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Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy Funding Opportunity

York Region – Neighbourhood Development Grants

  1. Information Sessions
  2. Funding Guidelines

Information Sessions

UWGT staff will be offering a series of information sessions following the opening of the online application to take place on September 21 and 24. Click here for more information regarding these sessions and to register.

It is highly recommended that you attend an information session.

Funding Guidelines


United Way’s (UW) focus on neighbourhood development has its roots in a decade of work in Toronto through the Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy (BSNS) as well as the Strength Investments Program in York Region.

Our latest research, The Opportunity Equation, emphasizes that income is increasingly polarized by neighbourhood and that where you live and your background increasingly determine your opportunities for the future.

This call for proposals for Neighbourhood Development Grants in York Region will bring together our approaches in York and Toronto and ensure that the BSNS is a regional strategy.

The strategy intends to engage local residents and build local leadership in order to enhance the capacity of neighbourhoods to tackle critical issues. The strategy has a specific focus on three main building blocks as per the Theory of Change:

  1. Neighbourhood stakeholders progressively develop skills to engage and find solutions to the issues most relevant to neighbourhoods
  2. Neighbourhood networks expand and deepen to include diverse partners - within and beyond neighbourhoods - to tackle the issues most relevant to neighbourhoods
  3. Neighbourhood assets become progressively more diverse and responsive to community needs

Building on municipal vulnerability, asset and opportunity mapping work initiated in 2014, UW further engaged in a collaborative project with the Regional Municipality of York in 2017 to identify areas of concentrated social disadvantage. A collection of indicators covering key areas including, but not limited to employment, housing and education, were considered to inform appropriate locations where a place-based approach in York Region is warranted. Further consideration included understanding local service gaps and opportunities based on UW’s community impact work.

As a result, Georgina and Markham were identified as areas of focus for this funding.

UW will support building strong neighbourhoods in York Region by introducing Neighbourhood Development Grants.


UW will award two Neighbourhood Development Grants in York Region: one in Georgina and one in Markham. These Neighbourhood Development Grants are for a two-year period for up to $100,000 annually in each area. The grants will be provided to community service agencies or collaboratives in York Region.



Grants will be awarded to community service agencies or collaboratives in York Region to support neighbourhoods to be able to support the building blocks (or pre-conditions) to facilitate community change. This work will enable neighbourhoods to develop more effective strategies to address key issues facing the neighbourhood. Community leadership among both residents and other stakeholders will also be strengthened.

More specifically, funding to targeted communities in York Region will ensure neighbourhoods will:

  • have the skills necessary to be able to work collaboratively with each other to make positive change in their communities.
    Expected result: Residents and other stakeholders will be equipped with basic community organizing and collaboration tools, techniques and approaches.

  • be able to come together at appropriate tables (networks) where they can identify and address pressing community issues.
    Expected result: Residents and other stakeholders have at least one network table where they can bring issues forward and strengthen collaborative activities. Residents and other actors develop trust and connections among one another and people begin to feel a sense of ownership over their community.

  • be able to identify local needs as well as existing local services and spaces (assets) that will help contribute to a thriving community.
    Expected result: As a result of a local needs assessment and asset mapping residents and other stakeholders increase their knowledge and awareness of gaps and strengths in the community.


Grant deliverables fall into two inter-related developmental phases:

 Neighbourhood Analysis Phase (Year 1)Neighbourhood Readiness Phase (Year 2)
A Build local knowledge about the initiative  
B Identify local networks and associations Build at least 1 local multi-stakeholder network
C Deepen local knowledge of the neighbourhood Deepen knowledge of neighbourhood assets and opportunities
D Build connections in the local community Expand engagement across new parts of community
Strengthen connections in local community
E Early identification of neighbourhood issues Collectively prioritize no more than three issues through action planning
Facilitate neighbourhood visioning
F   Build capacity for residents and local stakeholders


Agencies or collaboratives will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrate expertise and knowledge of evidence-based approaches to local resident and stakeholder engagement
  • Knowledge of potential or emerging local issues and assets in the area (Georgina or Markham)
  • Demonstrated ability to build community capacity and strengthen local networks
  • Understanding of issues of poverty and equity and demonstrated experience engaging people with lived experience of these issues
  • Capacity to act as a convener in support of local collaboratives and partnerships
  • Willingness to work with UWGT as a partner in sharing best practices
  • A clear workplan linked to the scope of the grant


Agencies can apply for up to $100,000 per year for two-year projects and may submit a separate application for each of the target municipalities. Applications will include a workplan which must articulate how the agency or collaborative will tackle the above activities.


The following types of activities are eligible for funding:

  • Community meetings
  • Information sessions
  • Community planning sessions
  • Community outreach
  • Partnership and stakeholder meetings
  • Research and surveying
  • Community gatherings (i.e., neighbourhood festivals, neighbourhood walks)
  • Trainings and workshops

The following types of costs are eligible for funding:

  • Staffing or consulting costs to support local engagement, partnership and planning efforts
  • Outreach to the community
  • Capacity building activities
  • Barrier reduction costs to support the involvement of local community members and groups
  • Supports to local planning activities and partnership


United Way welcomes applications from agencies not currently funded by United Way. Applicants can apply on their own or as part of a larger collaborative of 2 or more agencies. The lead applying agency must meet the eligibility requirements outlined below and will be responsible for the stewardship of the funds and deliverables. If you are not currently receiving funding from United Way then ensure that you meet the following requirements:

To be eligible for United Way’s Neighbourhood Development Grant funding, agencies must:

  • Be a registered charitable organization, OR
  • Be an incorporated non-profit organization, trusteed by a registered charity
  • Have audited financial statements for at least two consecutive years (fiscal 2015 and 2016 years; or 2016 and 2017 years), or be trusteed by a charity that has audited financial statements for at least two consecutive years
  • Provide social, community services, or relevant community development activities in York Region (along or north of Steeles Avenue)
  • Provide services or otherwise engage people living in, or at risk of, poverty

United Way will not support the following:

  • For-profit organizations
  • Organizations that do not have charitable status or are not trusteed by a charitable organization
  • Government or government agencies, boards and/or commissions
  • Hospitals and long-term-care facilities
  • Universities, colleges and school boards
  • Organizations located either outside City of Toronto, York Region or Peel Region
  • Organizations whose purpose is solely related to political activity, as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Organizations without a clear demarcation between religious and community service as evidenced in the organization’s by-laws
  • Organizations that could be deemed discriminatory, as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Foundations
  • Unions
  • Professional Associations

New Agencies:

Agencies who did not receive the application information directly from United Way should contact Ronni Gorman to inquire about how to register their intent to apply. (see below under CONTACT)


Grant application launched September 17, 2018
Community information sessions September 21 & September 24, 2018
Application Deadline October 29, 2018
Staff review of applications and shortlisting Early November 2018
Advisory Committee review and recommendations Mid-November 2018
Community Impact Committee (CIC) and Board review and approval of recommendations Late November 2018
Communication with agencies December 2018
Funding released January 2019

There will be no appeals process for Neighbourhood Development Grants.


Agencies are encouraged to contact United Way to discuss their interest in advance of submitting proposals. Contact:

Ronni Gorman
Manager, Neighbourhoods
(416) 777-1444 ext. 525