It’s been almost a month since we started this conversation. I’m excited about what you’ve shared so far and looking forward to more discussion and more comments. Reading your thoughts on Toronto’s challenges motivates me. To work harder. To think more deeply about United Way’s work in our community.
Saleem and Orville spotlighted the importance of youth services and the need to do more. Mario and Kadeem told us firsthand what having someone to talk to, who believes in you, can mean for a young person. And many of you have asked big, difficult questions.
That’s a good question.
Toronto’s downtown neighbourhoods have had programs like YouthReach — and other types of social services and programs — for many years. But as we’ve seen in our research, the inner-suburbs haven’t kept up.
To address this challenge, we started talking to our member agencies. Many opened satellite offices and hired mobile workers to expand their reach into areas like Scarborough and North York.
We also worked with the Government of Ontario to create the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), which supported youth-led initiatives and encouraged leadership and engagement in all thirteen priority neighbourhoods. Initiatives like Hammer Heads, which trains young people in the construction trade and works to connect them to jobs. And programs like Success Beyond Limits, which provides academic support to students who experience challenges in the classroom.
Over the last few years, I’ve visited many YCF initiatives like these. I met vibrant, smart young people who, despite numerous challenges, are lifting themselves up. These young people, like Mario and Kadeem, give me hope.
So the short answer to Mario’s question is we’re working on it. We’ve made progress, but these things take time. We have a long way to go. And as I’ve said before, we can’t do it alone. We need help from people across our city to make change happen.
As we continue in these efforts to change social conditions, conversations like this one about how we can move forward together remain vital. So I encourage you to write in. Tell us what’s on your mind. If you’ve thought about adding to this dialogue, go for it. Do you agree with what’s been said? Do you have a vision for Toronto that you want to share? We value every idea, thought and question.
Whatever your contribution, thank you for being engaged.