Programs and partnerships
Download United Way Toronto's Community Partnerships & Relationships Framework (pdf - 2MB)
Bringing people together from all walks of life to build a better city
We know that today’s problems are complex—and that it takes the whole community working together to change social conditions. No one organization, no one level of government, can solve systemic problems. But by working in partnership with others and by mobilizing people and resources, we can address the root causes of our city’s shared challenges. We’re working with our frontline agencies, community partners, the private sector and all levels of government to change the conditions of not just individuals but whole neighbourhoods—and that makes a positive impact on our city as a whole. United Way Toronto has developed a partnership approach that aims to address the root causes of social problems through a system approach that works to change not only individuals, but whole communities. Our work is based on a simple but profound belief—that what unites us is ultimately far more powerful than what divides us.
Helping people move from poverty to possibility
- ACCES Employment helps new Canadians find work and settle into their new life in Toronto. They provide employment services like resume writing and help connect qualified newcomers to employers in their field. One of ACCES’ most notable initiatives is the Speed Mentoring program. This innovative form of networking gives new Canadians the opportunity to meet and network with professionals who provide them with sector and occupation-specific information and advice. Mentors and mentees make valuable connections and many mentees go on to secure employment.
- St. Stephen’s Community House is a multi-service agency that serves over 32,000 clients each year. Located in downtown Toronto, it helps some of our city’s most vulnerable people from at-risk youth, to newcomers to Canada and homeless men and women. St. Stephen’s is there when people need help the most. One example of this is its Corner Place Drop-In for people who are homeless or under-housed. The Drop-In provides much needed services, crisis intervention and addiction counselling. The program not only meets urgent needs but also enables staff to build relationships with clients and provide important services like case management and social re-engagement.
Building healthy people and strong communities
- Working Women Community Centre empowers immigrant and refugee women to improve their quality of life and that of their families through self development and community engagement. They offer a number of services like settlement, support and employment counselling—offsetting social isolation and strengthening their clients’ abilities and confidence to integrate successfully into the community and workforce. Not only does the agency support women, it also supports the larger community of Victoria Village, a priority neighbourhood. It’s the lead agency for Victoria Village’s Action for Neighbourhood Change initiative and The Hub @ Victoria Park and Eglinton—a space that brings residents together and helps connect them to vital programs and services all under one roof.
- Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO) is a hub of activity in the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood. Responding to the needs of newcomers, this multi-service agency provides much needed settlement and translation services, as well as job search and training for newcomers and refugees. TNO also delivers a family violence program, women’s counselling, language classes, an Ontario Early Years Centre for the Don Valley West area, youth services and community information workshops and seminars. One of TNO’s most successful endeavors is its partnership with Davis + Henderson, a financial services provider in the local neighbourhood. Brought together through United Way’s Community Connections program, TNO and Davis + Henderson are working together to increase employment in this high unemployment area by providing employment training, job fairs and giving guidance to local small business managers. Davis + Henderson also goes one step further in supporting the impact work of TNO through mentorship and management training.
Helping kids be all they can be
- The Youth Challenge Fund (YCF) is a partnership between the Government of Ontario and United Way. YCF has brought together government and privately raised funds to support a total of 111 youth-led initiatives in the 13 priority neighbourhoods. These initiatives have provided opportunities for over 12,000 racialized youth living in these communities to build leadership skills, connect with experienced mentors, partner with community organizations and public institutions, and most importantly, lead positive change in their neighbourhoods. YCF’s unique approach challenges the entire community to work collaboratively—as youth leaders, adult allies and public institutions—to mentor and make space for each other, build capacity and gain the skills they need to lead systemic transformation in their community. The Government of Ontario launched YCF with an initial $15-million investment in 2006. By 2009, United Way had successfully raised another $15.8-million through private sector and individual donations—money which the Province then matched, bringing the total YCF investment to $46.6-million.
- Pathways to Education is an innovative and successful stay-in-school initiative that works to reduce high school dropout rates, increase access to post-secondary education, improve academic performance, and reduce school suspensions. With United Way Toronto’s investment of $10-million over four years, Pathways has expanded from its original site in Regent Park to three priority neighbourhoods—Lawrence Heights, Rexdale and Scarborough Village. The results speak for themselves: these communities have succeeded in reducing the number of students at risk of not graduating by up to 52 percent, and have reduced absenteeism by up to 43 percent in just one year. When the program first began in Regent Park eight years ago, the dropout rate was 56 percent. Today it’s less than 10 percent among youth who participate in the program. Of those who graduated from Pathways in Regent Park, 80 percent have gone on to post-secondary education—and 90 percent of these students are the first in their families to do so.
- Focus on Youth is a joint initiative of the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board, designed to keep Toronto’s youth engaged and productive during the summer holidays. With funding from United Way Toronto and the Ontario Ministry of Education, the program opens schools as community space and offers thousands of children and youth access to recreational, learning, leadership and employment opportunities in underserved neighbourhoods across Toronto.