ON BEHALF
OF THOUSANDS OF
VULNERABLE JEWS
IN OUR CITY WHO
ARE COUNTING
ON US...

. . . THANK YOU

“When the pandemic began, we set two core priorities for 2020.


First, ensuring that no community member in need is turned away from UJA’s network of Jewish social service agencies due to a lack of community resources.


Second, ensuring that no Jewish child or teen would be disconnected from essential Jewish experiences due to the financial crisis.


While there is still much work to be done, we have made tremendous progress thanks to you, our generous donors and volunteers. Together, we are building our community’s resilience — and ensuring our collective renewal — from this crisis.”

– Adam Minsky
President & CEO
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

THE GROWING NEEDS

When COVID-19 arrived in the spring, thousands of Jews in our city who already struggled with poverty — 1 in 8 community members — suddenly confronted new dangers. UJA’s network of Jewish social service agencies faced a growing surge of requests for help amid the lockdown and new public health requirements, especially from isolated seniors, Holocaust survivors, families in crisis, and community members with special needs. From food and financial aid, to homecare and psychological support, the service needs of our community’s most at-risk members have risen dramatically this year.

At the same time, a whole new category of Jewish vulnerable has emerged: those who were previously stable but have been hit hard by the economic crisis. Nearly half of all Canadian households have been affected by job loss or reduced working hours this year. The Jewish community is no exception to this trend. An alarming number of middle-class Jewish families who were formerly stable are now in a state of financial fragility. In the wake of the pandemic, many have sought the help of UJA’s partner agencies to get back on their feet. Many more are projected to do so in the coming months as government benefits, savings, and severance payments run out.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, UJA’s network of Jewish social service agencies have seen a surge in requests for help.

100%

Increase in community members seeking help to find a job

85%

Increase in community members requesting addiction counselling

80%

Increase in requests for financial aid from community members in crisis

130%

Increase in the number of Kosher Meals on Wheels provided

72%

Increase in counselling calls/contacts via the UJA-funded Woman Abuse Program at Jewish Family & Child

40%

Increase in Jewish seniors, including Holocaust survivors, needing new forms of assistance

ALONGSIDE THESE GROWING NEEDS, THE ECONOMIC FALLOUT OF COVID-19 HAS BROUGHT THE ADDED RISK THAT TORONTO JEWRY WOULD SEE THE LARGEST WITHDRAWAL OF PARTICIPATION IN JEWISH LIFE IN OUR HISTORY.

Without support, many newly vulnerable middle-class families would have no choice but to withdraw their children from key Jewish identity-building experiences, such as day school, part-time schooling, summer camp, and JCC programs. A massive departure from these programs would not only impact those directly affected. It would threaten the very existence of community institutions, given the key role the Jewish middle class plays in sustaining these organizations through tuition and membership fees.

UJA’S RESPONSE

A rapid, focused, and community-wide response was crucial, given the long-term consequences if this short-term crisis was left unaddressed. In these two priority areas – supporting the Jewish vulnerable and maintaining the essentials of Jewish life – UJA projected that the needs of our community would grow by $25 million this year.

With our Annual Campaign traditionally raising roughly $60 million, we launched an Emergency Campaign for Community Resilience to raise the $85 million in anticipated needs. In so doing, we mobilized the full range of UJA resources – our donors, volunteers, and 100+ partner agencies – to ensure a unified response to the pandemic. Here is a snapshot of what we have achieved so far.

1,700+ VOLUNTEERS

mobilized by UJA to conduct wellness calls and deliver groceries to the vulnerable

2,500+ VULNERABLE HOUSEHOLDS

supported with grocery deliveries

37,000+ WELLNESS CALLS

made by UJA’s volunteer-driven phone tree to check on community members and identify the vulnerable

238,000+ MASKS

donated to UJA for our front-line agencies and partners, along with gowns, gloves, and hand sanitizer

$6.6M IN ADDITIONAL FUNDING

secured from government sources for our partner agencies, thanks in large part to the work of UJA’s advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

50,000 MEALS ON WHEELS

for at-risk community members, including seniors and Holocaust survivors, delivered through UJA’s funded partners

400+ COMMUNITY MEMBERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

supported with meals, at-home personal support workers, nursing care, and occupational therapy to get through the pandemic safely

60+ REOPENING PLANS

supported by UJA and CIJA, providing our partner day schools, part-time schools, JCCs, and camps with public health, government relations, and programming expertise

2,800+ VULNERABLE SENIORS

including many Holocaust survivors, helped with various supports, such as food, rental assistance, medical needs, and virtual programming to combat social isolation

110 INTEREST-FREE LOANS

provided to community members struggling to afford life’s essentials, due to the economic impact of COVID-19

NEARLY 400 STUDENTS

remained in Jewish day schools this fall, thanks to UJA-funded emergency tuition scholarships and loans provided to those facing financial hardship

ENABLED OUR NETWORK OF PARTNER AGENCIES TO SUPPORT THE NEEDS OF

25,000+
COMMUNITY MEMBERS

SUPPORTING VULNERABLE JEWS ACROSS OUR CITY

This year, UJA has a bold plan to double our investment in Jewish social service agencies through our Emergency Campaign. For most at-risk community members, there is no one program or agency that can alone address their multifaceted needs. A family in crisis may need temporary food relief, financial assistance to pay for necessities, an interest-free loan to get their small business back up and running again, addiction and mental health counselling, employment services, or other programs to help them get back on their feet. Your investment in UJA enables us to provide that comprehensive Jewish safety net. It helps strengthen and protect our community’s front-line workers. And it empowers us to develop, test, and measure innovative new approaches to combating poverty.

SUPPORTING AGENCY ADAPTATION

In addition to annual UJA allocations, 11 Jewish social service agencies received emergency grants from UJA to enable them to continue serving their clients in this period of heightened demand and new risks. To name a few examples, this included grants to:

  • Expand and reconfigure Kosher Meals on Wheels to protect clients from the threat of COVID-19;
  • Provide personal support workers to Kayla’s Children Centre’s most vulnerable students with special needs, who required at-home care during the initial lockdown;
  • Expand Jewish Family & Child’s dedicated support for Holocaust survivors;
  • Enable Jewish Free Loan Toronto to launch an online portal, enabling the agency to safely meet growing requests for help;
  • Expand the capacity of Jewish Addiction Community Services to meet a spike in requests for telephone and virtual counselling;
  • Provide sustainable rent subsidies, through the Kehilla Residential Programme, to Jews in our city struggling with poverty; and
  • Enable Jewish Immigrant Aid Services to provide financial aid to recent Jewish immigrants facing hardship due to the pandemic (many of whom do not qualify for government COVID-19-related funding).
  • UJA also secured donations of essential supplies, including more than 238,000 masks, to protect our partner organization’s front-line workers and clients. In partnership with CIJA, UJA also provided public health and government relations expertise to support their continued operations.

MOBILIZING VOLUNTEERS

With thousands of vulnerable Jews at even greater risk, UJA launched a volunteer-driven phone tree to make wellness check-in phone calls to identify community members in need. This effort has grown to more than 1,700 volunteers, including a specialized multilingual team, enabling broad and effective outreach to our diverse community. To date, we have made nearly 38,000 phone calls and connected hundreds of at-risk community members with UJA’s network of Jewish social service agencies for assistance.

INNOVATING TO HELP THE VULNERABLE

Drawing on our network of social service agencies, we have launched two new UJA task forces to bring agency collaboration and innovation to an unprecedented level, with a focus on:

  • Sharing information on the shifting needs of the vulnerable;
  • Identifying gaps in our Jewish social safety net;
  • Developing experimental new approaches to addressing the needs of the vulnerable;
  • Measuring outcomes;
  • Making the system more efficient to ensure more dollars go to those in need; and
  • Ensuring a “one-stop shop” intake process so that those in need have rapid access to UJA’s full network of social service agencies.

MEETING THIS CHALLENGE REQUIRES MORE THAN RESOURCES. IT CALLS FOR A COORDINATED STRATEGY THAT OFFERS A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HELPING THOSE IN NEED RETURN TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY.

SECURING MILLIONS IN GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR JEWISH SOCIAL SERVICES

Early in the pandemic, UJA’s advocacy agent CIJA was a leading national voice in support of the charitable sector. Following a successful campaign by CIJA, government emergency financial relief measures were extended to non-profits. To date, UJA’s social service partners have benefited from approximately $2 million in federal and provincial pandemic-related funding.

Looking ahead, the Government of Ontario has announced an $83 million Resilient Communities Fund to support charities and non-profits with COVID-19 recovery. CIJA will be supporting our partner agencies and institutions as they apply for these additional funds.

A UJA Food Box

RELIEVING HUNGER THROUGH UJA GENESIS’S COMMUNITY FOOD SHARE PROJECT

Within days of the lockdown, UJA mobilized the Jewish community to help those facing urgent and dire challenges with access to food. In the difficult weeks that followed, food and supplies were delivered to more than 2,500 vulnerable Jewish households. The success of this initiative inspired UJA Genesis’s Community Food Share project, which provided bi-weekly grocery deliveries to individuals and families struggling with food insecurity beyond the initial lockdown period. Through a unique partnership with Food Dudes, individual grocery sponsors were matched with community members in need. Building on this momentum, UJA secured additional funding for the project from the Government of Canada (via United Way of Greater Toronto), which enabled us to continue deliveries throughout the High Holidays.

MAINTAINING THE ESSENTIALS OF JEWISH LIFE

Early in the pandemic, UJA’s partner organizations in the field of Jewish education and identity-building quickly adapted to keep community members engaged through virtual programming. From day schools and JCCs, to summer camps and part-time Jewish schools, the creative use of technology made an extraordinary difference in the Jewish learning and mental health of thousands of community members this year.


However, many Jewish institutions faced a dual threat as a result of COVID-19. First, the suspension of in-person programming immediately cut off key sources of revenue, particularly for our JCC and summer camp partners. Second, the sudden vulnerability of many middle-class families impacted by job loss or reduced income left many at risk of withdrawing their children from these experiences, with the threat most acutely felt by our partner day schools.

KEEPING YOUNG JEWS CONNECTED TO LIFE-CHANGING JEWISH EXPERIENCES

Recognizing that many newly vulnerable middle-class day school families would not qualify for UJA’s regular tuition assistance program, UJA launched two new initiatives early in the pandemic. Through emergency tuition aid and interest-free loans, we provided a pathway for families facing financial struggles to keep their children enrolled in day school. Nearly 400 students have benefited from this program. Parallel to this, UJA has been able to meet a 15% growth in needs among those who qualify for our regular tuition assistance program.

Due in large part to this support, enrolment has grown in UJA’s partner day schools for the first time in 17 years — including 250 students in non-Orthodox schools, which have been particularly challenged over the past two decades.


This progress will be a model for similar financial aid programs for those struggling to afford other key Jewish experiences, such as part-time Jewish schooling, summer camp, Israel programs, and JCC activities, among others.

YOUR INVESTMENT IN UJA ENABLES FAMILIES IN TEMPORARY FINANCIAL CRISIS TO KEEP THEIR CHILDREN ENROLLED IN VITAL JEWISH PROGRAMS AND HELPS STABILIZE OUR COMMUNITY’S CORE INSTITUTIONS.

YOUR INVESTMENT IN UJA ENABLES FAMILIES IN TEMPORARY FINANCIAL CRISIS TO KEEP THEIR CHILDREN ENROLLED IN VITAL JEWISH PROGRAMS AND HELPS STABILIZE OUR COMMUNITY’S CORE INSTITUTIONS.

STABILIZING CORE JEWISH INSTITUTIONS AT A TIME OF FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY

The shutdown of all overnight camping this summer due to COVID-19 left a number of UJA’s partner camps in a perilous financial position. With many camps having significant fixed costs, the forfeiture of camper fees for a single year posed an existential threat to these vital centres of Jewish identity-building. Through the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, the Community Resilience Loan Fund was established to support the recovery and renewal of Jewish organizations, such as summer camps impacted by COVID-19. In partnership with UJA, the Jewish Foundation has raised close to $3 million in interest-free loans, which will help to ensure the survival of multiple non-profit Jewish camps, collectively serving more than 2,000 campers.


Similarly, UJA’s partner JCCs faced a serious challenge with the temporary suspension of in-person programming. In response, we focused on ensuring our JCCs had the resources to address two key priorities. First, enabling a rapid transition to dynamic online programming, which was essential in keeping members connected and engaged.

Second, supporting JCC preparations for a rapid and safe reopening, including a return to in-person programming, childcare centres, and other vital activities. In successfully meeting these two priorities, our JCCs have demonstrated extraordinary resilience and are well-positioned to emerge from the pandemic with strength.


An additional source of stability, thanks in large part to CIJA’s advocacy efforts, was the federal government’s decision to expand key pandemic-related benefits to include day schools, which were previously ineligible for assistance. As a result, UJA’s partner day schools have received nearly $3 million in federal emergency funding. CIJA was also instrumental in securing more than $1 million in government funds for our JCCs, which was particularly important given the significant, short-term disruption to membership and in-person programming fees.

LOOKING AHEAD

Together, we have made significant progress in meeting this unprecedented challenge. However, the community continues to face significant risk. As the pandemic persists, the financial and mental health strain will grow with it. UJA and our partner agencies project a second surge of requests for help from community members in need, particularly as those affected by job loss exhaust government benefits, severance, and savings in the months ahead.


Newly vulnerable community members have distinct needs that don’t necessarily fit conventional service models designed for clients who struggled with poverty before the pandemic. By ensuring a unique degree of community collaboration and measurement, we will identify the best programs and service delivery methods to restore new clients to self-sufficiency as quickly as possible.


In so doing, we will not only optimize resources and meet the needs of community members hit hardest by the pandemic. We will ensure that our community emerges with an even stronger and more effective Jewish social safety net, which can serve as a model for other Federations and non-profits outside our community.


As well, the two UJA pilot initiatives in the day school sector have served as a valuable experiment in determining how best to deliver support to middle-class families struggling to afford Jewish programming. As a key next step, we will be expanding our online portal, UJA Community Scholarships, to ultimately serve as a one-stop shop for needs-based grants to keep children enrolled in a wide range of experiences, such as summer camp, Israel programming, and Jewish activities based at our partner JCCs.

In the coming months, we will also be focused on addressing a significant challenge in another priority area: part-time Jewish schools. UJA’s partner part-time Jewish schools are already eligible for subsidies via UJA Community Scholarships, and we are dedicated to doubling our infusion of subsidy funds in light of the economic downturn.


However, the primary challenge facing part-time schools is diminished enrolment, as parents limit their children’s activities to reduce exposure to COVID-19. So too, Israel programming and other Jewish experiential travel will face substantial disruption as the pandemic continues.


UJA will be working with our partners in these areas to strengthen virtual and, where possible, safe in-person program offerings. In so doing, we can mitigate the impact of the pandemic on these vital experiences, keep Jewish children and youth engaged, and ensure a strong return to regular programming as the public health situation permits.


The pandemic appears to be far from over and will no doubt pose additional, unforeseen challenges in the coming months. However, our community can take tremendous pride in our resilience, unity, and commitment to care for our most vulnerable — as demonstrated so powerfully in the first phase of the pandemic.