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The Work

Fighting local poverty

We believe that every person in every community deserves the opportunities, access, and connections they need to build a good life – regardless of their income, the neighbourhood they live in, or their social identity.  

We fight local poverty by supporting the people impacted by this unignorable issue, and supporting the neighbourhoods they live in. We do this work by building and strengthening a network of agencies that function as the GTA’s social safety net. 

Three apartment complexes in the inner suburbs

Poverty shows up geographically. We do too.

People experiencing poverty are increasingly concentrated in neighbourhoods and geographic areas across our region. These areas are typically located outside of the downtown core, lack critical social infrastructure, and are poorly served by transit. The healthiest places boast a rich abundance of green spaces, safe streets, a mixture of cultures, and a strong social infrastructure composed of community services and programs. But many areas in our region do not offer these assets.

An Anishnawbe Health van parked at an outdoor clinic

We can’t effectively fight poverty without focusing on equity.

Poverty impacts some groups of people more than others. Indigenous peoples, racialized peoples, Black peoples, women, the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty and face significant barriers to bettering their circumstances. We prioritize opportunities for equity-deserving groups and Indigenous communities.

A sign with various social assistance services listed

Solving poverty is complex.

To meet urgent needs and change the systems that enable poverty, we focus our work in 13 different, yet interconnected issue areas:

How we work  

We do the research to understand the needs on the ground, convene and collaborate with local residents and partners to get the work done, and rely on the local love of our many supporters to put plans into action. 

Philanthropy: We mobilize the community’s volunteer and financial resources to fight local poverty. 

GrantsBeyond meeting immediate and emergency needs, United Way sustains and supports a network of local agencies that deliver essential services and programs to move people out of poverty. Our granting expertise is harnessed by philanthropic and government partners to direct funding where it is needed most. 

Convening: We connect business, government, community organizations, institutions, and residents of our region to meet complex needs and build stronger solutions to change the systems that enable poverty. 

ResearchWe focus on understanding how poverty works, and act on local solutions, including those identified by community members. Through our research and advocacy on public policy we tackle the unignorable issues that provide a path to resilience and opportunity for people experiencing poverty.

Public Policy and Mobilization: We leverage our relationships, research, and experience in community to drive policy solutions to address the root causes of poverty. We advance our public policy work through convening and collaborating, as well as engaging with all levels of government on solutions-focused approaches to addressing the most pressing issues faced in our communities.