Systemic Change


In Systemic Change, people in poverty themselves engage in the identification of the root causes of their poverty and create strategies, including advocacy, to change those structures, which keep them in poverty.

To change structures and to resolve issues, individual or local, awareness of the system-wide influences and behaviors that are key to that structure or issue is necessary.

(Definition by Vincentian Family)

The first step in Systemic Change is individual empowerment: people in poverty take responsibility for their own future, while taking at least some preliminary steps towards economic self-sufficiency.

Then, they learn, through training, the skills needed for organizing themselves individually or collectively and take action.  Their Action might result in economic initiatives or advocacy, or both.

Vincentians can help by teaching people in poverty the skills of self-improvement, entrepreneurship and community organizing, while continuing to offer concrete assistance and moral support, as needed.

Why Systemic Change?

These are the benefits of systemic change for those we serve, for our mission, and for Vincentians. Systemic Change:

  1. Enhances the dignity of those we serve by including them in the identification of, and solution to the difficulties they face
  2. Empowers those we serve to achieve a better life
  3. Strengthens the bonds of friendship that are at the center of our Vincentian vocation and ministry
  4. Reinforces the importance of the home visit as the potential catalyst to begin the journey out of poverty
  5. Leads to stronger communities by providing opportunities to individuals to acquire their essential needs and eliminating barriers to a more fulfilling life
  6. Makes us more deeply aware of the various obstacles that prevent people from leading fulfilling lives
  7. Supports the Catholic social doctrine of solidarity, which emphasizes that we are all ultimately responsible for each other
  8. Eliminates the potential to inadvertently enable poverty by identifying the full range of resources people need to prosper, instead of focusing only on the immediate need
  9. Encourages the effective use of multiple resources and collaboration with other groups
  10. Provides us with a better understanding of the complexities of poverty and opens our minds to creative solutions to address those complexities
  11. Reinforces our commitment to servant leadership and develops each of us to be a servant leader