how we help

Our Special Initiatives


Giving Gardens

In 2016, United Way was selected by the John Deere Foundation of Canada as a community partner to deliver the Giving Garden Initiative.

The Giving Garden Initiative was developed to be a catalyst for the production of nutritional food, community involvement, and self-exploration for children and adults with developmental disabilities, marginalized women, and children living in poverty, helping the most vulnerable people grow as individuals while fostering a sense of community.


"Simplicity is the key; gardening does not have to be complicated. It is a therapeutic tool that is accessible to all regardless of the gardener’s physical or financial limitations."

Our Garden for Giving acts as a simple tool for participants to see themselves in the same light or capacity as the plants they nurture. It serves as a reminder be kind to and care for themselves, they need to give themselves the same time and attention to grow and recover &/or adapt as does their garden.


Hygiene Kits


When people think of donating items, every day essentials like personal hygiene items don’t always come to mind. These items are challenging to access and expensive for people experiencing financial insecurity. United Way Niagara has responded to this community by providing Hygiene Kits for people who may be experiencing homelessness, living in shelters, living in poverty or in precarious situations.


  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • comb
  • deodorant
  • floss
  • bar of soap
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • wash cloth

By supporting individuals with these basic needs we are providing a sense of dignity to those who otherwise may not have access to these every day items. When a person is able to care for their own hygiene, they are then able to focus on other important needs such as finding a home, employment and a sense of community.  United Way has provided more than 2,600 hygiene kits to individuals in need in 2018.  Thank you for your support! 

For more information, contact Krista Butters at 905.688.5050 x 2115 or email


Niagara Prosperity Initiative

The Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI) began in 2008, when Niagara Regional Council approved $1.5 million in yearly investments to address poverty in Niagara.

The Niagara Prosperity Initiative’s goals are to:

  • Guide and direct investments on initiatives to alleviate poverty in neighbourhoods across Niagara
  • Advocate for change that will reduce and prevent poverty in the community
  • Develop and enhance collaborative relationships between stakeholders
  • Engage people living in poverty in meaningful ways to ensure that investments reflect need

As the Secretariat, United Way Niagara provides operational management of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative projects by conducting a Niagara-wide Request for Proposal (RFP), administering contracts and monitoring project delivery. We also provide technology and communication supports and handle the logistical and administrative needs of the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network to help this community initiative run smoothly.

Request for Proposals


If you would like more information about the Niagara Prosperity Initiative or the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network, please contact:

Natalie Chaumont
Program Manager, Niagara Prosperity Initiative - 905.688.5050 ext 2124 |

NPI Projects

NPI Resources

NPI Evaluation 


211 - INCommunities

What is INCommumnities?

  • INCommumnities is an award-winning telephone help line and website that serves as a gateway to community, social, non-clinical health, and government services.
  • INCommumnities helps people navigate the complex network of human services quickly, easily, and for free.
  • INCommumnities is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and in over 100 languages.

As part of our efforts to improve access to social and health-related support services, United Way is proud to be a founding partner of 211 in Canada. Currently, 211 is available to 60% (over 20 million) of Canadian residents in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Québec, and Nova Scotia.

To contact 211, dial 2-1-1 from any phone or visit

Ask us about:

  • Health services & supports
  • Financial & social assistance
  • Housing & utility help
  • Children & youth services
  • Food assistance & meal programs
  • Seniors services & home care
  • Government program
  • Parenting & family programs
  • Disability support programs
  • Newcomer services
  • Volunteers organizations
  • And much more!

When you don't know where to turn, turn to 211


Welcome Home Kits

Welcome Home Kits provide basic household supplies to individuals and families transitioning from shelters to permanent housing. Consisting of dishes, utensils, cups, pots, pans, soap, and other kitchen and bathroom supplies, these kits enable recipients to start their new lives with the materials required to cook and serve meals and to attend to personal hygiene. As a result, recipients are able to focus their limited funds on essentials like rent and food.

“Everything in the kit I needed and used. I had nothing when I moved – not even a knife and a fork. It was perfect. Thank you.”

- Recipient

United Way works with individuals, groups, organizations, and partners to collect new and gently used household items, to assemble the items into useful kits, and to distribute the kits to local agencies to provide to their clients. Since the program was established in 2012, over 3,500 kits have been distributed across Niagara to individuals and families in need.

“People staying in shelters are always struggling to try to make their limited budget fit and moving to a new place brings lots of unexpected expenses. For some clients, buying items like dishes, cleaning supplies, or even cutlery becomes almost impossible and they need to decide between being able to have some food in their cupboards or buy utensils. Some of the clients that have been able to benefit from the project had expressed that they had never had brand new dishes or pots in their entire life and the kits mean so much for them.”

- Staff, Agency Partner


Backpacks for Kids

Backpacks for Kids provides new backpacks filled with school supplies to children and youth from low-income families. Distributed through schools and community agencies, these backpacks provide kids and teens the opportunity to share the common experience of their peers - one of excitement for the new school year - while alleviating the financial burden for families.

“Backpacks for Kids is more than merely giving a child a bag of school supplies. It’s a bag packed with compassion, hope, and a world of possibilities.”


Coordinated by United Way, Backpacks for Kids brings together a number of individuals, groups, organizations, and partners. Together, we have distributed over 40,000 backpacks across Niagara since 2002.

“Thanks to Backpacks for Kids, I was able to give my daughter everything she needs for school. It was a huge relief for me and family. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you guys.”

- Parent of recipient

To find out how you or your organization can help, email


After School Matters

After School Matters is a network of free after-school programs delivering quality educational, recreational, and leisure activities. As drop-in programs, preteen and teens gain access to homework help, physical activity, nutritious snacks, and enrichment programs such as cooking, music, and science. Located in the stressed neighbourhoods of Manchester, Old Pine Trail, and Rykert in St. Catharines as well as in Thorold, these programs mitigate the negative effects of low-income for over 550 children and youth every year.

In spite of the fact that children and youth from low-income families are less likely to graduate high school, less likely to pursue post-secondary education, and more likely to live in poverty as adults, After School Matters is creating a measurable impact. 


Since attending:

  • 80% of participants report doing better in school;
  • 85% are more physically active;
  • 78% eat healthy foods more often; and
  • 95% feel better about their future.
"Forming friendships is very easy here, meeting new people is lots of fun and it’s good to meet new people. School is becoming easier because it is easier to understand more things. My mom works until 4 pm so if I went home straight after school then no one will be home but me and my sister. If I come to TASP then I can hang out with my friends and do fun activities."

- Program participant

To learn more:

“This program is a wonderful program that helped my son with socialization. He used to be a child who wanted to be by himself, now he is more outgoing. I also appreciate that a member from the after school program helped my son improve in his reading. This program has had a positive effect in my children’s lives. I want to thank everybody that is involved in making this program possible.

- Parent of participant

For more information, contact Krista Butters at  or (905) 688-5050 x 2115.