United announces $8 million to boost eight hub communities
On May 30, we announced a total of $8 million in grants to help address pressing issues identified by local leadership in each of our hub market communities – Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark/New York and Washington, D.C. The announcement represents our commitment to invest in and lift up the communities where many of our customers and employees live and work.
San Francisco, California
On August 24, we announced a $1 million grant to the San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network (SFILEN) to increase its advocacy and community engagement endeavors in the immigrant community. The four-year grant will allow SFILEN's Rapid Response Network to add staff and to strengthen its legal and education services. This grant also will help SFILEN provide mental health evaluations and interpretation services.
"United cares deeply about investing in communities we serve," said Janet Lamkin, United's President of California. "We have been a part of the San Francisco community for 90 years, and we are proud to help SFILEN in its important work with the immigrant community."
Learn more about this grant to the San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network at United Newsroom.
New York & New Jersey
On July 18, we announced a $2 million grant to be split between the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Urban League of Essex County, and Year Up New York. These organizations were selected for their work within the local communities that surround Newark Liberty International Airport and their dedication to vital workforce development programs giving people opportunities for the future.
"We are thrilled to be able to provide support to multiple New York and New Jersey communities to help individuals build their professional and personal development job skills," said Jill Kaplan, president, New York/New Jersey for United Airlines. "The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Urban League of Essex County, and Year Up New York align to our core values as a company and the grants will provide new opportunities for each organization to further promote their missions."
Learn more about this grant to the Community FoodBank, Urban League of Essex County and Year Up New York at United Newsroom.
Los Angeles, California
On July 13, we announced a $1 million grant to First Place for Youth, a Los Angeles nonprofit organization, in support of their My First Place program. The four-year investment will enable First Place to expand wraparound support services to 50 percent more foster youth in the region. First Place will strengthen career-focused programming and provide the tools to help secure meaningful employment and increase lifetime earning potential for Angeleno foster youth.
"Everyone deserves access to the opportunity to earn a paycheck and succeed, especially our most vulnerable young people," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Through our HIRE LA's Youth program, partners like United Airlines and First Place For Youth are helping our young people find jobs, start careers, and realize their dreams."
Over the next four years, our investment in the My First Place program will help First Place for Youth provide Los Angeles' foster youth with safe, stable housing, individualized education and employment counseling and healthy living support services. We will work hand-in-hand with the local organization and engage with city and community leadership to create profound, sustainable advancements for the city's foster youth population.
Learn more about this grant to First Place for Youth at United Newsroom.
On June 29, we shared a $1 million grant to Warren Village, a Denver nonprofit organization that has been helping low-income, single-parent families make the journey from poverty to self-sufficiency using a two-generational model since 1974.
"Warren Village is a wonderful organization that is helping address Denver's homelessness through a comprehensive program designed to help single parents achieve sustainable stability for not only themselves, but their families, too," United's Vice President of Denver Operations Steve Jaquith said. "We're looking forward to partnering with Warren Village to help them in their mission to provide education, skills, hope and a bright future for those who need it most."
Our investment will provide both program and growth support for Warren Village, including improvements to the program and a focus on increasing participation. Additionally, we will be engaging our Denver employees in a variety of volunteer activities with Warren Village.
Learn more about this grant to Warren Village at United Newsroom.
On Wednesday, June 27, at our Washington Dulles hub, we announced a $1 million grant to the Year Up National Capital Region to provide professional skills and transportation resources to the students in the program.
Specifically, we will work with this nonprofit organization to help close the "Opportunity Divide," specifically addressing the main barriers to the organization's program participants in the capital region: transportation and examination fees. By providing needed stipends and shuttle transportation from Year Up locations to internships and training opportunities in the region that would be difficult to reach without a personal vehicle, this grant will enable Year Up to provide motivated and talented young adults with technical and professional skills training to achieve upward economic mobility and access to meaningful careers within one year.
"More than 40 percent of our young adults face transportation challenges, and this grant will allow us to provide more transportation resources at all stages of the program, as well as deepen other student services support," said Guylaine Saint Juste, Executive Director of Year Up National Capital Region. "The generous grant from United Airlines will be able provide our students with more resources and remove barriers to their success."
Learn more about this grant to the Year Up National Capital Region at United Newsroom.
On June 13, we shared a $1 million grant to the Houston Food Bank in support of their School Market program. The School Market program was specifically expanded to assist children attending Harvey-affected schools, which were among the hardest hit after Hurricane Harvey.
Our investment in the Food Bank's School Market program will provide nutritious food to students at 25 schools, each serving an average of 200 households a year. Among the 25 schools, 10 schools will receive new United-branded brick and mortar pantries onsite and 15 will receive mobile pantries. All pantries will be open this fall for the new school year and provide families the opportunity to shop for food throughout the academic year. By improving the quality of food and providing more access to fruits and vegetables, the Houston Food Bank expects to help increase students' fruit and vegetable intake, improve their academic performance and school attendance.
"United Airlines has a special connection to Houston and they continue to be a wonderful partner with the Houston Food Bank," says Brian Greene, president/CEO of the non-profit organization, the largest food bank in the nation. "Their latest grant will make it possible for us to provide food and nutrition educations to families, including many of whom were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We thank United for making this important, substantial investment into one of its largest hub cities."
Learn more about this grant to Houston Food Bank at United Newsroom.
In our inaugural announcement, we shared that we will work with the nonprofit Year Up to help close the "Opportunity Divide." in Chicago. This grant for $1 million to Year Up in Chicago will enable the organization to provide hundreds of additional motivated and talented young adults in Chicago with in-demand technical and professional skills training, hands-on corporate internship experience at top companies including United, college credits and support necessary to achieve upward economic mobility and access to meaningful careers in just one year.
Our investment in Year Up Chicago is expected to grow the program's reach by 25 percent while also contributing to launching a second campus in connection with Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and the City of Chicago.
"Connecting our customers to the moments that matter most goes well beyond getting them from point A to point B," said Oscar Munoz, United's chief executive officer. "We have the opportunity to make lasting, measurable change. We are proud to do our part to help our home here in Chicago and are excited to share more with each of our hub communities over the coming weeks."
"Here in Cook County, more than 94,000 young adults are out of work and out of school, disconnected from the economic mainstream," said Jack Crowe, Year Up Chicago's executive director. "With United Airlines' help, Year Up Chicago will be able to accelerate its expansion, strengthening our communities and Chicago as a whole."
Learn more about this grant Year Up Chicago at United Newsroom
Today's announcement is the second in a series of community grant announcements United is making in all of its domestic hub markets over the coming weeks. In each community, we worked with city leadership to identify a unique area of critical needs in the city as part of our larger efforts to lift up communities in crisis.
Throughout these four-year grants, we will work hand-in-hand with local organizations and engage with city and community leadership to create profound, sustainable advancements.
Canada's largest city spreads out along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and it's a dynamic, multicultural and inclusive experience like almost no other place on earth. Not only is Toronto a thriving living city,it's also become one of the world's truly must-visit destinations. Regularly ranked as one of the greatest places to live, Toronto is the cultural center of the country and home to the biggest events, the most pro sports and the greatest concentration of theaters and restaurants.
Recent decades have seen regular multi-million-dollar upgrades to the city's public spaces, with a slew of great museums, iconic architecture and the redevelopment of the now glittering lakefront adding to the city's appeal.
Add in an ever-growing number of world-class hotels, upbeat nightlife that runs from dusk until dawn and a vibrant and diverse culinary scene influenced by the eclectic makeup of the city's people. Bright and bustling, cosmopolitan and cultured, unpredictable and energetic, Toronto has become one of the greatest cities on earth.
What you see and where you go will depend on the length of your stay. A week is good, longer is better. But even a long weekend will give you a taste of 'The Six' — one of the city's many nicknames, reworked recently as 'The 6ix' by one of its most famous sons, Drake.
However long you stay, you can't hope to see it all. So, consider what follows a starting point for your first visit…
City Hall, Toronto
The checklist sites
No visit to The Six can be considered complete without ticking off several of Toronto's true heavyweight sights. All of the following are in or within easy reach of the city's compact, walk-able and very vibrant center.
The CN Tower is unmissable in every sense, a vast freestanding spire that looks down upon the city and takes its place as one of the 'Seven Wonders of the Modern World'. Head up for the city's best 360-degree views, or get your heart racing on the EdgeWalk — a journey around the circumference of the tower's main pod, 116 stories high and tethered by a harness.
Back on solid ground, Ripley's Aquarium is almost right next door to the CN Tower and is home to 16,000 aquatic animals and the Dangerous Lagoon. A moving sidewalk that whisks you through a long tunnel surrounded by sharks and stingrays is guaranteed to make your heart race all over again.
Also close to the CN Tower is the Rogers Center, home to Canada's only baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Visit on game day for the full experience, or take the stadium tour to go behind the scenes and through closed doors.
In a city of so many museums and galleries, the Royal Ontario Museum stands out. Not just because it's home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, but as much because it hosts exciting Friday night events that include dance, drink and top DJs.
Two other must ticks include the Art Gallery of Ontario, which houses 95,000 works of art and is free for visitors under 25, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, which taps into Canada's national obsession in stunning depth.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Casa Loma is a must-visit Gothic castle in the heart of the city. North America's only castle is filled with artworks and treasures from Canada and beyond, but its big pull is the network of hidden tunnels to explore as they stretch out beneath the city.
Toronto's multi-cultural makeup is visible all across the city but reflected best in its remarkable culinary scene (see Where to eat and drink). The city's 'fresh and local' mantra is perfectly showcased at St. Lawrence Market, one of the world's greatest food experiences. Pay it a visit and grab a peameal bacon sandwich — a Canadian staple invented in Toronto and now considered the city's signature dish.
St. Lawrence Market
Afterwards, walk off the calories by wandering the historic cobblestone and car-free Distillery District. Once a vast whiskey distillery and an important spot during prohibition, historians mention that even Al Capone would visit the Distillery to load alcohol destined for the States . This iconic landmark now distils creativity within the 19th century buildings now home to hip restaurants, bars, independent boutique stores, galleries and theaters. Visit in December for the Toronto Christmas Market.
Finally, don't even think about returning home without having had a picture taken with your head poking through an 'O' of the multicolored, 3D Toronto sign at City Hall — the most Insta-worthy location in a city of so many. You'll need to head there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
If you stay long enough, take a ferry and hop across to Toronto Islands, a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario just south of the mainland. They're home to beaches, a theme park and a breathtaking view of the city's skyline and will very happily fill a full day of your stay.
The bucket list
You absolutely cannot leave Toronto without having witnessed the power of the Niagara Falls and its hypnotic mist up close. Trying to visit the Falls from the States is a trip on its own, but it's almost non-optional when you're less than two hours away in Toronto. Take the trip, buy the T-shirt and tick off one of the world's must-see sights.
Explore like a local
Away from the sleek, gleaming towers of downtown lie many of Toronto's less obvious but no less essential attractions. West Queen West is Toronto's hippest neighborhood and artistic heart, a one-mile strip of very chic galleries, stores, restaurants and boutique hotels. Kensington Market is a fantastically chaotic neighborhood and perhaps the best example of the city's famous multiculturalism. It's not a market as the name implies, but a collection of independent shops, vintage boutiques, art spaces, cafés, bars and restaurants from every corner of the globe.
The Bata Shoe Museum is one of the city's quirkiest collections, an unexpectedly fascinating exhibit that retraces the 4,500-year history of footwear. And as you wander the city, you can't fail to notice that Toronto's walls are alive with graffiti. Take a free 90-minute walking tour through the back alleys of Queen Street West and down Graffiti Alley to gain a better understanding of the city's street art scene. If you visit during the sunnier months, escape the hustle by heading just east of the center to High Park, the green heart of the city where forests, walking trails, picnic spots and even a zoo await you. Ideal to unwind after a long day of urban adventures.
When to go With the sun shining, May through October is a great time to visit, but the city is alive through all four seasons. The Spring and Autumn months are ideal as the humidity and visitor numbers are lighter, while Toronto comes alive through the colder months through a wide array of winter celebrations. One of the most spectacular is the Aurora Winter Festival, a six-week celebration that sees the Ontario Place, West Island transformed into four mystical worlds. Whichever season you choose, plan to stay for at least five nights to get a true flavor of the city.
Toronto skyline view
Where to stay To be at the heart of most of the attractions you'll want to see, aim for downtown. One of the best options is the Marriott City Center, not only because it's located right next to the CN Tower but also because it's attached to the iconic Rogers Center where the Toronto Blue Jays play and countless concerts and popular events are held.
Toronto Blue Jay stadium
Opt for a Stadium room and you'll look out onto the field. If you want to experience Toronto's non-stop nightlife, the Entertainment District is the place to be. If you're looking for a luxury experience, discover Canada's first St. Regis hotel in the heart of downtown.
Where to eat and drink Nowhere is Toronto's incredible diversity more evident than in its food scene — taste Toronto and you're tasting the world. The city is brimming with restaurants and cafés serving everything from high-end fine dining to comfort food from an informal neighborhood joint — plus every option imaginable in between.
For fine dining, consider Alo, Canis and Edulis. Book a table at Canoe, Lavelle, The One Eighty or 360 at the CN Tower and you're guaranteeing a view as spectacular as the food. Or experience the city's remarkable fusion food at DaiLo (French-Cantonese), El Catrin (Mexican-French) and the unexpected mashup of Rasta Pasta (Jamaican-Italian).
The above suggestions don't even scratch the surface of a food scene to rival any city on earth, with options to suit every taste and any budget.
How to get around Toronto is perfect to explore on foot or via a growing network of cycle routes. For a quicker journey, buy a Presto card to use the TTC, Toronto's subway, streetcar and bus system.
How to get there Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with United and you're around 15 miles west of the city center. The most comfortable route in is via the Union Pearson Express, which runs every 15 minutes and gets you downtown in 25 minutes ($13).The TTC is a cheaper option at under $5, but it can take an hour and a half and involves a number of transfers, while a taxi will take around 30 minutes and cost $45.
United flies to Toronto from numerous U.S. cities including our Hub city locations. Book your trip via united.com or by downloading the United app.
Around the web
Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).
Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes
Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.
These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.
Australian wildfire relief efforts
Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.
Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.
These medical supplies will fly to Melbourne (MEL) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.
By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives
Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.
On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.
Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit www.gofundme.com/f/ellenaustraliafund
We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.
Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.
In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.