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netWORKS Program Funding Stream

  1. Context
  2. What is UWTYR’s Youth Success Strategy?
  3. netWORKS Program Overview
  4. Scope of Community Partner Role
  5. Community Partner Deliverables
  6. How the Community Partner will be selected
  7. Eligibility
  8. Program Selection Process
  9. Amount Available
  10. Use of Funds
  11. Summary of Dates
  12. Office Hours
  13. Appeals

1. Context

United Way has been serving the GTA for 100 years—and throughout our history we’ve worked to help kids be all they can be. We know the important role young people will play in our collective future—an investment today will pay large dividends tomorrow. When young people are given the right opportunities to learn, participate in their community, and build a solid foundation, it sets them up to be successful throughout their entire lives.

In 2013, we started a round of consultations to ask people what role they want United Way to play in building a better region. We engaged more than 1,900 people—and we heard loud and clear that youth should continue to be a priority in our work. That’s why, in our Change Starts Here strategic plan, United Way has reaffirmed our commitment to youth success for the years ahead.

The Youth Success Strategy (YSS) is one of three priorities identified in United Way Toronto York Region’s (UWTYR) new Strategic Plan, Change Starts Here. The three priorities for having greater community impact are:

  1. Support a strong responsive community services sector (CSS)
  2. Build strong neighbourhoods (BSN)
  3. Create youth success (YSS)

The YSS is our action plan to help young people get job-ready and equipped to build a better future. We created this strategy specifically for young people who have the hardest time to find work.

2. What is UWTYR’s Youth Success Strategy?

Our goal is: by 2025, United Way will support 10,000 youth facing multiple barriers to access meaningful career opportunities.

United Way Toronto and York Region uses the barriers as defined in the Province of Ontario’s Stepping Up Framework. Multiple barriers can also be understood as intersecting barriers that affect the employability of youth. The YSS focuses on youth who:

  • Live in Poverty
  • Are Racialized
  • Have a Disability or Special Needs
  • Are in and/or Leaving Care
  • Are in Conflict with the Law
  • Are LGBTTQI2s
  • Are Newcomer
  • Are Aboriginal
  • Are Francophone
  • Have Low Educational Attainment

To reach our goal we have identified four interdependent outcomes for the Youth Success Strategy:

  1. Increase applications to post secondary education among specific groups of youth facing multiple barriers
  2. Develop access to work relevant networks for youth facing multiple barriers
  3. Increase access to meaningful career opportunities (MCO) for high school graduates
  4. Increase access to experiences that build employer recognized soft skills

The YSS is a significant evolution from a broad investment in youth to an evidence-based strategy to support young people to develop the skills necessary for meaningful employment.

3. netWORKS Program Overview

Helping to level the playing field for youth facing barriers to employment, netWORKS is a coordinated approach to career-oriented networking and mentoring opportunities. This initiative was developed in collaboration with Ten Thousand Coffees, Civic Action and United Way Toronto and York Region.

netWORKS connects the dots between employers and youth through a new centralized, flexible and technology-driven platform. The program works with employers to engage staff who have “been there” and can offer guidance to youth who need it. Participants receive training to become mentors or mentees, engage in group networking sessions and have the opportunity to connect for individual networking, or more structured mentoring.

We invite all social service organizations with charitable status, as well as those that are incorporated non-profits trusteed by a charity to apply for the netWORKS program. Service delivery organizations must be located in and provide services in Toronto and/or York Region and must currently provide structured employment programming for youth aged 18-29, who experience barriers to the labour market.

The community partner must be prepared to adhere to netWORKS program model and actively support all components of the program.

This contract is for 7 months to support eighty youth to participate in netWORKS. United Way is seeking to contract two organizations, one serving York Region and another serving Rexdale. Please read the document carefully to see if this opportunity fits with your organization’s mandate and current capacity.

Project Components:

  1. Participant and Mentor Orientation Sessions
    All program participants (mentees) are required to attend a netWORKS orientation session. These half-day sessions are held at the community partner’s location and are facilitated by their staff. An orientation session should be held for each new cohort of 10-15 participants. A similar orientation session is held for volunteer mentors.

    The orientation session provides information about the program such as: commitments/expectations; supports available; networking skills-building; the netWORKS online hub and the creation of online profiles; code of conduct; collection of participant data.
  2. Introductory Networking Session
    All program participants (mentees) are required to attend and actively participate in at least one introductory networking session. The introductory networking session is a 2-3 hour structured session, hosted by a netWORKS employer partner and facilitated by United Way staff, with support from the community partner. Each cohort will begin their netWORKS experience at an introductory networking session.

    The session gives mentees their first opportunity to practice networking in a facilitated and supported environment. They will meet mentors, engage in initial conversations, book 1:1 networking meetings and learn about the types of careers at the host employer.
  3. Small Group Networking Sessions with Mentors
    Group networking events or “group chats” are initiated and hosted by volunteer mentors. They provide youth with an opportunity to explore areas of career interest and learn from the mentor’s experience in their field, company or occupation. Topics might include industry or occupational information, career path ideas, resume and application tips, interview tips, etc. Mentees have the opportunity to attend as many of these small group sessions as they wish.
  4. 1:1 Networking Meetings
    Once mentees have attended the introductory group networking session, they can begin to connect with mentors for individual networking and information interviews using the on-line platform. Mentees are encouraged to network broadly. Community partner staff will support mentees in preparing for information interviews and follow-up on advice and information received.
  5. Structured 1:1 Mentoring
    In late 2017, a small number of netWORKS participants may have the opportunity to be matched in an intensive, formal 1:1 mentoring relationship. This component of the program is still in development and organizations will be notified once the implementation date is finalized.

4. Scope of Community Partner Role

Eligible community partners must currently provide structured employment services to youth facing multiple barriers. netWORKS is intended to:

  • Integrate with and enhance the existing employment services and supports you currently offer to youth, specifically to support youth in developing their professional networks.
  • Connect your organization to a broad cross-section of corporate and community organizations working to remove barriers to youth employment.

5. Community Partner Deliverables

  1. Staffing Responsibilities

    Management Staff:
    • Regular coordination with United Way
    • Participate in monthly community partner manager meetings
    • Manage the program within community partner organization
    Front Line Staff:
    • Complete outreach, assessment, and intake of 80 youth participants over the term of the program
    • Schedule, coordinate and deliver orientation sessions for 80 youth
    • Support 80 youth participants to create and complete profiles on the netWORKS hub
    • Accompany and support youth at networking sessions as needed as well as assisting at the event (e.g., set up and take down)
    • Deliver participant focus groups after initial networking sessions to complete data collection (demographics, etc.)
    • Ensure that all youth participants initiate, register, prepare for and attend individual networking and group chats on the netWORKS hub (e.g., researching mentors, companies, preparing questions, providing transportation supports, etc.)
    • Communicate monthly with UWTYR program staff to share:
      • Program updates
      • Upcoming session schedules
      • Challenges and opportunities
      • Evaluation findings
  2. Mentoring Component (if implemented within the term of contract)
    • Provide additional screening for youth participating in 1:1 mentoring
    • Coordinate, attend and provide support during mentoring orientation session for participants
    • Coordinate transportation for youth to mentoring sessions when required
    • Conduct follow up meetings with and provide additional support for youth as needed i.e., employment and wrap around supports
  3. Data Collection, Monitoring, and Program Evaluation
    • Collect participant information and track outputs
    • Support participants in completing participant surveys
    • Collect post-program outcome information as required
    • Provide input on the program pilot to inform the process evaluation and continuous improvement of the program
  4. Employment Services

    Community partners will provide employment services and supports to all netWORKS participants. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Fundamental job readiness skills workshops or activities
    • Career development/career exploration workshops or activities
    • Personal management (life) skills workshops or activities
    • Job attainment skills workshops or activities
    • Employment-related skills workshops or activities
    • Job maintenance and career advancement skills workshops or activities
    • Job Matching and Placement Services
    • Job Coaching Support for job placements/work experiences
    • Job trials and other short-term work experiences
  5. Wrap Around Supports

    Based on client need and staff assessment, the community partner will provide wrap around supports and referrals for additional services that support youth during their netWORKS program participation. Wrap around supports include but are not limited to:
    • Housing supports (if there is no in-house program, then formal referrals)
    • Mental health/health counseling (if there is no in-house counseling, then formal referrals)
    • Childcare supports (if there is no in-house childcare spots, then formal referrals)
    • Immigration and/or newcomer services (if there is no in-house service, then formal referrals)
    • Other (e.g., legal, hygiene, clothing, basic life skills

6. How the Community Partner will be selected

UWTYR staff and volunteers will review and shortlist applications based on:

  • Proven organizational health
  • Demonstrated capacity to fulfill the role of the community partner and deliver all project components
  • Clear demonstration of how netWORKS will be integrated into existing youth employment program to ensure youth have right skills and training to benefit from netWORKS
  • Demonstrated history of service to job ready youth facing multiple barriers to employment and career oriented employment opportunities
  • History of strong relations with employer partners in Toronto and/or York Region

7. Eligibility

This funding is open to all social service organizations with charitable status, as well as those that are incorporated non-profits trusteed by a charity. Service delivery organizations must be located in Toronto and/or York Region and must provide services in these areas.

We do not fund individuals.

To be eligible for the netWORKS program fund your organization must:

  • Be a registered charitable organization OR
  • Be an incorporated non-profit organization, trusteed by a registered charity
  • Have audited financial statements for at least 2 years (fiscal 2015 and 2016 years). In the case of trusteed applicants, the trustee must have audited financial statements for at least 2 years in addition to the applicant’s financial records
  • Provide structured employment services for youth in Toronto and/or York Region
  • Provide services to people living in, or at risk of, poverty

UWTYR will not fund the following (ineligible1 organizations):

  • For-profit organizations
  • Organizations that do not have charitable status or are not trusteed by a charitable organization
  • Government, government agencies, boards and/or commissions
  • Hospitals and long-term-care facilities2
  • Universities, colleges and school boards
  • Organizations that do not have charitable status and do not have a qualified trustee
  • Organizations located outside the City of Toronto or York Region
  • Organizations whose purpose is solely related to political activity, as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Organizations without a clear demarcation between religious and community service as evidenced in the organization’s by-laws
  • Organizations that could be deemed discriminatory, as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Foundations
  • Unions
  • Professional Associations

UWTYR will not support the following (ineligible programs/activities):

  • Services mandated by the Child and Family Services Act, ( R.S.O. 1990, c. 11)
  • Residential facilities that are licensed and regulated under the Child and Family Services Act and funded by Ministry of Children and Youth Services or Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • Residential facilities that are funded or managed by Corrections Canada
  • Programs that do not have a primary focus on youth employability (e.g., environmental, arts or athletic programs)
  • Programs that align better with or are currently funded through UWTYR’s Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy and Community Services Sector program funding

8. Program Selection Process

UWTYR staff and volunteers (including youth) will review and short list applications based on:

  • Demonstration of existing employment programs and supports serving significant numbers of job-ready youth who face challenges in accessing career-oriented networks and mentors
  • Have existing wraparound social supports or formal referral services to support the unique needs of youth population served
  • Management and frontline staff are able to support youth participation in all elements of the program: group networking, individual networking, individual mentoring with potential for long-term engagement
  • Demonstrated organizational culture that encourages and supports positive youth development
  • Demonstrated capacity to monitor, track and report on mentee outputs and outcomes

Note: UWTYR staff and volunteers (including youth) will review and short list applications and make referrals to senior management for final decisions.

9. Amount Available

The maximum funding available through the netWORKS Program Fund Stream is $49,200.

10. Use of Funds

The funds can be used for the following:

  • Staff Salary and Benefits
  • Program Delivery Costs
  • Administrative Costs

11. Summary of Dates

  • Application opens on the GO System: April 3, 2017
  • Application due June 5, 2017
  • Funding announcements August 2017

Program Milestones

  • Program and data collection begins (Agency begins recruitment of participants): September 1, 2017
  • Program ends: March 31, 2018
  • Final date to submit program report: April 28, 2018

12. Office Hours

Office hours are available to all applicants interested in applying for the netWORKS program fund via phone. Office hours are an opportunity to access support with your netWORKS program fund application and have your questions answered. Office hours will be held from May 15 – May 30, 2017. To make an appointment during office hours contact: Annique Farrell, Manager Youth Initiatives by phone at 416-777-1444 ext. 382 or by email at networks@uwgt.org.

13. Appeals

There are no appeals for the YSS netWORKS Program Fund.


1. Agencies listed as ineligible may partner in the delivery of a community service program or project, where a social service agency is the funding applicant
2. An exception will be granted to agencies that are currently funded by UWTYR