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10 incredible moments of impact from 2023

Two women embracing with a hug at a United Way event

In this special edition of the newsletter, we reflect on the moments of impact you made possible in 2023, including drawing attention to the housing crisis, connecting refugees to community and hosting a mayoral debate.

Dear Friend,

It’s a new year, a fresh start, and yet many of the challenges facing our community remain the same. Still, I feel hopeful for 2024, and I think you should too. Why? Because this past year, thousands of United Way donors, volunteers and supporters came together to meet urgent needs and improve social conditions in our region through some incredible moments of impact. I haven’t seen this many people getting out into community, participating in their workplace campaigns and joining our events since before the pandemic—and the results have been remarkable.

By working together to accomplish what couldn’t be done alone, we’ve connected refugees to shelter and community. Made sure neighbourhood redevelopment didn’t lead to displacement. Brought awareness to the housing crisis. Created safe communities and human connection. And all of it possible because of the support of people like you—donors who dug deep to increase their gifts, volunteers who selflessly gave their time and energy and people who believe we all have a responsibility to build a GTA with opportunities for everyone.

And with this momentum—with you—there’s hope.

We have much to build on in the year ahead, but first, let’s reflect on the moments—moments you made possible—that had such an incredible impact in 2023. They are great examples of what we can achieve when we work together, united.

Always, and only, thank you.

Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto

In no particular order, 10 incredible moments of impact from 2023:

A parking space shouldn’t be the only affordable place to rent

An underground parking space decorated with furniture to look like a one room apartment.

We launched OpenHouse, an interactive exhibit that shone a spotlight on the harsh realities of the housing crisis by showing how unaffordable our region has become. But the exhibit wasn’t just about raising awareness, it was about taking action, too.

7 steps that will help us end the housing crisis

We brought 400 non-profit leaders together to develop our Bringing affordable housing home action plan. It provides seven steps that all levels of government can take to fight the housing crisis—including providing land and assets for supportive housing projects like the Social Medicine Initiative.

A graphic depicting the front cover and an open copy of the “Bringing Affordable Housing Home” report.

Investing with equity

Representatives from United Way’s 14 new anchor agencies serving equity-deserving communities and neighbourhoods in Peel and York.

We renewed our $33 million commitment to our anchor agencies, including those led by and serving Indigenous, Black and other equity-deserving groups. On top of that, we provided $2 million+ in long-term, flexible funding to 14 new agencies serving equity-deserving communities, focusing on those supporting neighbourhoods in Peel and York where poverty is deepening.

A new hub comes to Bridletowne

We broke ground on the Bridletowne Neighbourhood Centre—our tenth community hub! The hub will provide healthcare, community space and community services all under one roof.

Representatives from United Way Greater Toronto, Scarborough Health Network, YMCA of Greater Toronto and government pose at a groundbreaking event. They are holding shovels by a mound of dirt, in front of a sign that says “Future Home of the Bridletowne Neighbourhood Centre”.

Generating $1.9 million for local businesses

United Way Greater Toronto President and CEO Daniele Zanotti with three entrepreneurs at the ILEO Community Storefront in the Distillery District.

Our Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity (ILEO) initiative was named one of Canada’s Frontrunner initiatives by the World Urban Pavilion in Regent Park. In just five years it has helped more than 140 residents get hired and generated $1.9 million in new revenue for local businesses.

Meeting a settlement emergency

We jumped into action this past summer to launch our African Resettlement Emergency Fund. The result was $415,000 invested in 42 organizations, including African Community Services of Peel, Malton Neighbourhood Services and Miracle Arena For All Nations. Together, they are connecting refugee claimants to housing, food, health support and more.

Photo of staff from Sesheme Foundation and Working Women Community Centre at the African Resettlement Emergency Fund announcement at the Victoria Park Community Hub

Asking the tough questions

The six leading Toronto mayoral candidates and debate host standing on stage behind podiums in front of a black backdrop at the Toronto For All debate.

We co-hosted a debate for Toronto’s mayoral candidates, letting residents ask the tough questions. Our community-led conversation ensured candidates spoke to the key issues—housing, affordability, transit—ahead of the election.

Celebrating 10 years of preventing violence

We celebrated FOCUS’s 10-year anniversary. Since its launch, this collaboration between us, local government, police services and others has intervened in 5,000+ high risk situations before they can erupt in fatal or devastating incidents, impacting 9,000 lives and becoming the model for similar tables in Peel and York Region.

FOCUS Toronto’s Scerena Officer, Evon Smith, and Staff Sergeant Brian Smith

Stepping up for a stronger community

A man smiling and making the peace sign with his hand as he climbs up the last few steps of the CN Tower at United Way’s ClimbUP fundraising event.

An amazing 5,600 climbers and 278 volunteers joined us for ClimbUP 2023—our first CN Tower climb in three years. Together, we raised a remarkable $1.5 million for community.

United against poverty

And of course, thanks to supporters like you, we funded 300 community agencies and 650+ programs across Peel, Toronto and York Region, connecting 2 million people to food, housing, mental health support and more.

A graphic depicting three people looking strong with a red background and the words “United we can end poverty.”

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