The strength of a community is in the people that make it great. It lies in the compassion of Calgarians, who stand united in times of crisis.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people in Calgary and the surrounding area needed help—and fast. With the immediate effect of school closures, a swift rise in unemployment, unprecedented social isolation, and amplified mental health concerns, our community was struggling.

In March, The City of Calgary, including the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), worked with United Way of Calgary and Area to develop a city-wide fundraising effort to ensure social service agencies could quickly provide emergency funds to the most vulnerable people in our community. Two weeks after Calgary recorded its first presumptive case of COVID-19, United Way launched the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

Minutes after launching the fund, donations started pouring in. Calgarians were eager to make a difference in their local community.

To ensure the donated funds were invested wisely and efficiently, United Way implemented a stewardship alliance. Made up of influential local organizations committed to COVID-19 relief efforts, the alliance helped inform and direct funds to where they had the potential to create the most impact. Requests for funding to support the Indigenous community were reviewed by the Indigenous Task Force using a Circle approach.

By August 15, 2020, five months after launch, the fund had distributed over $10.3 million to 197 social services agencies, supporting older adults, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, Indigenous communities, and others impacted by COVID-19.

This would have been impossible without support from all levels of government, and more than 1,500 individuals and 90 corporations and foundations that generously donated to the fund to ensure no one is left behind during these difficult times.

What does this community impact mean? It means hundreds of Indigenous youth and their families were given gift cards to purchase basic needs like food, baby formula, and diapers. It means more than 100,000 pounds of food was delivered to households in urgent need of healthy meals. It means 500 Calgary high school seniors were provided much-needed technology to complete their studies. (And more—see how all gifts were invested.)

This is community impact.

Although the effects of the pandemic will be felt for a long time, Calgary has proven yet again that it is a compassionate, caring community that takes care of its own. Now, as we work on a new way forward for individuals, families, and the Indigenous community, we look forward to partnering with you so we can recover better together, and build back a stronger and more resilient community.

Thank you, Calgary and area, for showing your local love and for demonstrating that united, we make the biggest difference!

Join us to celebrate United Way month

September is United Way month. It is a time when hundreds of corporations and their employees start their annual fundraising campaigns to ensure United Way and its partner agencies can continue supporting the most vulnerable in our community.

Join us on September 9—virtually!—to kick off all the festivities this year, including a conversation with Vinod Rajasekaran, Publisher & CEO of Future of Good, on how you can be a part of creating impact in the new normal. You’ll also hear from our 2020 campaign co-chairs, and learn about what happens when business and civil society organizations join forces for good (it’s simply the best).

Let us know you’ll be at our biggest annual event of the year by clicking below. We can’t wait to #BeUnited with you.