$139,800 OTF Grant Provides ‘Virtual’ Boost to United Way
Thunder Bay, ON – On Wednesday January 18, 2023, MPP Kevin Holland and MPP Lise Vaugeois joined friends and supporters of the United Way and dozens of Thunder Bay business and community leaders to celebrate the culmination of a multi-year pandemic recovery project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). The $139,800 Resilient Communities Fund grant, awarded in late 2020, enabled United Way of Thunder Bay to rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID- 19, overcoming pandemic-related operational and financial challenges, by designing and implementing a COVID-19 Digital Recovery plan and launching an online community impact platform.
“This grant by the Ontario Trillium Foundation to acquire much-needed IT infrastructure, software and training for United Way staff and volunteers represents a long-term investment in in the health and well-being of our community,” said Kevin Holland, MPP for Thunder Bay- Atikokan. “It will facilitate new ways to mobilize collective action on the part of individuals, businesses and organizations to get involved, donate, volunteer and advocate in support of vital community needs.”
The project allowed United Way of Thunder Bay to purchase laptop computers, voice-over- internet phone system, video-conferencing equipment and online information management software to support critical fundraising, granting, finance, HR, data management, volunteer management, communications and community engagement functions. And thanks to the OTF grant, United Way of Thunder Bay will be able to expand its network of business and community partners, increase community engagement and volunteerism, and facilitate greater collaboration by making it easier to engage with United Way virtually.
“The Ontario Trillium Foundation’s support in developing this exciting online engagement platform is great news for community organizations and service providers,” said Lise Vaugeois, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North. “Empower the North will foster collaboration, promote community-building and encourage the involvement of all sectors in helping address the needs of non-profit agencies and the vulnerable populations they serve.”
“The impact of this Ontario Trillium Foundation grant cannot be overstated,” said Albert Brulé, CEO of United Way of Thunder Bay. “This grant helped us to adapt our operations and continue to function effectively during the pandemic. Going forward, the long-term benefits of this investment will contribute to enhanced organizational capacity to better meet the needs the communities we support throughout the region. We want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Ontario Trillium Foundation on 40 years of granting and building healthy and vibrant communities across the province.”
The event included a “virtual ribbon cutting” ceremony to unveil the new online platform which is called Empower the North (empowerthenorth.ca). Empower the North will serve as a community engagement platform where non-profit organizations, community groups, service providers, volunteers, business and government leaders, community advocates and concerned citizens can connect, engage and collaborate to make a positive community impact.
In addition to funding provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Empower the North has received financial support for its development from the Thunder Bay Community Foundation and TD. It will operate as a collaborative with several community organizations helping to drive and guide its evolution including Lakehead Social Planning Council, Thunder Bay Public Library, Thunder Bay Community Foundation, United Way and Community Safety & Well-Being Thunder Bay.
To help celebrate the launch of Empower the North, Mayor Boshcoff concluded the ceremony by issuing a challenge called 3 Things for Thunder Bay that calls upon residents, businesses, service clubs and community groups to perform at least three acts of service over the course of 2023. To learn more about 3 Things for Thunder Bay and to register your personal pledge for 2023, visit empowerthenorth.ca.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations celebrates 40 years of grantmaking in Ontario and making a lasting impact in communities. Last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Visit otf.ca to learn more.