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.


A year into serving as United Way’s President & CEO, 
and so many stories of community belonging and lives changed. Thanks to you.

This one’s particularly fitting, as we present our 2016–17 Impact Report. Read More

After speaking at a campaign kick-off event, a donor asked me “What exactly does an uprising of care look like?”

I smiled.

It’s 500 people cheering at our campaign kick-off, 
because they believe that for a community to be great, 
it must be great for all.

It’s 62 anchor and partner agencies huddled in a room, because they want to find new approaches to tackling 
local poverty together.

It’s 100 volunteers walking York Region streets for the 
first Point-in-Time Count, because increasing our 
collective understanding of homelessness will help us fight 
its root causes.

It’s 70 millennials developing a neighbourhood-partnership blueprint, because they want to roll up their sleeves to effect local change.

It’s 44 youth enrolling in the first IT Career Navigator program in York Region, because they’re determined to 
beat the odds and build a future.

It’s hundreds of labour, agency, Metrolinx, municipal and provincial leaders partnering, because they know that 
the whole community benefits when local residents have 
local jobs.

It’s 1,700 United Way supporters braving icy conditions 
to celebrate our record $102-million achievement, because they want to belong to something big and meaningful.

And that only scratches the surface.

She paused, “How do I get involved?”

“You already are,” I respond.

Just like the thousands of you, who came together in 
2016 with your generous gifts, by volunteering your 
time and expertise, or by working on the front lines.

While your ways of contributing may have differed, 
the impact is consistent: hundreds of thousands of 
lives changed.

That’s what an uprising of care looks like. I invite you 
to read on to see how you helped to make it happen.

Daniele Zanotti

President & CEO

President & CEO Transition

You say goodbye, I say hello: A bittersweet goodbye turned into a cheery hello when our long-time leader Susan McIsaac passed the torch to new President & CEO Daniele Zanotti—“the ideal person to lead this organization going forward,” said Vince Timpano, Chair of United Way’s Board of Trustees.


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!

During the gala, #UWBelong had people and organizations—from Mayor John Tory to Chairman Wayne Emmerson, from BMO to Manulife—chirping about this 
historic achievement. The hashtag trended across Canada for hours, spreading our excitement 
even further.

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 communities


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 be


programs and services to help with the education, employment and engagement of our region’s young people


went to meeting 
people’s basic needs


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.

Kerryn & Clarke

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,
320 people
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 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, showing 
your desire to better understand what it’s like to experience 
local poverty

The legend continues

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
$1.5 million!

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?


Every year is different. But, some things never change: from our board of directors to our senior executive team to members of our staff, we remain fully accountable to you.


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.

Read highlights from our Finance, Audit and Risk Committee and our full 2016–17 Audited Financial Statements.