United Way, a Think-Tank on Community Issues in York Region / Centraide, un labo d’idées sur les enjeux communautaires dans la région de York

The following story first appeared on the United Way York Region website on March 31, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site United Way York Region, le 31 mars 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission.

Participants at a United Way York Region community eventUnited Way York Region’s Board of Directors consists of a diverse group of community leaders and key decision makers who provide vision, strategic leadership, advocacy, accountability and stewardship to United Way. Passionate about the community, our volunteer Board members are dedicated to United Way’s mission of improving lives and strengthening neighbourhoods across York Region.

The Community Engagement and Research (CE&R) Committee is a group within the Board that acts as a think-tank on community issues in York Region. This committee plays an integral role by providing valuable information upon which the Board bases its decisions on where and how United Way’s funding can best be invested to improve the quality of life for all York Region residents.

“The CE&R Committee is comprised of a diverse set of community volunteers as well as leaders from the education, health and social services, law enforcement and business sectors,” states Elaine Walsh, Chair of the CE&R Committee and a United Way York Region Board member. “The committee members bring exceptional research skills and experience and a valuable perspective on social and community issues to help us understand and report on the needs and issues that face York Region.”

The CE&R Committee develops and oversees knowledge mobilization and dissemination and community engagement activities that help United Way York Reg

ion identify and address critical human service needs in our community. As a leader in building civic muscle and helping positively change community conditions in our neighbourhoods, the CE&R Committee is at the forefront of conducting innovative research and developing reports on critical issues that affect York Region’s nine municipalities.

For example, in 2008 the CE&R Committee released …if addressed, a report which kicked off a year-long dialogue across York Region on the defining issue of our community: the intersection of pace of growth, the changing face of growth and the places where said growth occurs. In 2009, after more extensive research, the CE&R Committee released addressing OUR STRENGTHS, which confirmed that York Region was a community of communities, each with unique, specific needs. The report essentially helped shape United Way York Region’s three strategic priorities: helping kids be all they can be, moving people from poverty to possibility and building strong neighbourhoods. As a natural progression to the if addressed series, United Way York Region has since launched two Meeting House series that revealed the need for a strong social infrastructure in York Region.

“Working with community partners, the information gathered and analyzed by the CE&R Committee from the valuable discussions that took place from all the Meeting House sessions revealed the need for increased social infrastructure within our rapidly growing communities,” states Ms. Walsh. “In Every Neighbourhood, United Way York Region’s unprecedented $30 million in 3 years campaign was created to answer this need and ensure that residents are able to access the community supports they need close to home.”

Moreover, the CE&R Committee has also played an important role in shaping our Strength Investments funding initiative. This unique program goes beyond the traditional way that United Way York Region supports agencies and programs and invests in residents, businesses and faith groups to work collaboratively on innovative and shared solutions to complex social issues. In short, Strength Investments supports neighbourhood change from within.

“The CE&R Committee is a passionate group of individuals with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experiences in many areas within our community. We work hard and are extremely proud to be a part of creating a positive impact in the neighbourhoods in which we work and live in,” concludes Ms. Walsh.

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