Windsor, ON – As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the Gordie Howe International Bridge project team is donating $40,000 in support of United Way’s Ujima initiative, an incredibly generous gift that will help to officially launch the new initiative for local students this winter. 

“We heard from residents in Sandwich that partnerships with local agencies would be a key priority for a successful Community Benefits Plan tailored to the region,” said Bryce Phillips, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. “We’re proud to assist United Way as they launch a program that will positively affect the future of local youth, and celebrates and supports the many cultures that make up Sandwich.”

The $40,000 donation being put towards the Ujima program is part of a larger $160,000 the project will provide to United Way between 2021 – 2024 with annual investments of $40,000. Funding will go directly into supporting programs for Sandwich-area youth.

The Ujima initiative will support Black youth enrolled in United Way’s On Track to Success program. The word ‘Ujima’ (pronounced oo-JEE-ma) means collective work, union and association in Swahili. 

“Racially-marginalized youth face additional cultural and racial barriers navigating through school and in life. The Ujima initiative aims to provide a more culturally relevant program students in our On Track to Success program,” said Lorraine Goddard, CEO, United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County. “We are incredibly grateful for the generous donation through the Community Benefits Plan from the Gordie Howe International Bridge project team,” she added. 

The Ujima initiative is an equity strategy that will provide cultural support and programs for Black youth. It was designed based on best practices and feedback from Black students and caregivers in the On Track to Success program. The program will provide the following: 

  • Community mentoring to build positive character development – students will be paired with a Black volunteer mentor from the community to learn from and expand their network.
  • Mental wellness support to provide a safe and positive environment where students will learn about the importance of self-care and effective coping strategies. 
  • Cultural exploration to educate students about the elements that bind the Black community together, as well as the accomplishments and barriers that the Black community has overcome together.
  • Social events to provide a safe space where students can socialize and get to know each other.

In addition to On Track’s goal of increasing high school graduation rates and post-secondary enrollment, the Ujima initiative outcomes include increased school attendance, community connections and resources, improved academic performance, as well as self-reported improvement in mental wellness and self-esteem. 

WDBA Media Contact: 
Gordie Howe International Bridge
Media Relations Team

United Way Media Contact:  
Angela Kharboutli, Manager, Marketing & Communications
akharboutli [at]  |  W: 519-259-6169  |  C : 519-562-7841
Twitter @UnitedWayWE   |  Facebook: United Way Windsor-Essex   
Instagram: UnitedWayWE   |   LinkedIn  |

About the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan

The Gordie Howe International Bridge project is a once-in-a-generation undertaking. Delivered by Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority with its private-sector partner, Bridging North America, it will lead to much-needed transportation improvements for international travellers and provide jobs and opportunities for growth to the Windsor-Detroit region. Its four components include the Canadian Port of Entry, the bridge, the US Port of Entry and the Michigan Interchange to Interstate-75 (I-75).

The Community Benefits Plan supports opportunities and initiatives that can positively impact economic, social or environmental conditions for Windsor-Detroit, specifically the communities of Sandwich, Windsor and Delray, Detroit, the neighbourhoods closest to the project area. The Community Benefits Plan reflects community priorities and is comprised of two components:

The Workforce Development and Participation Strategy is geared toward engaging businesses and focuses on supporting workforce, training and pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship opportunities.

The Neighbourhood Infrastructure Strategy focuses on collaborating with stakeholders and community members through consultation to develop a community investment strategy based on identified priorities.

Learn more about the Community Benefits Plan by visiting

About United Way

United Way invests in a Cradle to Career strategy that supports children and youth from the time they’re born until they find a career and reach their full potential. United Way proudly invests in youth mentoring, mental health, in-person and out-of-school supports in three priority neighbourhoods – West Windsor, Downtown Windsor and Leamington.