VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 4, 2016) - United Way of the Lower Mainland is investing up to $300,000 over the next years to build brighter future for children in Richmond's City Centre neighbourhood through United Way Avenues of Change.

United Way Avenues of Change is a bold early childhood initiative designed to tackle childhood vulnerability on a neighourhood level. To be vulnerable means to start school at greater risk of struggling in the classroom - and in later life. But when children get off to a good start, research shows the positive impacts are realized throughout a child's life.

Currently in the Richmond City Centre neighbourhood - bounded by the Fraser River to the north and west side, No. 4 road to the east, and Blundell Road to the south - one in two children are developmentally vulnerable compared to a provincial average of 1 in 3 kids.

The unique approach of United Way Avenues of Change is that strategies to help children start school ready to succeed are developed and implemented specific to the neighbourhood. Kids thrive when their neighbourhoods thrive.

One of the characteristics of Richmond City Centre is that many families with young children live in high-rises. An action strategy has been developed and will be implemented to address challenges related to so-called "vertical parenting."

Another characteristic of Richmond City Centre is that many families are new immigrants who may not be connected to their community and to programs and services available to them. A second action strategy that has been developed is to build a network of Neighbourhood Family Connectors. These volunteers will connect families to services and create a culture of parents supporting parents.

"Children account for 21% of Richmond's population growth," said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. "When we invest in our families and children, we invest in our future. That's why we actively support United Way in this important early childhood initiative."

"Richmond City Centre is the third neighbourhood to join the United Way Avenues of Change family," said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. "This collaborative project brings together community partners all focused on ensuring that children and families thrive."

United Way Avenues of Change will be managed by Touchstone Family Association, United Way of the Lower Mainland's partner agency. Richmond Children's First was instrumental in developing the neighbourhood-specific action strategies.

United Way Avenues of Change is up and running in Coquitlam River in the Tri-Cities, and in Guildford West in Surrey.

About United Way of the Lower Mainland

United Way supports children, families and seniors in need. We are leaders in our field developing partnerships, tracking progress, and bringing the right people together to initiate change. UWLM funds 150 agencies throughout the Lower Mainland to deliver more than 300 programs and services. To learn more, visit

Contact Information:

Media contact:
Jennifer Young
United Way of the Lower Mainland
604. 268.1333, cell: 604.309.3937