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The Hub - A Message from United Way Calgary & Area President & CEO Karen Young

For well over a century the United Way has worked to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good. The United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Here in YYC, the United Way Calgary & Area partners with all areas of the community to get to the root causes of social issues and build a great city for everyone.

Helping lead the way in this unforeseen global pandemic to address its effects on Calgarians and beyond is once again the United Way. In 2014 Karen Young joined United Way of Calgary and Area as vice president and chief operating office. In 2016, United Way’s Board of Directors appointed Karen as president and chief executive officer. Karen came to United Way via The City of Calgary where she served for 26 years as an award-winning leader. Below is her message regarding the current COVID-19 challenge facing our city and the new COVID-19 Social Sector Information & Resources Hub.


"We know it’s been a tough time for all organizations. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is impacting our entire social services sector, and disrupting daily operations. You have not only mobilized your organizations to respond to this situation, you have also been reaching out to support each other. We value your significant contribution to the wellbeing of our community, and are grateful for everything you are doing to respond to this situation. We are all in this together, and the health and safety of our communities is United Way’s priority. At United Way of Calgary and Area, we are committed to supporting your organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Through our formal partnership with the City of Calgary (including the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, CEMA), we’ve been asked to undertake the following:

COVID-19 Community Response Fund – As the impact of COVID-19 in our community grows, so does the demand for social services. The resources raised through this fund will ensure agencies on the ground can continue their critical work in this time of need. Donations acquired through this fund will be distributed based on established decision-making criteria that has been developed in partnership with The City of Calgary (including the Calgary Emergency Management Agency), and United Way of Calgary and Area.  

Priority will be given to requests that provide immediate emergency response, ensure the greatest impact for the most people, and address the basic needs of individuals with significant challenges and barriers. Funds may also be used for response and recovery costs including, but not limited to: basic needs support, agency operations, staff and service delivery. Targeted vulnerable populations at greatest risk include the elderly, Indigenous populations, newcomers and refugees, those experiencing mental health and addictions issues, homelessness, domestic violence, as well as those who experience employment disruption as a result of COVID-19.

Requests for applications can be made starting March 23rd through our website. Applications for funding will be assessed by the Community Response Fund Stewardship Group, which consists of The City of Calgary, (including CEMA), United Way and Calgary Foundation and others as needed and determined by the group.  

We know this is an evolving situation, so we will be working diligently with our community partners to continue to monitor this situation and respond in the most effective manner.

Information Repository – At the request of the City of Calgary (including the Calgary Emergency Management Agency), the United Way of Calgary and Area has established a COVID-19 Social Sector Information & Resources Hub, in partnership with the City.  The Hub is a one-stop, centralized location of timely and accurate information and resources to support Calgary's social services sector during this unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis.  Information posted on the Hub will be sourced from trusted local, provincial and federal sources. The Hub includes information about local essential services and emergency response, as well as recommendations and resources for organizations to prepare their own responses to the pandemic.  

The Hub will be updated on a regular basis and can be found here:

Lastly, our team members will continue to reach out to you to understand the key pressures and issues in the community so that we can work with the City of Calgary and others to triage responses, as well as start to have conversations about the impact of this situation longer term. The initial results of our agency scan will be provided to you next week. If you have any questions, please connect with Susan Brooke or your United Way contact.

The United Way office is closed to the public and most staff are working remotely, meetings are being held digitally or by phone until further notice. Thank you for all that you are doing to support vulnerable Calgarians during this critical time. We’re all in this together and stand united with you."


Karen Young

President and CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area


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