It was your local pride. And your desire to ignite change. Take a bow, because last year marked your biggest-ever uprising of care! Through your generous gifts and on-the-ground volunteer efforts—together with the work of our front-line agencies and partners—you tackled some of the most daunting social problems facing individuals, families and neighbourhoods across our region.
Here are all the ways that you made a difference. Proof that, when it comes to a stronger and more vibrant community, what you put in is what you get out.
Beginning on an upbeat: Our 2016 campaign kicked off at RBC’s WaterPark Place, amid drums and cheering. And it only got louder following the announcement of our goal for the community: $101.5 million. “We are really focused on trying to meet the growing needs within the community,” said Dave McKay, RBC’s President & CEO, and 2016 United Way Campaign Chair.
Watch the Campaign kickoff on Facebook
Here’s a Toronto Star op-ed on why readers should support the campaign
Growing up, Distant struggled with his identity. As an adult, he turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with his busy work life. Thanks to you, he made a life-changing connection—one that allowed him to make peace with himself.Watch the video
Ending with an uprising: Our goal was big, but your heart was bigger. Collectively, you raised $102 million last year—a record for United Way Toronto & York Region, and for United Ways across the globe. At our 2017 Celebration Gala, we raised a toast to you for making it all possible. Cheers!
That evening, partners from across Toronto and York Region—including notable companies, institutions and landmarks— were lit red to show their love for the community and this incredible uprising of care that swept the region.
Side B of the record: Following our record achievement, we announced a record investment in the community for 2017–18: $87 million for agencies, programs and services. That’s roughly $1 million more than what was invested last year. Translation? You’re changing the lives—the futures—of even more people! Of the $87 million invested…
went to building strong communities475
programs and services to support people—including seniors, newcomers, people with disabilities, and women who have been abused—in our community
went to helping kids be all they can be214
programs and services to help with the education, employment and engagement of our region’s young people
went to meeting people’s basic needs184
programs and services to help people connect with employment, shelter and food
Because of you, we made big progress on specific strategies that aim to effect positive change in people’s lives.
Targeted training: Because of you, 44 young people were able to enroll in our first Career Navigator™ program in York Region (with a graduation date set for July 2017), bringing the total to more than 630 youth assisted, this training—designed by our partners at NPower—equips graduates with skills that boost their chances at finding meaningful work in a growing sector.
youth enrolled in our netWORKS initiative (and 88% of youth who responded to our survey indicated improvement in their networking skills).
agencies received Youth Success Strategy development grants.
Too many young people are struggling to succeed. See how you’re giving them the opportunities and confidence that they need to thrive.Watch the video
Rapid response: Thanks to you, we were able to respond quickly to issues that emerged in our community. Last year, in addition to the prior $4-million investment in 40 agencies serving immigrants and refugees, we pledged $750,000 (over two years) to continue supporting Syrian refugees. Indeed, you’re helping us show these new Canadians the power of two words: Welcome. Home.
More complete coverage: Helping young people get access to higher education and job opportunities. Investing in Community Hub projects in the neighbourhoods of highest need. Establishing new partnerships with 62 anchor and partner agencies, as part of our new Community Services Sector strategy. Fuelled by your support, we changed the way we work to help us respond to growing need, from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe. Read more about these innovative efforts in the Toronto Star.
When it comes to our work, research is foundational. It’s about convening the right partners to understand the problem and how we can act strategically to create change that lasts. And it’s all thanks to your kind support. None of these breakthroughs would have been possible without you.
The numbers are in: Together with The Regional Municipality of York, we released Understanding the Numbers: Working Together to Prevent, Reduce and End Homelessness in York Region, results from York Region’s first-ever Point-in-Time Count. Just one of the initiatives that we’re driving as the federal government’s local partner on homelessness.
Maimoona has been on her own since she was 19. Read this courageous young woman’s story of overcoming homelessness—proof of how your support helped her find a new sense of belonging.Watch the video
It’s settled: Thanks to you— and a $2.5-million Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada—we are working alongside York University and other partners on a study (“Migration and Resilience in Urban Canada: Discovering Strengths and Building Capacity”) of how social institutions can improve outcomes for newcomers.
The price we all pay: From crime to healthcare to missed taxes, poverty costs billions. The Cost of Poverty in Toronto, a report that we funded, explores this paradox in a city where 265,000 families live on low incomes.
A growing need: The Toronto Enterprise Fund planted the seed, pioneering new ways of connecting people who are marginalized with life-changing social and economic opportunities. And, last year, the City of Toronto introduced a new social-procurement policy creating a market where these local social enterprises can really bloom.
Through your support of TEF,
connected to long-term employment.
Payday blues: Debt. Payday loan. More debt. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape. And it’s the reason we advocated for new provincial regulations that will better protect low-income families who rely on cheque-cashing outlets—which brings the potential for predatory lending practices. It’s the kind of improvement that we’ve long been behind through our work with the Government of Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy and our participation on both the Payday Lending Expert Advisory Panel and the Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness.
A force for affordable housing: We worked with partners at all levels to map out solutions to this growing issue:
With municipal leaders, we focused on addressing the needs of our city’s most vulnerable residents.
Through the National Housing Collaborative, we mobilized housing stakeholders and United Ways across the country to connect with community members, ensuring that their voices and ideas would shape Canada’s first-ever federal housing strategy.
In this video, Pedro Barata—Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Public Affairs—discusses how we’re helping to champion innovative solutions on your behalf.Watch the video
Themes from these consultations— shared publicly in the Globe and Mail formed an important part of the Collaborative’s submission.
A new route to employment: A partnership between United Way, local and provincial governments, Metrolinx, Crosslinx Transit Solutions, Toronto Community Benefits Network (a coalition of community, labour and social-enterprise organizations), and partner foundations, is linking local people facing barriers—including many youth—with jobs emerging from the Eglinton Crosstown project.
In addition to announcing new opportunities that target people facing barriers—including an aspirational target of 10% of this project’s job opportunities—the Ontario government seeks to roll out a community benefits framework across the province, with United Way Toronto & York Region providing critical expertise and guidance.
Great and getting better: 219 community agencies were supported by your gift in 2015–16. While enabling hundreds of vital programs and services, your gift also worked to increase the efficiency and capacity of these agencies—allowing them to do even more on the front lines. Here’s the difference you made, in terms of the organizational health of our agencies:
reported sustaining, expanding or developing new programs or enhancing access or eligibility to programs, so even more people can get the support they need
reported strengthening or expanding community consultation and engagement or collaboration with other community organizations, so they can do more and in a way that best responds to community needs
reported improving management’s capacity
Answering the call: The effectiveness of our region-wide agency network— and your support in connecting people to the closest, most appropriate care—was helped by 211, a phone and online service. Last year in our region, 211 answered the call 175,000 times, thanks to you.
A model for sharing: Through East Scarborough Storefront, a multi-service hub, some 35 service providers offered a free program or service (for up to 10 hours a week) in exchange for free use of the Storefront’s space. This dramatically increased the amount of supports for residents in the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park neighbourhood, while encouraging shared learning between agencies.
Last year, 700 generous organizations ran workplace campaigns in support of United Way. As these examples illustrate, big hearts really can initiate big change.
That’s using your head: At the RBC Hackathon for United Way, some 40 RBC employees put on their thinking caps. And they didn’t take them off for 48 hours, brainstorming ideas that would bring people together to help their community in new ways. The winning idea, the #ICanLiveWithout app, challenges users to turn a small lifestyle change into an investment in the community.
In 2015–16, RBC became our largest corporate supporter ever—raising a record $13.6 million in Toronto and York Region alone. Thank you, RBC!
A wider angle: KPMG joined us in co-hosting an event that broadened our perspective on job instability, asking: How can employers create a more positive environment for workers? To begin the discussion, MIT’s Zeynep Ton presented on her book The Good Jobs Strategy. Listen to a podcast featuring Ton, along with our own Michelynn Laflèche, Vice-President, Strategy, Research & Policy.
We’re helping to bring many local corporations and agencies together to work for sustainable change in our community. Here are two wonderful examples.
A blueprint for success: D+H’s “Building a Neighbourhood Partnership Blueprint” project, in collaboration with Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, acknowledged that there is no cookie-cutter approach to solving problems facing our communities. Its aim was to create a model for working together—one that could be replicated and built upon throughout the region.
Sustainable leadership: TD’s “Give2Grow Executive Leadership Program” let United Way and local agencies benefit from the expertise and insights of talented TD staff. Each team spent 40 hours, over four months, to explore and design a strategic action plan that will help the specific organization build a more sustainable future. A full-scale fundraising plan for Yorktown Family Services? Just one example of how this program is helping our community thrive.
Our work is powered by many things. Generosity. Hard work. And brainpower—lots and lots of it. Last year, we partnered with respected experts, whose insight turbocharged our mission to change lives across our region. Here are some of the questions we explored together.
What is “hidden homelessness”? Stephen Gaetz of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness discusses what homelessness looks like when you leave downtown.
What is social procurement? Denise Andrea Campbell, the City of Toronto’s Director of Social Policy, Analysis and Research, explains how this new way of doing business can transform the lives of people facing barriers to employment.
Can we end poverty? Daniyal Zuberi, the RBC Chair and Associate Professor of Social Policy at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto, provides a big-picture lens on poverty across North America.
We put every penny of every donation to work, leveraging— and amplifying—your support in every way possible. That’s why the large-scale investments like these have our ears ringing.
Magna-nimous: Magna International made history as the donor of the largest-ever gift to United Way from a York Region corporation: $5 million to support a vital network of agencies in the growing region.
Paying it forward: Philanthropists Don Johnson and Anna McCowan-Johnson contributed $1 million to helping youth succeed, while the Government of Ontario committed $1.3 million over three years.
Gifts that gave twice: The Mike & Martha Pedersen Challenge Grant doubled the power of donations by matching all first-time Leadership gifts ($1,200+) and donation increases, to a combined total of $1 million.
More than 20,000 of you gave your time and talent to make 2016 our community’s greatest year yet. Here are a few tallies of how you did it:
67 volunteers made 7,284 calls, thanking donors for their gifts
70 volunteers contributed 1,700+ hours to review grants, supporting our investment of $87 million into the community
203 volunteers, as part of United Way Speakers Bureau, shared their life-changing stories at 1,035 United Way events—reaching over 60,000 members of the community
250+ volunteers contributed 1,250+ hours to our CN Tower Climb, supporting 4,914 participants in raising more than $1.3 million
271 agency tours were hosted, giving workplaces a deeper understanding of United Way’s work in the community
895 Day of Caring events were organized and executed by agencies and workplaces across the region
14,115 plays happened on makethemonth.ca, showing your desire to better understand what it’s like to experience local poverty
Forget volunteer hours. Frances Woodroffe can count the volunteer decades. It’s been 38 years, and she’s not stopping there.Read her story
When your support helps us uncover new ways of working or find new approaches to old problems, news often travels beyond our region alone. Here’s how you provided a foundation for other United Ways to build on.
Two become one: Drawing on the learnings and success of last year’s historic merger between United Way Toronto and United Way York Region, we mentored other United Ways as they, too, joined forces: London with St. Thomas, and Cambridge & North Dumfries with Kitchener Waterloo & Area. We’re sure that these unions will reap the same rich rewards that we have— stronger local communities and even more lives changed.
Repetition is key: Like London and Peterborough before it, United Way Niagara and partners are now using our research on precarious employment (in Toronto and in York) as a framework for study within their own region. Our own Michelynn Laflèche—Vice President, Strategy, Research & Policy—and Stephanie Procyk—Manager of Public Policy, Evaluation and Research—were delighted to offer learnings and support at their launch in March. Read this article for more.
Join the hub: Thanks to you, we have no shortage of Community Hub success stories. And Lorraine Duff, our Director of Programs, was happy to share them when United Way Windsor joined forces with a local hospital to create a Community Hub in an underserved area of their city.
Your support through 2016 made our
special events extra-special.
Over the course of just four days—at February’s Rouge: A benefit for United Way, at June’s Scotiabank Rat Race for United Way and at October’s CN Tower Climb for United Way—
your efforts raised nearly
In April 2017, we said a very special thanks to our generous Leadership donors (those who gave $1,200 or more) at Songs of the City.
This exclusive evening featured top Canadian performers—including Amanda Martinez, John McDermott and Murray McLauchlan— who performed songs based on the stories of everyday people whose lives have changed because of you.
Coming together to ignite change in thousands of local lives? Based on these proof-points, that’s an understatement. Yours was the biggest community uprising of care—anywhere.
So, take another bow. Because the thanks are all ours. Encore! Encore! Encore?
We work to ensure that your generous gift serves the highest purpose: creating belonging for everyone in our region, today and into the future.
In 2016, our total disbursements to the community were as follows:
We value the trust you place in us. As a flagship member of Imagine Canada’s Standards Program, we are safeguarding donor rights by demonstrating excellence in sector best practices.
At United Way Toronto & York Region, we are always looking to improve the way we work. Anything to create more and more positive change in the communities we serve. Well, 2016 was no different. Read more.
We deliver financial statements that are consistent with Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations and United Way Canada/Centraide Canada’s Transparency and Accountability Financial Standards.