June 07, 2007 09:58 ET

Congratulations Toronto! By Helping United Way Reach the Second Largest Fundraising Achievement in North America, You Truly Are-'The Giving City'

Generosity of Torontonians enables unprecedented community investment opportunities of $69.1 million for strengthening lives and neighbourhoods across the city

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 7, 2007) - United Way of Greater Toronto announced today that, thanks to generous donors in our 'giving city,' more money than ever before will be invested into neighbourhoods across Toronto this year-a total of $69.1 million. United Way's network of 200 health and social service agencies will ensure these donor dollars improve the health and well being of the neighbourhoods they serve, including priority neighbourhoods that have been identified by the City of Toronto and United Way of Greater Toronto as requiring targeted investment and support.

"Through their generosity to United Way, Torontonians are demonstrating their commitment to Toronto and to building a better city for all of us," said Frances Lankin, President and CEO, United Way of Great Toronto. "In 2006, Toronto's fundraising campaign was record breaking. Amongst North American United Ways, Toronto was second only to Seattle, Washington. An amazing feat which will allow our agencies this year to provide the important programs and services that continue to strengthen our neighbourhoods, provide opportunities for youth, and help newcomers fulfill their potential."

Torontonians donated a record setting $106.8 million in 2006, which will be allocated this year as follows:

- $69.1 million invested to United Way member agencies and special programs and initiatives across Toronto.

- $8.4 million distributed to other United Ways including Ajax-Pickering-Uxbridge, Oakville, Peel and York Region as directed by donors.

- $13.1 million distributed to charities other than United Way as directed by donors.

- $16.2 million, the net of United Way allocations and needs assessment expenses, pledge losses, and fundraising and administrative expenses (projected at 13.9 per cent)

Here is just a small sampling of United Way-funded agencies and the work they are doing in Toronto neighbourhoods to improve lives and build stronger neighbourhoods:

Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO) - Located just behind East York Town Centre, this agency addresses the challenges of the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood. TNO research revealed a lack of appropriate after-school programming and homework clubs for area youth, many of whom live in high-rise buildings with little or no recreational space. As a result, youth identified bullying and safety on the streets as areas of concern. United Way funding of $408,503 ensures TNO can address the challenges of the Thorncliffe neighbourhood, including those facing youth through projects such as the Youth Centre.

Now in its second year of operation and having served over 1,000 youth since April 2006, the Youth Centre, led by a 23-member Youth Council, is a hub of positive activity. It provides a safe place for youth to gather and engage in programs that promote skills training, education and the opportunity to develop leadership skills in a safe environment.

27-year-old, Aamir Sukhera, a volunteer member of the Youth Council, wishes a group like TNO had existed for youth when he was growing up in the Thorncliffe area.

"Everyone should grow up feeling safe," said Sukhera. "I believe that if we all do our part, we really can make a difference. The Youth Centre provides a safe and secure environment for our youth to interact, work together and identify with each other. It also keeps them engaged in something that really interests them, which helps keep them off the streets."

East Metro Youth Services (EMYS) - This Scarborough agency serves seven priority neighbourhoods, identified by the City of Toronto and the United Way, six of them in Scarborough - Eglinton East-Kennedy Park, Scarborough Village, Kingston-Galloway, Malvern, Dorset Park, Crescent Town and Steels L'Amoureaux. Continued United Way investment of $140,000 in 2007 ensures funding stability for the Violence Intervention Project (VIP), a youth-driven, youth-led and youth-centred program that enables young people to contribute their own ideas, energy and solutions to foster school and neighbourhood safety.

Currently, 65 VIP youth volunteers lead violence prevention workshops and training for other youth and sit on the VIP advisory committee.

The impact of VIP continues to grow each year and in 2006 alone, the VIP community program has

- offered 95 training and consultations to youth regarding violence prevention,

- provided 605 group sessions in the community in partnership with local schools, and

- provided outreach during traumatic times within school settings and touched the lives of over 5,000 youth.

"The programs at EMYS are amazing," said Thansha Sadacharm, 17, a VIP volunteer since September 2006. "I've met kids who were living on the street when they came here, and now they're in school. It's so inspiring to see the changes and realize what an impact EMYS has had in their lives."

Sadacharm says that volunteering with VIP has changed how she views her peers. "I saw the need for change, but I didn't realize that so many other youth felt the same," said Sadacharm. "Volunteering at VIP has restored my faith in the future generation."

Chinese Family Services - This multi-service agency serves the Mandarin-speaking community from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, identified as the single largest group of immigrants coming to Canada according to a recent study by Citizen and Immigration Canada. Located at Kennedy and Finch, this agency, through United Way funding of $488,000, addresses the challenges faced by newcomers to Canada by providing a range of services and support that provide opportunities for connection and integration within the community. A parenting program offers new families to Canada the opportunity to connect, exchange information and find solutions to the challenges they face as parents in a new country.

"As a recent immigrant to Canada and as a parent, I've faced the challenge of adjusting to Canadian customs and traditions and the group's discussions have helped me realize that we are not the only family dealing with these challenges," said Lisa Huo. "Everyone in the program is very supportive and encouraging and I've learned a lot from listening to the experiences of the other parents in the program."

Other Community Investment Highlights:

- Building on United Way of Toronto's sector-leading research, Poverty by Postal Code, the Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy identified growing trends of poverty and increasing population growth in Toronto's inner suburban neighbourhoods. As a result 77 per cent of new funding to agencies is targeted to these neighbourhoods indicating United Way's commitment to the priority neighbourhoods and other areas within the inner suburbs.

- 48 per cent of our funding is targeted to agencies and programs in the inner suburbs, home to a significant number of newcomers and youth. This is an increase of 13 per cent over 2002, representing a shift in focus based on the report from the Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force.

- $3.1 million to United Way's Neighbourhood Strategy, a five-year initiative aimed at creating long-term, sustainable change in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods.

- $1.3 million to Youth Challenge Fund for investment in grassroots, youth-based projects across Toronto.

Established in 1956, United Way of Greater Toronto is a registered charity and community impact organization dedicated to improving lives and strengthening neighbourhoods across Toronto. United Way identifies needs and takes action to create a better, safer, stronger city through research, partnerships and support of a network of 200 health and social service agencies.

- A complete list of United Way allocations is available upon request.

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:
    United Way of Greater Toronto
    Caitlin Stidwill
    (416) 777-1444 x396
    Email: cstidwill@uwgt.org
    United Way of Greater Toronto
    Corinne Smirle
    (416) 777-1444 x340
    Email: csmirle@uwgt.org