2019-2020 Annual Report

Building on Networks

As part of the national Built for Zero campaign, United Way is committed to ending chronic homelessness.

Together with government, supporting the vital work of community agencies

The divide between rich and poor has grown dramatically across our region, with middle-income neighbourhoods vanishing, high-income neighbourhoods getting richer and more neighbourhoods low-income. The impact of being poor and living in a low-income neighbourhood is compounded by a lack of amenities, supports and services that makes it difficult for residents to get ahead and break the cycle of poverty. Taking our resident engagement work to the next level, 11 agencies in Toronto are throwing their skills and expertise behind 12 projects that tackle neighbourhood-specific issues related to local economic opportunity, community infrastructure and social well-being in the inner suburbs. Regional in scope, this work enables the realization of local residents’ visions for their communities—and is already underway with Neighbourhood Development Grants on the ground in Georgina and south Markham, and set to begin in Brampton.


Cross-funder Collaboration Project
With growing recognition that certain individuals and communities are more likely to experience barriers based on aspects of their social identity beyond their control, the call for disaggregated equity data has grown louder. Comprehensive data is paramount to better understanding those barriers and addressing them through policies that achieve better outcomes for equity-seeking groups. Now, through a collaborative new project, United Way, the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network and the City of Toronto are looking at how to streamline such data collection and reporting. And looking to our network of agencies as crucial partners in the pilot phase, to test-drive data collection strategy, analysis and resources right where they are, deeply embedded in community. Information is power—and can propel real change.

Pathways to Youth Employment
We know from our Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) research that the changing nature of work in Canada is leaving many behind, with racialized groups, immigrants, women and youth facing the most significant barriers. Through 32 grants and programs, including signature initiatives like netWORKS and Career Navigator, United Way continues to create opportunities, exploring new sectors and partnerships to help youth facing multiple barriers reach their full potential. Two new pathways:

  • Production Assistant Training Program: Partnering with the United Way-funded CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals and the City of Toronto on its Poverty Reduction Strategy to train and prepare Black youth to enter the flourishing film production industry.
  • Project Search: Working with the Toronto District School Board, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, UHN Toronto Rehab, the Ontario Disability Employment Network and Community Living Toronto to ensure young people with intellectual disabilities are equipped and supported for meaningful work opportunities.

Reaching Home in York Region
United Way leads the federal Reaching Home initiative in York Region, working with The Regional Municipality of York and York Region Homelessness Community Advisory Board to improve coordination of services for people experiencing homelessness. As part of the national Built for Zero campaign, we’re committed to ending chronic homelessness and engaging in community consultation and the collection of rich data to identify gaps and inform policy.


Research and real-world examples show that the most effective way to fight local poverty is to have a strong, coordinated network of agencies working together. That means shared ideas, resources and successful strategies, as well as collaboration and innovation from planning to implementation—all in service to community.


280 agencies

640 programs

2.9 million services