In a bid to improve transparency, the United Way Ottawa is expected on Wednesday to publicly release a list showing where its funding priorities lie.

Media agencies, including the CBC, had asked the local United Way clear up how it distributes money and why, following major changes the agency had made to program funding this year.

United Way Ottawa currently provides funding support for 178 agency programs.

The funding changes this year left some charities in the lurch, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa. The agency said last month it would be forced to stop matching underprivileged children with adult mentors due to a financial shortfall after United Way reduced its funding by 20 per cent.

Lawrence Greenspon, chair of United Way Ottawa's community services cabinet, said the organization raised $32 million this year.

He said that money would be directed primarily towards programs that help vulnerable children succeed in school, as well as families living in poverty.

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United Way Ottawa spokesman Lawrence Greenspon said funds would be directed towards helping underprivileged children and poor families.

"Work that has been volunteer-led, open, transparent, incredibly vigorous," he said.

But Brian Tardif, the executive director of the program Citizen Advocacy, was not convinced.

Tardif said his agency, which matches disabled persons who feel isolated in the community with a mentor, had its program funding slashed by 73 per cent this year.

Show how funds are allocated

He believes the grant was cut because the program doesn't find employment for its clients.

"I'm getting questions about who decided that philanthropic dollars should be used to support employment initiatives," Tardif said.

Tardif is among those urging the United Way to make public how much money each charitable agency supported by the organization actually receives.

"I would think that as an organization that raises money from the community, that it should want to publicly show how those funds are being allocated to the community," he said.

Misunderstandings

Michael Allen, the president and CEO of the United Way Ottawa, said he hoped releasing the funding list would clear up any misunderstandings.

"For sure there's been a lot of questions … and we want to be responsive," he said.

"Communication is something we can always improve upon, and our conversations will continue."

The United Way had stopped releasing detailed funding lists in 2008.

With files from the CBC's Laurie Fagan