By: Namish Modi (he/him)

On Thursday, April 20th, the United Way Waterloo Region communities (United Way WRC) recognized the University of Waterloo for its outstanding contributions in helping develop a better community.

The University received the 2022 Spirit of Community Award in recognition of its robust fundraising campaign and programs like Co-op for Community. Co-op for Community is a unique partnership between United Way WRC and the University. The donor-funded program creates meaningful co-op jobs for students from all disciplines. The students work at local non-profits, affiliated with United Way, who need talent. Several of the non-profits are grassroots organizations. 

Group of United Way WRC representatives and Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) leaders Judene Pretti and Kate Dal Castel receiving the award.
Judene Pretti and Kate Dal Castel with United Way CEO Joan Fisk

Donations made to Co-op for Community go directly to supporting Waterloo co-op students’ salaries. Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) leaders Judene Pretti, director of Business Services, and Kate Dal Castel, senior development officer, accepted the award on behalf of the University at the awards ceremony in Cambridge. 

“There has never been a more important time for our community to tap into innovative talent and for our students to learn more about the community where they study and not-for-profits,” says Pretti.

“This award reflects the partnership between the University of Waterloo and United Way. Through philanthropy and programs like Co-op for Community, you see how Waterloo staff, faculty and students care deeply about the community and how United Way and its partner organizations can benefit from student talent.” 

Contributing to the community through our co-op program is very important to us here at CEE. We appreciate being recognized by the United Way and know our partnership remains extremely beneficial to our students and to the community as a whole.


The Spirit of Community Award honours an individual, group, organization or agency that personifies exceptional community spirit, team spirit and generosity through their partnership with United Way WRC. The presenter and sponsor of the award is Paul Morris, Senior Investment and Wealth Advisor, Morris Wealth Management, RBC Dominion Securities.

Since the year 2000, Waterloo's fundraising campaign has contributed $4.5 million to the United Way. The University’s United Way Committee of volunteers recruits ambassadors and organizes several awareness events like “Go Red Day” and “Souper Tuesday soup day.”  

“On behalf of all of us at United Way and all those we serve, we especially want to acknowledge the University of Waterloo’s partnership through the co-op for community program, the core committee and the ambassadors. They work tirelessly to organize a successful employee giving campaign, retiree campaign and raising awareness through events and messaging,” says Anjie Dietrich, manager of individual and major giving relationships at United Way WRC. 

Dietrich recognized Waterloo’s support, caring and determination that helps the Region’s most vulnerable during unprecedented times.  

In 2022, major donations were made to Co-op for Community. Through the Giving Tuesday initiative and large donations, the fund continues to enable students to make a difference in the community.