COMMUNITY IMPACT

One of the strengths of donating your money through the United Way of Elgin St. Thomas is the guarantee that money is used directly in the support of community programs at our funded agencies.
The United Way does not provide capital funding (cars,trucks, buildings, etc). We only fund programs, which means while you can donate directly to an agency where the money can be allocated anywhere, but it does not give you the securtity of knowing the money goes directly to those that need. If you are strongly in support of any one or multiple programs your donation can be allocated to the program you desire with us.

"When you know better, you do better" -Maya Angelou

That quote truly captures the learning journey that United Way Elgin has been on over the past three years. Action for Community Change, an Ontario Trillium Foundation funded project, provided our United Way, along with three others, the training and learning needed to be of even greater impact in our communities.
We've facilitated meaningful community conversations that allowed us to listen to citizens of all walks of life and to begin to understand what truly matters to them. We've learned how to take that information, what we call Public Knowledge, and combine it with the traditional Expert Knowledge that we've always been able to access. This provides us with a deeper understanding of not only what matters, but where there is a readiness to see change, where opportunities may exist and where we may have the best chance of success if we invest wisely.

Why change? Why now?

This alignment to our priority areas From Poverty to Possibility, Strong Communities and All That Kids Can Be will allow us to focus our investments, both financial and other, to be far more targeted. The goal is to invest in very specific opportunities that will allow us to measure collective impact and to show success in ways that have not previously been possible. It will promote collaboration, flexibility and the opportunity to work towards achieving long-term goals.
We've had many volunteers, specifically our Impact Investment Task Force and our Community Impact Councils, helping our Board develop the steps and strategies needed to ensure a respectful implementation plan.
While change is always difficult, we believe that it is time, in fact, it is necessary if we want to build resiliency and create the change that the citizens of Elgin County want and deserve.
As our partners, donors, and volunteers, we ask that you join us as we embrace this new way of working and serving our community. We look forward to continuing our relationships with existing community partners and recognize the opportunities to develop new relationships.
We've had a great 50 years in Elgin County and we are confident our 51st will be exciting as we embark on the final pieces necessary to be ready for 2016.

Journey to Community Impact

2004-2007 - A Community Matters

A three year transformational project with 16 other United Ways resulted in a deeper understanding of our pressing social issues. This resulted in many new initiatives and opportunities and a desire to re-frame our investments in a more targeted manner.

2012 - Action for Community Change

Ontario Trillium Foundation approves learning project for four United Ways to Turn Outward by engaging community around aspirations to understand Public Knowledge, Public Capital and to find the Sweet Spot for United Way to focus future investments.

2014 - Community Narratives created with the support of volunteers

Community Narratives were developed using the information gathered from our Community Conversations. Many themes were heard over and over again, especially around a sense of belonging, a voice that matters, the need to reduce stigmas and increase tolerance and understanding.

Belonging
People want to belong, but feel that there are so many barriers such as lack of knowledge, lack of transportation, lack of awareness, lack of places/spaces and negative stereotypes.

Poverty
People want a community where everyone's basic needs, from housing to food to social and recreation, are met in a dignified manner that allows for choices and options.

Children & Youth
People want Elgin to be a great place for kids to grow up; that includes having services, access, safety and opportunities.

Having a Voice
People want a voice and an opportunity to genuinely affect and influence change and to be empowered in areas that matter to them.

Transportation
People want convenient, safe and affordable options that will allow everyone to participate in a meaningful way to community life.

Mental Health and Addiction
People want a community that supports and accepts individuals dealing with illness in an open and understanding way and to ensure access to appropriate services in a timely manner and without stigma.

Education and Employment
People want a community that values education and can provide various opportunities to meet needs locally that will strengthen their future.

January 2014 - Impact Investment Task Force Developed

This Ad Hoc Committee of the Board was established with a goal of developing a new Investment Framework and respectful implementation process. Dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers sign on for a one year commitment supported by staff and a skilled facilitator.

April 2014 - Community Impact Council

Using both Public and Expert Knowledge, the Council established five Goals within our three Focus Areas, as well as numerous Investment Strategies that could be considered for funding to help us achieve our desired results. Woven throughout the Goals and Strategies is a consideration to ensuring ease of access, meaningful community input and a commitment to increase community understanding to reduce stigma and negative stereotypes.

May - Priority Area Goal Development

From Poverty to Possibility
That all people have support and options to access basic necessities of life; Education and Employment That the stigma of poverty is reduced by increased public awareness, greater understanding of its causes and ways to address it.

All That Kids Can Be
That all children and youth have the supports they need to thrive as they transition to adulthood; That there is enhanced capacity of the community to support children and youth in their transition through all stages of development to adulthood.

Strong Communities
That all people who are facing mental health and/or addiction challenges have access to community-based coordinated and timely supports; That the stigma of mental health-related issues is reduced by public awareness, education, early identification and intervention.

Giving People a Voice
That all people have meaningful opportunities to be positively engaged in their communities.

Winter/Spring - Funding application review process

Led by community volunteers, a review will be held to evaluate the applications and select those that we believe are best positioned to advance our strategic investment strategies. Volunteers will use pre-determined criteria and our Principles to help guide the decision making process.