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Stories About Giving at Ryerson

Ryerson is committed to building a caring community. When we see opportunities to give back, we forge relationships with like-minded organizations in order to increase our societal impact. That’s why we’re thrilled to be supporting United Way through our 2017 campaign. Here are a few stories from our last campaign that demonstrate our commitment to helping United Way achieve their goals.

Together, we can make a difference in our community

Please join us by providing support. Your donation will make a difference. It will benefit the thousands of people who rely on the frontline agencies that the United Way supports.Those agencies provide nutritious food to children and youth, support to newcomers to Canada, access to treatment for mental health and addiction issues and so much more.


Your Neighbour 2016: Continuing to Engage and
Build Community

Now in its second year, the Your Neighbour project is a learning experience that connects students engaged with Ryerson's Housing & Residence Life with the Toronto community. Your Neighbour aims to strengthen the connection between city and campus by establishing relationships between organizations and students who want to be active and contribute to their community.


The Good Food Café

Ryerson University students in the Nutrition and Food Program get exposure to experiential learning opportunities with United Way Member Agency, Food Share and the Good Food Café. Through unique programs, Ryerson supports the United Way of Toronto.


Tower Neighbourhood Renewal

Based on the Vertical Poverty report from United Way, Architectural Science Students at Ryerson University work with community members to suggest innovative ways of improving housing within the city. Through unique collaborations, Ryerson supports the United Way of Toronto.


Spreading the Word

Rebecca Cohen

When Rebecca Cohen started volunteering with United Way Toronto, she didn’t yet have the whole picture of what the charity does - but now she’s tasked with explaining to others in her age group.

Rebecca - who has completed Ryerson’s Public Relations certificate program - had been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a United Way funded agency, and was asked to volunteer for the United Way’s Speaker’s Bureau. She ended up on the GenNext cabinet, a group of 20- and 30-year-olds who try to spread the word about the charity.

She’s now a big supporter, and she plans events and educates people about where their money goes and how the United Way works with community agencies across the city.

“The United Way does research to try to understand why issues are occurring. They ask, ‘Why is there poverty in certain areas of the cities, why are crises happening to people in certain areas?’ They’re looking for long-term solutions, so they have to understand the causes behind this.”

Rebecca says her experiences have given her a first-hand look at what people need across the city.

“We’ve gone out to different agencies and have seen the people affected by those services. These are not normally neighbourhoods I would have gone to. This experience has taught me a lot about people affected by poverty and the obstacles newcomers face. I’ve found out how hard it is to integrate into society and learn a new language. It has made me much more aware of issues that I wasn’t aware of before.”


Rudhra's Story

When Rudhra Persad moved to Canada 10 years ago, he needed a new start. He volunteered at the YMCA - a United Way member agency - while attending Ryerson University, and is now a staff member in the Tri-Mentoring program. Through unique people, Ryerson supports the United Way of Toronto.


A Reason to Give

Rona Abramovitch has had the United Way on her giving list for many years. The advisor on outreach and access for Ryerson says she and her partner feel it’s really important.

“We feel a very strong need, being people with stable jobs and decent incomes, to give back and do something,” she says.

Rona didn’t take the task of giving lightly. Long before she arrived at Ryerson, she researched the United Way and found it is well-run and efficient.

She also likes that as part of its support for many organizations the United Way is committed to research and understanding what communities in the GTA really need. “It’s an organization that doesn’t just hand out money. They really think about what they’re doing and they’re really strategic. That’s important to me.”

Since arriving at the university seven years ago, she gives through the Ryerson campaign. “When you donate, you’re sure it’s going to help. The United Way makes a difference.”


Giving Back with Expertise

Lawrence Altrows

Professor Lawrence Altrows and his students work with the United Way to help out people across Toronto.

Lawrence is with the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson. He and his students give their time and expertise to the United Way’s Action for Neighbourhood Change group, which helps revitalize Toronto communities.

A couple of years ago, he and his students helped out a group of youths in a priority neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end with an ambitious project. The young people wanted to launch a radio station that would broadcast music and community news. Lawrence’s team helped them develop a business plan and present it.

“The young people loved it. They learned a number of skills and networking. It was really obvious when they came for the presentation they really enjoyed it. And our students formed linkages with the community that gave them a great deal of insight.”

Lawrence and his students have been working on another project too. They’ve been developing an asset map that uses GIS information and shows human, physical social and financial capital that exists within a community. Lawrence says it can be used by community planners and by citizens to gain access to everything from community programs to local parks.

Lawrence says it’s important to give to the United Way and support their programs. “A lot of community organizations are under stress right now, and the United Way is one of the main donors to these organizations.”

Call-out for supporters

Have you been giving to the United Way for years for a special reason? Do you have a cool project you've worked on with the charity? Have you benefited from the United Way's help?

We'd love to hear your United Way stories. Contact Terry Beverly Marks at 416-979-5000 ext. 6543 or at

Image of United Way Toronto logo