Toronto Star

United Way commits $87 million

Charitable organizati­on will make it easier for smaller groups to access funding


The United Way, already one of Canada’s largest charitable organizati­ons, is opening its arms even wider.

The group’s Toronto and York Region chapter has announced an investment of $87 million for local charities and community services for 2017-18.

It’s the largest such allocation of funds that United Way Toronto and York Region has ever made, topping last year’s commitment by $1 million.

“We’re excited to serve the current needs of our region and its growing and diversifyi­ng needs,” said Daniele Zanotti, president and CEO of United Way Toronto and York Region.

With the bulk of its contributi­on — more than $62 million — the United Way will bolster its ongoing support of about 220 local agencies, including the March of Dimes, YMCA of Greater Toronto, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and a wide array of housing services and shelters.

At least $3.4 million will go to the United Way’s Building Strong Neighbourh­oods Strategy, which includes vital Community Hub projects in some of Toronto’s neediest areas. The hubs are spaces where residents can access social services, participat­e in health or nutrition programs, and gather together for celebratio­ns or community meetings.

Over the past decade, more than a million people have accessed services through these hubs.

“This funding is going to continue to leverage that work, to ensure that we’re reaching all the residents that we should be, and making sure as we do our work we’re co-ordinated,” said Deb Shime, senior vice-president of community impact.

A further $3.1 million will be diverted to the agency’s Youth Success Strategy, helping young people in need complete applicatio­ns for postsecond­ary education, access training programs and networking opportunit­ies and, ultimately, find meaningful employment.

In addition to the influx of funds, the United Way is welcoming new charitable groups into its fold.

It announced new partnershi­ps with 62 organizati­ons that provide broad, multi-faceted services in the region. Called “anchor” agencies, these groups will be assisted by the United Way in their advocacy, policy and fundraisin­g work.

Among the organizati­ons being invited to become United Way partners are the Canadian Hearing Society, COSTI Immigrant Services and Carefirst Seniors & Community Services Associatio­n.

And, for groups that do not have a formal partnershi­p with the United Way, a process by which organizati­ons can apply for three-year funding will be rolled out.

“We want to make sure that we’re serving the community better,” Shime said. “Really, at the end of the day, we are looking at how we make a difference in people’s lives and how the organizati­ons that we’re funding do that work.”

The expansion of funding and partnershi­ps is representa­tive of the broadened scope United Way was hoping for when its Toronto and York Region chapters merged two years ago, said Zanotti.

“We came together in 2015 with a commitment to do more and better in our region,” he added.

That goal became a reality in part because of a stellar year for donations.

United Way Toronto and York Region’s 2016 fundraisin­g campaign collected $102 million, more than any other United Way chapter.

But there is always room for more contributi­ons, of money or of time, Zanotti said.

“We love to have residents and community groups donate,” he said. “Whether that’s through donors or volunteers, we would love for people to get involved with us.”

 ??  ?? President and CEO Daniele Zanotti says the expansion reflects the broadened scope of the United Way’s Toronto and York Region chapter.
President and CEO Daniele Zanotti says the expansion reflects the broadened scope of the United Way’s Toronto and York Region chapter.

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