Working Toward the Common Good

A grant from ECF helps the Greater Edmonton Alliance continue working toward creating a living wage for Edmontonians

What does it mean to live by the common good? For some, it means treating others with kindness and respect. For others, it means charitable acts of service. If you ask Rev. Philip Penrod, Secretary of the Board for the Greater Edmonton Alliance (GEA), he’ll tell you living by the common good means all that and a whole lot more.

In affiliation with the Industrial Areas Foundation of Canada (IAFC), GEA believes in organizing the power of people to create a better city for all, and ensuring everyone is making a living wage.

“The fundamental belief in that is that our whole city will be stronger if we have more, and stronger, institutions in the kind of civil sector, and civil society,” says Penrod. “So, we’re really fundamentally working with our member institutions to build internal capacity. To train up leadership within those organizations.”

*NOTE: Photo taken pre-pandemic.

Penrod explains that an “iron rule” within the organization is to build individual self-empowerment, as opposed to reliance.

“We’re about helping people to become the most powerful people they can be. [We] never to do something for someone that they’re capable of doing for themselves,” he says.

Threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, GEA knew they would no longer be able to help empower the community if they were no longer operational. Thankfully,  Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) was there to help.

ECF’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund provided $25,000 to IAFC. From there, IAFC was able to distribute funds to their affiliate, GEA, where they could work toward staying afloat as an organization and help create quality jobs and a living wage for the community.

“Employment sectors have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Nneka Otogbolu, ECF’s Director of Communications and Equity Strategy, says. “This grant was a way we could help people find and keep jobs with a living wage.”

*NOTE: Photo taken pre-pandemic.

GEA’s Living Incomes Action Team focuses on increasing access to job training, growing the number of living-wage jobs and expanding supports for those unable to work. Penrod says that through virtual conversations, GEA is working toward creating a community of businesses committed to a living wage.

He adds that during the pandemic, this movement became all the more critical.

“There is some thinking that says, like, ‘look, we’re just happy to have a job. Now, never mind a living wage regulate,’” he explains. “What we need to do is just hold each other to a better standard … to say, ‘the values that we hold for the way I want my kids and my spouse, and my family, and my church and my community league to be treated, I actually want that for all Edmontonians. And so we’re going to advocate for policies that are demonstrably good for everyone.’ And a living wage is that.”

GEA hopes to create a “win-win” situation for Edmontonians by working toward the greater good and creating change for the better.

Learn more about ECF’s COVID-19 response.