The Community Impact Strategy

United Way Trinidad and Tobago (UWTT) initiated the design of the Community Impact (CI) Strategy in 2013, with seed funding from the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust I. The initiative was created out of the growing awareness that in order to further develop Giving in Trinidad and Tobago, we needed to demonstrate real and sustainable change for the money being spent. This would require a more focused and cohesive approach to address growing social needs by building on our model of collective working with our Funding and Implementing NGO partners. The key shift for UWTT in the Community Impact Strategy is to target communities and tailor evidence-based interventions to address their priority needs.

The overall approach for the UWTT Community Impact Model is based on principles of collective working and impact. The overall approach is to develop a Community Impact Model, integrate learning into the work of UWTT and share our lessons learnt with other organisations – so that it can continue to be iterated and hopefully over time taken to scale throughout the country.

Our initial research highlighted that interventions must start early in a child’s life, the critical role education can play in breaking the cycle of poverty and how important family and community life is to sustaining success. After a year of research and another year of community conversations – in May 2015, we launched our inaugural CI Project in Fifth Company Village, Moruga (FC-CIP).

About Fifth Company, Moruga

Fifth Company Village was selected as the pilot Community as it is one of the poorest communities in Trinidad and Tobago[1], with about 44% of the population having primary school as their highest level of education. The community has a population of 1,454 with 390 households, and 382 children below the age of 15[2]. There are four schools in the immediate area, one pre-school, two primary and one secondary schools. Despite the presence of a secondary school in the area, mostly all of the children attend secondary school outside Fifth Company.

Fifth Company, located in the Princess Town Regional Corporation, was settled in 1816 by the fifth of six companies of Afro-American soldiers. The original Merikens were emancipated slaves who had fought for the British during the American war of 1812, and were relocated to Trinidad when the British lost the war. August 2016 marks the 200th Anniversary of their arrival to Trinidad.

Community conversations conducted in early 2014 with residents and stakeholders in Fifth Company revealed that they had high aspirations for their community. These aspirations include:

  • Educated youths
  • Literate parents and children
  • Parents who recognise that education is the way out of poverty
  • Sporting and recreational activities and spaces for children and youth. Vocational and skills building programmes on a consistent basis
  • Residents fully employed and able to adequately take care of themselves and their families
[1] The 6 criteria used to identify and assess potential communities are low socioeconomic conditions; not a high crime community; normal Community Representation; legitimate and active Community Group; at least 1 Primary and/or Secondary School; and a neutral public meeting place within the community.
[2] National Census 2011

Objectives of the Fifth Company Community Impact Project (FC-CIP)

The Vision or long term Goal of the Fifth Company Community Impact (CI) Project is to decrease school drop outs in Fifth Company.  The Project Purpose is to ensure children are ready for school and student success in primary schools in Fifth Company.  It is envisioned by achieving these objectives that the number of children from Fifth Company attending and graduating from secondary school will increase over time, thereby improving their capacity for better parenting, to secure better incomes and over time break the cycle of poverty in Fifth Company.

Project Objectives
The key objectives or outputs of the Project include:

  1. A structured parenting programme implemented, to encourage parenting practices which are supportive of childhood attendance and active participation at school
  2. Early literacy promoted through providing leadership and literacy training to the principals, infancy year teachers and parents of the pre-school and the primary schools and improving access to reading resources
  3. Out of school programmes supported aimed at the development of holistic child development
  4. Capacity to identify special and diverse learning needs increased by training teachers, parents and parenting agents
  5. Fifth Company Village Council and local CBOs capacity strengthened to ensure they are involved in all aspects of project implementation and improve sustainability of project outcomes

The Implementing Partners by Component are summarised in table 1.

Table 1: List of Implementing NGOs and Local CBGs by Component

Project Component Implementing NGO Local CBOs/CBGs
1 Parenting Toco Foundation with Parenting TT, CPNE, TTIP, Red Cross Local CBG
2 Early Literacy UNESCO, UWTT PTAs
3 Out of School Music Literacy Trust, UWTT Local CBGs, PTAs
4 Learning Styles Training CKFTO PTAs
5 Capacity Building Village Council and local CBOs Veni Apwann, UWTT Village Council, PTAs

 

Figure 1 Collective Working Model of Fifth Company CI Project

Accomplishments To Date

The Community Impact project is based on the tri-partite model of the family (parents), school (teachers) and community working collectively on a common agenda of Childhood Success – and the direct beneficiaries are the children as students of the school community.

Figure 2: Childhood Success in Primary Schools Programme

The decision was taken to extend the duration of the project to 5-6 years and implement in Phases in order to maintain flexibility in implementation. We moved seamlessly into Phase 2 in 2018, with an increased focus on working with St Gregory’s Anglican School officially known as Fifth Company Anglican Primary School in order to reach the most vulnerable families of the Fifth Company Community.

Our review of this CI project in Fifth Company Village, Moruga highlighted the critical need for a multi-year commitment to the community in order to build sustainable change.

The activities and accomplishments for 2015 to 2017 can be found below:

Community Impact Year in Review 2017

Community Impact Year in Review 2016

Community Impact Year in Review 2015

 

United Way Trinidad and Tobago is currently looking for partners interested in collaborating on this initiative. You may contact us via email at unitedway@uwtt.com