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The McMaster Community Poverty Initiative (MCPI) was formed in 2007 by concerned faculty, staff, and students who were interested in expanding McMaster's role in addressing local conditions of poverty.

The MCPI has membership from faculties across campus, and works to enhance relationships between McMaster and Hamilton, with a focus on poverty reduction.

Our members work with such local committees as HOPE (Hamilton Organizing for Poverty Elimination), the Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, and Living Wage Hamilton.

Funding for the McMaster Community Poverty Initiative comes from the Office of the Vice-President - Research and the Provost.

The MCPI was awarded the 2013 McMaster Synergy Award recognizing excellence in building cross-faculty partnerships.

What We Do

The three elements of our work and priorities will be developed with the guidance of community collaborators.


      • Will be undertaken in collaboration between the university and communities, building upon existing strengths, skills and resources:
          • the knowledge, priorities, strategies of communities and individuals.
          • the formal substantive and methodological knowledge of faculty and students drawn from a wide array of disciplines.


      • Students will be involved in educationally-driven service learning, student research projects and volunteer work.
      • Activities will build on existing strengths, skills and resources in the university and the community.


      • Knowledge will be produced for ‘use’ in pursuit of social change.
      • Activities will draw on existing skills in action/community-based participatory research, in knowledge transfer/exchange, and in social justice work and activism.
      • On campus, the contributions and interest of all constituencies (students, staff and faculty) will be explored and engaged.


Stephanie Baker Collins, School of Social Work

Stephanie is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. She teaches in the areas of social policy, poverty and homelessness, critical evaluation and research methods. Her practice background includes more than a decade of experience in social policy research, analysis, and advocacy at both the community and the national level. Her research focuses on the impact of public policy on the lives of marginalized groups, with a particular focus on the systems that are in place to address poverty and homelessness. Her current projects include an exploration of Ontario Works from the perspective of case managers and SSHRC Partnership Development Grant exploring the intersection of disability and homelessness among youth.


Past Co-Chairs

Jane Aronson

Professor | Director of School of Social Work



Steering Committee

Steering Committee

  • Dr. Don Wells, School of Labour Studies
  • Sheila Sammon, School of Social Work, McMaster Community Engagement Network
  • Carol Wood, Ecumenical Chaplain
  • Dr. Stephanie Baker-Collins, School of Social Work
  • Cecilia Irazuzta, OPIRG McMaster,
  • Kojo Damptey, OPIRG McMaster,
  • Sean Beaudette, Manager Student Leadership and Learning, Residence Life Office
  • Jeremy Sandor, Student Success Centre,
  • Jeff Druery, Student Open Circles,
  • Janet Hélène Zanin, Masters Candidate, Global Health Program
  • Becky Idems, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work
  • David Cheng, MAC Bread Bin
  • Jane Aronson, School of Social Work