Focus Areas

Developing a shared vision for community impact.

United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin has shifted its funding framework. While funding processes have not fundamentally changed, funded agencies and those applying for funding will be asked to situate themselves within one of three Focus Area Frameworks:

All That Kids Can Be

Children and youth need to live and grow in a supportive, inclusive and nurturing environment. By investing in young people, we help them grow up to be all that they can be, ensuring everyone’s future is stronger.


Outcomes for Children & Youth

1) Shared Outcome: Engagement in Learning

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Children & youth are ready to learn (e.g. commitment to learning, achievement and motivation)
  • Children & youth do well in school (e.g. mastery of age-appropriate literacy and numeracy skills, grades, on-time graduation)
  • Youth make a healthy transition into adulthood (e.g. successful transition to post-secondary education, training, or meaningful employment)

2) Shared Outcome: Connectedness and Community Involvement

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Children & youth care about and get along with others (e.g. empathy, interpersonal skills, sense of belonging, supportive relationships, peaceful conflict resolution skills)
  • Children & youth get involved (e.g. constructive use of time, meaningful participation in activities, sense of belonging, pro-social behaviours)
  • Children & youth take responsibility and lead (e.g. self-regulation of behaviour, planning and decision-making, leadership)

3) Shared Outcome: Emotional and Physical Wellbeing

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Children & youth believe in themselves (e.g. positive identity, self-esteem, sense of purpose, optimism, psychological wellbeing)
  • Children & youth can better handle life’s challenges (e.g. self-regulation of emotion, coping in healthy ways)
  • Children & youth make healthy choices (e.g. physical activity, nutritious diet, avoidance of risky behaviour)

Examples of Programs and Services under All That Kids Can Be

  • Early Years (0-6 years old): Pre and postnatal care, parenting programs, parent-child resource centres, school readiness, and home visiting
  • Middle Years (7 – 11 years old): Supports to promote the healthy development of school-aged children, and to provide support to parents and caregivers
  • Youth (12-24 years old): Services to support academic and educational achievement, leadership development, job training and supports, civic engagement, settlement and integration, social and recreational participation, and violence and conflict prevention

For more examples, see Appendix A: Programs and Services under Each Focus Area

From Poverty to Possibility

Poverty is a complex set of stubborn, intertwined social issues. United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin funds programs that help to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities, build the capacity of individuals to become economically independent, and advocate for the removal of systemic and discriminatory obstacles to economic security.


Outcomes for From Poverty to Possibility

1) Shared Outcome: Housing Stability

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Individuals and families have access to emergency shelter
  • Individuals and families access safe, affordable housing (e.g. increased access to appropriate housing; increased access to safe and affordable transitional housing)
  • Individuals and families have the resources and supports to maintain safe and stable housing (e.g. increased capacity to keep home adequately heated, ability to repair/replace broken or worn out utilities and furniture, reduced risk of eviction or homelessness, increased tenure or housing stability)

2) Shared Outcome: Food Security

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Individuals and families access affordable, nutritious and appropriate food (eg. increased affordability and availability of healthy and culturally-appropriate food; food is increasingly shared and distributed to those in need)
  • Individuals and families experience decreased stress and life disruptions due to food insecurity

3) Shared Outcome: Employment and Financial Security

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Individuals have family-sustaining meaningful employment (e.g. connections to available jobs, access to adequate employment opportunities, appropriate training, literacy, job readiness skills.)
  • Individuals and families are financially stable (e.g. adequate family-sustaining income, access to entitlements, benefits and other income supports.)
  • Individuals and families have manageable expenses (e.g. affordable and accessible child care and transportation, increased financial literacy, access to low-cost groceries healthcare, insurance, and banking.)

Examples of Programs and Services under From Poverty to Possibility

  • Food Security: breakfast/snack programs, community gardens, cooking programs, meals on wheels, community meals, food collection programs
  • Housing Stability: supports to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to find and maintain housing, meet basic needs and promote health and well-being
  • Employment: employment counselling, resume preparation assistance, interview training, skills upgrading, training and development programs
  • Financial Literacy & Asset Development Programs: banking services support, financial assessment tools, financial management workshops, financial counselling

For more examples, see Appendix A: Programs and Services under Each Focus Area

Strong Communities

United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin invests in programs that make our community vibrant and safe as well as create opportunities for individuals, families and neighbourhoods. We focus on improving access to social and health-related support services, as well as supporting community integration and engagement.


Outcomes for Strong Communities

1) Shared Outcome: Connection to Supports

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Individuals and families are connected to and able to access services and supports that they need
  • Community services work together to help individuals and families better navigate support systems, by redesigning and decentralizing service delivery mechanisms and integrating services
  • Individuals and families create and maintain supportive relationships and connections that enable them to offer and receive informal support.

2) Shared Outcome: Neighbourhood and Community Engagement

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Individuals and families feel a sense of belongingness and inclusion in their community
  • Individuals and families get involved in their community by volunteering or participating in programming and events
  • Individuals and families act to positively influence their community by (for example) coming together in resident associations, participating in the democratic process, or taking on leadership roles.

3) Shared Outcome: Personal Wellbeing and Safety

Examples of Program Outcomes include:

  • Individuals and families are able to live independently and make healthy choices that reduce risk or harm and prevent crisis.
  • Individuals and families have positive mental health (i.e., improved self-esteem, confidence, sense of purpose or life satisfaction) and are better able to handle life’s challenges (through improved coping or problem solving skills, improved management of emotions)
  • Neighbourhoods and homes are safer for individuals and families, especially victims of violence and abuse

Examples of Programs and Services under Strong Communities

  • Neighbourhood Development & Engagement: supports that help to improve the quality of neighbourhood life, foster community cohesion, and build and maintain an adequate network of neighbourhood infrastructure, social services and community programs
  • Newcomer Settlement & Integration: settlement and orientation counselling, information and referral to services, translation and interpretation
  • Community Mental Health: preventative services, crisis support services, addiction services and self-help resources, support for those with chronic illnesses, programs that increase public awareness and reduce stigma
  • Seniors: adult day programs, seniors’ centres, transportation to medical appointments, banking and other activities, and supports to caregivers
  • Domestic Violence: crisis intervention, emergency shelters, counselling and transitional services, parenting supports and legal support, advocacy and public education
  • People with Disabilities: supports to help adults and children with physical or developmental disabilities to live independently and actively participate in their communities, and supports to family members and caregivers

For more examples, see Appendix A: Programs and Services under Each Focus Area

We accept applications for programs that meet our shared outcomes, as outlined in the above focus areas. These focus areas emerged from a national United Way strategy to create more meaningful communication with stakeholders. Essentially, we are bringing more consistency to the way we talk about the work we do and the collective impact we have in our communities.

 For Agencies

To apply for funding, agencies are required to select a  shared outcome, included in one of the 3 focus area frameworks above, that your program aims to meet. From a ‘big picture’ perspective, this process will support the development of a shared vision for community impact. It will bring both clarity and a common understanding to the ways different agencies work toward similar outcomes, and may facilitate further opportunities for inter-agency collaboration.

This process is by no means intended to be prescriptive. The purpose is not to dictate the activities your program should focus on, nor to impose our communication strategy and operational frameworks on you, the funded agency. Your funding eligibility, or funding allocation, will not change as a result.

Note: When selecting a focus area, and a shared outcome within that focus area, avoid simply categorizing your program’s individual activities. If these activities are diverse, you may be inclined to select multiple focus areas. We understand the interconnectedness of the social needs your program addresses, and we commend you for reflecting this complexity in the breadth of activities your program offers. The choice of focus area and shared outcome, however, should be based on the goal of your program, which often aligns with the mandate of your organization.

From a ‘big picture’ perspective, ask yourself: “What are all of our program activities trying to do? What is the bigger purpose?” Now, which shared outcome, in which focus area, best captures this?

To offer a concrete example, consider a program that advises youth on employment and volunteer opportunities. While the program’s activities might relate to the Strong Communities focus area [with outcomes such as “connection to supports” and “neighbourhood and community engagement”] or even the From Poverty to Possibility focus area [with an “employment and financial security” outcome], the goal of the program is to support youth and help them reach their full potential. Thus, the choice of focus area is All That Kids Can Be.

For additional clarification, follow these links:

Appendix A: Programs and Services under Each Focus Area

Appendix B: Additional Examples of How to Select a Focus Area

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