Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an unprecedented partnership of legal and community organizations. Its aim is to improve the capacity of frontline workers in community organizations to provide basic legal information and referrals to their clients.

Training frontline workers at community organizations is an important part of the Connecting Communities program. They are trusted intermediaries who often have contact at an early stage with vulnerable people who need legal information. Early intervention can prevent problems from escalating and improve the chances of successfully resolving a legal issue.

Connecting Communities projects include training for:

  • Rural organizations about consumer rights
  • Community organizations about employment law
  • Northern organizations who serve Aboriginal youth about youth criminal justice and education law
  • Immigrant settlement workers about tenants’ rights
  • Agencies serving Chinese-speaking clients about employment and immigration law
  • Organizations and community leaders who work with transgender parents about family law
  • Teachers of English as a Second Language about immigration law and human rights

Connecting Communities also has created a Public Legal Education Learning Exchange. This network provides online resources and an annual forum for people interested in learning more about community legal education.

Innovative structure

Instead of creating a new organization, The Law Foundation of Ontario supported the development of a network of existing organizations to lead Connecting Communities. This network includes:

  • An Advisory Committee of community legal education service providers to review and support projects
  • A Public Education Network to provide online resources and an annual forum
  • A Secretariat, housed at Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), to coordinate the Connecting Communities program, conduct community outreach, and help to link project partners
  • Partnerships of three of more legal and community organizations for each project

The innovative structure avoids duplication, builds on the strength of existing organizations, adds expertise in the development and review of projects, and shares lessons learned.

Watch the video to learn more about Connecting Communities and visit the Connecting Communities webpage on CLEO’s website to keep up-to-date on the latest activities.