This story is part of an ongoing series on community foundations working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For more information about the SDGs, view our SDG Guidebook and Toolkit.
This year brings many milestones for the Prince George Community Foundation (PGCF), a staple in the community since it was first founded in 1995. To commemorate 25 years of service, the foundation will be sharing their recently published Vital Signs report. The first-ever edition of this report provides an up-to-date, local snapshot of the current community knowledge and vitality in the Prince George region in British Columbia. This information will be crucial for identifying where to provide appropriate help and resources to those disproportionately affected by the global pandemic.
In addition, this year also marks the first time the Vital Signs report is connected to both the local and global through the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The incorporation of the UN SDGs in Vital Signs allowed PGCF to track a pay gap that disproportionately impacts Indigenous women, and to get on-track to evolve a giving approach and help direct funding to those who need it most.
“The report really shines the light on our community and the needs in our community,” says Mindy Stroet, Executive Director, PGCF. “It shows the areas that we’re doing well, [and the] areas that we can improve on. We feel the report is not just a piece of paper. This is something that can actually be used to help make [a] positive change in our community.”
To make sure this report reflected the community’s reality, PGCF had a lot of work to do.
Making and mobilizing Vital Signs
Released in October 2019, the PGCF Vital Signs report was created in collaboration with the Community Development Institute at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). The report provides an up-to-date picture of life in Prince George by combining important data from local sources, Community Foundations Canada, and Statistics Canada’s Census program database.
Today, PGCF is working to generate awareness and uptake of the report among local organizations in the hope they will leverage Vital Signs data to generate impact and strengthen their interactions with funders, government, and change-makers. For board members and staff, Vital Signs has created an opportunity to effectively identify the greatest areas of need in the community and respond with targeted decision-making and funding.
But how does this fit into a global context?
Working towards SDG 5: Local and global gender equality
The PGCF Vital Signs report focuses on 10 local indicators, each linked to the SDGs, including gender equality (SDG 5). In evaluating the local landscape, data revealed the impact of an intersection of SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality), for women in Prince George. While the number of local women in managerial roles had increased, data also revealed a gender pay gap 10 percent lower than the national average – a gender pay gap that disproportionately impacts Indigenous women.
Prince George is home to an Indigenous population more than twice the national average, and a higher-than-average number of single-parent households, primarily headed by Indigenous women. Vital Signs validated what many community-based organizations already understood; combined, these factors disrupt women’s ability to connect to the workforce in a meaningful way.
Being able to measure and track this impact is key to developing solutions for helping the communities who need it most.
“Looking at equality and Sustainable Development Goal 5, it drives us to look for ways that we can support the ongoing needs of women in our community,” Project Lead Catherine Pennington says. “Now, we can direct financial resources, granting endowments to the organizations that need help the most to serve this population.”
Finding new ways to help
In the past, PGCF would usually lend a helping hand to organizations that came forward with a need or funding application. Now, the community foundation is working to evolve its approach to respond to the needs of organizations serving women and other populations within their community, and ensuring their granting cycles and donor dollars target emerging needs first.
“The Vital Signs report is such a great tool,” says Stroet. “Not only can the Prince George Community Foundation use it, but so can our education institutes, our women’s resource centres, our hospitals, our non-profits, and charities.”
“Our Vital Signs report provides a heartbeat checkup. It tells us what the needs of the community are today,” says Pennington. “Working with the many partners we’ve built after a 25-year history, we’re continuing to tell the story of Vital Signs throughout the calendar year and beyond and [are] using it as part of the alignment of our grants.”
Even in these early stages, the PGCF Vital Signs report has already begun to strengthen partnerships and generate new conversations. Situating it within the global context of the UN SDGs and Community Foundations of Canada’s mission (‘relentlessly pursuing a future where everyone belongs’) helped PGCF showcase how their important work makes an impact on the broader global continuum.
“Vital Signs links us to each other across the country, but more importantly, it links us nationally and gets us thinking about how we can make a difference at home and globally through our actions,” adds Pennington.