Anti-Poverty Community Organizing & Learning Project (2009-2014)

The Anti-Poverty Community Organizing & Learning (APCOL) project was a community-university action research project focused on how people learn to engage, re-engage, and remain disengaged in various forms of anti-poverty activism. The project was housed in the Centre for the Study of Education and Work.

The APCOL project produced a series of publications, including 12 working papers written by academic and community-based researchers. These papers connected with the various themes examined in the APCOL project.

Research Activities

Contexts Explored for Learning:

  • Anti-poverty initiatives, campaigns, and programming.
  • Everyday neighbourhood life and biography.

Action Research Activities of the Project:

  • Grassroots organizing.
  • Case studies in eight Toronto neighbourhoods matched with a community/university researcher.
  • Co-design and co-administration of a city-wide anti-poverty activism survey.

Project Overview

Active from 2009-2014, APCOL was co-led by Sharon Simpson (Labour Community Services, Toronto) and Peter Sawchuk (University of Toronto).

APCOL was funded by the Canadian government’s SSHRC (Social Science and Humanities Research Council’s) Community University Research Alliance program.


The goals of the APCOL project were to:

  • Contribute to local neighbourhood capacity to engage in anti-poverty work as they define it,
  • Contribute to effective cross-linkage of community anti-poverty initiatives across the Greater Toronto Area,
  • Build understanding of the role of community-led organizing in the broader processes of positive social, political and economic change,
  • and, Expand the base of research knowledge on the role of informal learning and popular education in anti-poverty work and social movement development.


Partners in the research initiatives included:

  • Community organizations and resident groups from eight of the 13 Toronto neighbourhoods designated as high priority in terms of poverty challenges in the City of Toronto.
  • Student researchers and professors from four of Toronto’s higher education institutions, including University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University and, George Brown College.

Project Resources

Additional Notes