From here to there: bringing a future without poverty into focus
For over two years now, the United Way social safety net has been stretched, to its limit. Together, we have worked steadfastly to respond to the deepest needs in our region: the interconnected hardships that are homelessness, food insecurity, precarious work and inadequate income, mental health and so much more. None of these issues new, many perpetuated by historical and ongoing inequities, structural discrimination and racism, and all exacerbated by the pandemic.
People across our community have been affected. But the gravest impact has been the disproportionate one on individuals and families already experiencing poverty — many who live in neighbourhoods characterized by low income, many who are Indigenous, Black or racialized, persons with disabilities, 2SLGBTQ+ people, women and newcomers. Pushed further into poverty, they continue to persevere in the face of steep challenges.
United Way was built for responsiveness, and throughout this crisis our experience as a fundraiser, grant maker and systems connector has been put to the test. But together with you and the support of our partners — government, corporate, institutional, donor and agency — we have delivered for community like never before: directing funds, coordinating support and streamlining resources to keep individuals, families and communities going and to mitigate what for some have been catastrophic effects of the pandemic.
In the grassroots of emergency though, we have never lost sight of the need to dismantle the underlying systems that maintain inequities, that leave groups of people and entire neighbourhoods behind.
Now, even as COVID‑19 remains with us, dominant or in the shadows, complicating the road ahead, so that progress is measured by one step back for every two steps forward, we are also fixing our attention on the future, intentionally shifting from the way things have been to the way they can be.
We all want this crisis over. But the reality is that the pandemic will have repercussions, for decades to come, especially for those who have been most impacted. And going back to where we were is far from good enough for so many in our community.
So, with your help, we remain focused: Not on recovery. Not on rebuild. Not on re-anything. This is the time to mobilize, to strengthen our purpose with the newfound compassion and hard-earned truths of the pandemic — and to truly transform our region.
Because equity cannot wait. Social justice cannot wait. We’ve sounded the alarm on deepening poverty, on growing neighbourhood inequality and stubborn systemic inequity. And now we are issuing a clarion call — asking you to stay with us as we take a leap forward to building something better. We are capable of so much more and with heart, imagination and hard work, together we can shape the GTA into the home we all deserve.
So read on to see what, thanks to your support, we’ve accomplished this past year and where we are headed next. Learn about our actions on the ground and our plans for beyond the horizon, as we carve out the space and opportunity for new models of progress to put down roots and flourish.
We have always been with community: 66 years ago, for every wave that COVID‑19 has brought, today and as we move forward. And united is how we will usher in much-needed change — and build it to last.
Always and only,
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto