Helping newcomers fulfill their potential

Friends Catering: Work and life lessons in the kitchen

Friends Catering: Work and life lessons in the kitchen

Supported by United Way’s Toronto Enterprise Fund, Friends is helping individuals who are living under the poverty line and facing challenges entering the job market access new work opportunities.

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Helping newcomers become established and engaged members of our community

Often newcomers are struggling to find work and to fulfill their promise in a new country. They find themselves living in neighborhoods that lack even basic services for families. Our goal is to help newcomers fulfill their promise and potential in Toronto—finding opportunity, a supportive community and the ability to contribute to the social and economic life of our city. United Way Toronto helps newcomers fulfill their potential and promise by providing stable core funding to social service agencies via the Community Fund, but we can’t do it alone. By working with our frontline agencies, community partners, the private sector and all levels of government, we’re providing newcomers with the supports they need now and well into the future to ensure they will settle successfully in Canada, becoming strong, engaged members of their communities.

Creating opportunities for a better life for everyone

Through United Way’s Community Fund, which supports a network of over 200 health and social service agencies in Toronto, support for newcomer-focused agencies and programs serving immigrants means providing both immediate resources and long-term programs to newcomers looking to settle successfully in their new communities. A great example of one United Way Toronto membership agency making a difference is Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services. This agency is responding directly to the immediate needs of immigrant and refugee communities in Toronto, while also providing strategies that are working to creating lasting change—making sure newcomers are successful today and well into the future. United Way Toronto’s funding also provides Peer Outreach workers for this agency, who support newcomer settlement and integration programs.

Offering the knowledge and skills necessary for future success, another initiative providing support for newcomers is Launching Into Future Training, or LIFT. This program that is run out of the Centre for Information and Community Services of Ontario, is helping Chinese-speaking immigrant youth, ages 16 to 24, integrate more successfully into our communities. The program holds training workshops at local high schools, including pre-employment readiness courses and workshops on job searching and interview techniques, giving young newcomers the tools they need to find meaningful employment and reach their full potential.

Plus, we’re working in partnership to fulfill the promise and potential of newcomers. To better serve the needs of Toronto’s newcomer communities and to ensure that we are taking a systemic approach to changing whole communities, United Way Toronto works in partnership with a number of organizations that serve the needs of immigrants, including the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), the Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS), COSTI Immigrant Services, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).

A history of addressing specific settlement issues

In order to respond to service gaps, improve newcomers’ access to culturally appropriate community services, and address growing demand for services supporting newcomers, United Way Toronto established the Newcomer Grants program. From 1999 to 2005, United Way Toronto provided approximately $300,000 annually to agencies serving newcomers, resulting in an allocation of $2.1-million for 114 grants to member and non-member agencies in Toronto. This is in addition to the $7.4-million in annual funding allocated to newcomer-serving membership agencies through the Volunteer Review Process. The program was reviewed and revised in 2005, offering project funding, for up to two years, to community agencies in order to address specific settlement issues faced by immigrants and refugees. The grants aimed to:

  • Support newcomers and refugees to achieve their full potential through funding innovative service delivery models
  • Reach isolated and underserved immigrants and refugees
  • Improve access to culturally and linguistically appropriate services
  • Improve the coordination of programs and services among agencies serving newcomers and refugees

Newcomer Grants were time-limited, non-renewable project grants, which were no longer made available after 2009.

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