitates programming with all 25+ of its cross-sector partners, each offering services in one or more of four key areas to low-income Calgarians: Taxes & Benefits, Match Savings, Education Savings, and Financial Education & Coaching. 

In just 2018, more than 8,800 participants went through these programs. During which time: 

  • 7,721 tax returns were filed, resulting in $3.3 million in refunds 
  • 756 new RESPs were opened 
  • More than $390,000 in Matched Savings Dollars were earned 

Aspire Calgary uses financial empowerment as a tool to reduce poverty, which is currently faced by 128,000 Calgarians. “With financial empowerment, every Calgarian receives the necessary income and assets to thrive,” says Franco Savoia, Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary – steward of the City of Calgary’s Enough for All poverty reduction strategy. 

“Aspire really is the champion of the financial empowerment movement.”  

As Aspire, several partner organizations are working together to address the root causes of poverty while responding to the immediate needs of individuals living on a low income. This is done by designing and delivering financial empowerment programs, influencing policy change at multiple levels of government and scaling financial empowerment across broad systems. 

“Building financial empowerment into existing policies and programs – such as housing, employment, and social assistance – has what we call the ‘Super-Vitamin Effect,’” says Carlen Scheyk, Financial Empowerment Coordinator with Momentum. “Which refers to the fact that financial empowerment integration improves the social and financial impact of these programs.” 

It represents a vital opportunity to further help participants build their wellbeing and thrive.” 

Take Action: 

  • If you or someone you love needs help with their finances, please call 211 to be connected with resources.
  • Click here to subscribe to Aspire Calgary’s quarterly newsletter for current events and research on financial empowerment and the unveiling of its new website. 
  • Connect with Aspire Calgary on Twitter.