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Building Strong Neighbourhoods

Image of peoplew at a community hub

Despite wanting to initiate change, many residents lack the tools they need to improve conditions within their lives and communities. Driven by our groundbreaking “Poverty by Postal Code” report, we joined community leaders in 2005 to confront the threat of growing poverty. United Way's Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy (BSNS), launched in 2006, aims to close the growing gaps within the city’s priority neighbourhoods through targeted efforts, resident engagement and improved access to programs and services. BSNS has three goals:

Focus efforts where they’re needed most

Through targeted investments and partnerships (including our relationships with community agencies, local leaders and generous donors like you), our Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy has invested $269 million across Toronto’s inner suburbs from 2005 to 2014, and 220 United Way programs and services are now available to residents who live in priority neighbourhoods.

Support neighbourhood change from within

We work to strengthen connections between residents to create vibrant neighbourhoods, where people feel a sense of belonging. Since we began this work, more than 150 new community groups have been established, allowing residents to take part in community-engagement initiatives. United Way has invested in various local projects and resident-identified improvements, including playgrounds for kids, community gardens and kitchens, and recreational and cultural activities.

Improve access to community supports

Our Community Hubs model was built on our knowledge about—and our years of experience in—making crucial social services available in the community. We built seven Hubs in neighbourhoods that faced a lack of access to important services and programs, as well as limited community space. Today, these Hubs are a one-stop-shop, where several services and programs are available for neighbourhood residents under one roof; Hubs also offer free use of much-needed community space. We put the buildings (including the way they operate) into the hands of the community, making them an important catalyst for neighbourhood change. To date, there have been more than 1.7 million visits from residents, more than 50 agencies operating in the space, and more than 2,000 residents involved in Hub governance, operations, or as a volunteer.