York U and United Way Greater Toronto partner to create positive change as communities recover from pandemic, weather high inflation, and cost-of-living crisis
TORONTO, Jan. 10, 2024 – Building on a decades-long partnership to address social issues and community needs, earlier today York University and United Way Greater Toronto (UWGT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance shared goals to benefit the communities they serve across Peel, Toronto and York Region.
Those goals include increasing equity and inclusion, community development, research and knowledge mobilization, learning and employment opportunities, inclusive economic growth, and sustainability. A first between the two organizations, the MOU will enable York U and UWGT to collaborate on research in areas that align with UWGT’s community priorities and the University’s areas of strength, including affordable housing, inclusive employment and income security, inclusive communities, and a strong social services sector.
As one of the shared areas of interest, social procurement seeks to increase community benefit by being intentional about how an organization buys its goods and services. York was one of Canada’s first universities to establish a comprehensive Social Procurement Policy as it recognized the way it purchases goods and services can foster inclusive economic growth and has a positive impact on surrounding communities.. By keeping community economic development as a core principle, social procurement helps create more sustainable and prosperous communities. The premise is simple: as York grows, local communities should share in the success.
“York University and United Way Greater Toronto are longstanding partners who share a commitment to creating more “York University and United Way Greater Toronto are longstanding partners who share a commitment to creating more prosperous and equitable communities to ensure that no-one gets left behind, and that we are fully leveraging the resources we have, including people, to build a better tomorrow,” says Rhonda Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “I am confident that by working together and pooling our joint expertise in research, advocacy, and public policy work, we can create a just, equitable and sustainable future for all.”
York’s vision is to offer a broad demographic of students access to a high-quality university, that is research intensive and committed to driving positive change. At the centre of the University Academic Plan is a challenge to elevate York’s contributions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For its contributions to advancing the SDGs the University ranked 33rd in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. York’s Social Procurement Policy is one way it is advancing its contributions to SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, which promotes sustainably managing natural resources, reducing and managing waste better, and promoting sustainable lifestyles and company practices.
In 2022, York launched its Social Procurement Vendor Portal, becoming the first University in Ontario – and one of the first in Canada – to open its procurement process to non-third party certified diverse vendors and social enterprises. By actively identifying and contracting with diverse-owned businesses and social enterprises, and others who disproportionately experience unemployment or underemployment and discrimination, York has prioritized vendor diversity through both its Social Procurement Policy and its Social Procurement Vendor Portal.
“Today’s MOU signing with York University is significant because we are recognizing the foundational role of social procurement and how we as large organizations can leverage purchasing power for economic opportunity” said, Daniele Zanotti, president & CEO, United Way Greater Toronto. “This partnership is about uplifting the neighbourhoods we call home, delivering more opportunities for the communities we serve, creating shared opportunities to improve social conditions.