CHARLOTTE – United Way of Central Carolinas announced the investment of $24.5 million into the community, with $16.3 million going toward the organization’s community impact strategy and $8.2 million in donor directed funding. Focusing on improving education, health and financial stability, United Way’s impact strategy works to boost economic mobility across the region, while also helping provide a safety net for people and families in need.
United Way will invest in more than 110 nonprofits and initiatives through funding provided by corporate and individual donors. More than 100 community volunteers helped make funding decisions during a five‐month process to evaluate requests and ensure grants were distributed objectively and aligned with United Way’s goals.
“Thanks to the generosity of our community and the hard work of our volunteers, we are able to take a significant step forward in our effort to increase economic mobility across our region,” said Sean Garrett, executive director of United Way. “When we come together as one, it really is possible to build a stronger community where everyone has more opportunity to succeed.”
As the area’s largest non‐government funder of health and human services, United Way shifted its community impact strategy over the past year. Insight from the Charlotte‐Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force report and more than 200 community conversations informed the strategy, which now focuses on building stronger neighborhoods, increasing racial equity and improving the systems that serve our children and families.
United Way’s impact strategy includes three elements:
• United Neighborhoods works to change the odds for those in our most under‐resourced neighborhoods by supporting community‐driven holistic neighborhood transformation and revitalization efforts.
• Unite Charlotte supports new and grassroots organizations through grants and capacity‐building activities focused on improving racial equity and increasing social capital.
• Impact Grants support agencies across our five‐county region that work collaboratively to provide comprehensive and coordinated services that will improve economic mobility and achieve results greater than any single organization.
“We recognize that significant change takes a willingness to do things differently,” said Wes Beckner, United Way board chair and BB&T regional president. “After two years of careful planning and collaboration with our community partners, we strongly believe our approach will help change the odds for children and families across our region.”
The strategy shift provided United Way the opportunity to forge new partnerships with organizations more closely aligned with improving economic mobility.
In addition to 36 new partners, 29 returning partners will receive increased funding from last year, elevating United Way’s investment in early childhood education, mental health services, access to health care and creating financial stability.
Other agencies will see a decrease in funding due to the shifting strategy as well as United Way’s decision this year to reduce spending from its reserve fund.
“We are taking concrete steps neighborhood by neighborhood to create an environment of opportunity for families across our region, while also reducing reliance on our reserves,” Garrett said. “We have worked closely with our agency partners over the last several years to help them prepare for these changes and will continue to provide support through the transition.”
United Way launched United Neighborhoods last September with the announcement of a $2.4 million investment over three years into the Grier Heights and Renaissance neighborhoods in Charlotte. The initiative focuses on partnerships with residents, community leaders, businesses and nonprofits, backed by multi‐year funding and staff resources from United Way.
United Neighborhoods will expand in 2018 with the addition of six “Building Block Grants” for neighborhoods including Brookhill, Hidden Valley, Lakewood, Smithville, West Boulevard Corridor and an effort focused on Freedom Drive. These grants support neighborhoods in the early stages of revitalization.
In April, United Way announced the second round of Unite Charlotte funding with distribution of $400,000 in grants to 24 nonprofits and grassroots organizations focused on building racial equity and social capital in Mecklenburg County. That brings the total Unite Charlotte funding to nearly $900,000 since its launch in late 2016 in response to the civic unrest in Charlotte.
“United Way is being both thoughtful and strategic with the direction they are taking to address the economic mobility issue in our region,” said Jay Everette, senior vice president and community affairs manager at Wells Fargo, which runs the largest United Way workplace campaign nationally and in Charlotte.
“From place‐based efforts in neighborhoods to grassroots grants through Unite Charlotte to the continued very important grants that support the work of so many health and human services organizations, it takes all that working together. Given all the challenges in our community, it’s nice to see United Way taking the steps needed to achieve a different outcome.”
United Way’s investment in the community goes deeper than funding. More than 19,000 people volunteered over 46,000 hours last year through UWCC’s Hands On Charlotte. An investment of time that benefited 146 local organizations and generated an impact with a value of $1,110,729.
Those wishing to get involved by donating their time, money or voice to make the Charlotte region a better place to live and work can do so by visiting www.uwcentralcarolinas.org and selecting the engagement opportunity that best fits their schedule.