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Editorial: United Way, reconsider Urban League grant cuts

Editorial: United Way, reconsider Urban League grant cuts
December 17
00:00 2015

The Winston-Salem Urban League, a venerable institution in the black community and city of Winston-Salem, has had a rollercoaster ride this week.

As the organization prepared to name James Perry as its president and chief executive, reports surfaced that its budget is expected to be greatly affected by a change in the way the United Way awards grants.

A huge amount of the Urban League’s budget comes from the United Way.

Starting next summer, the United Way of Forsyth County will begin targeting grants for programs designed to tackle specific issues of health, education, financial stability and reducing poverty.

According to chief executive Cindy Gordineer, “We realized we needed to start investing in services and programs that will address the root causes of why people are struggling.”

But the Urban League helps people who are struggling and is helping to change one of its root causes: lack of jobs. Its main program provides jobs for older people who are struggling to find jobs because of their ages and other factors. The Chronicle has reported on what the Urban League is doing. Here are some headlines:

*Winston-Salem Urban League joins national movement to end senior hunger

*Big Four Alumni, Urban League unite for service (giving professional clothes to needy so they can go to job interviews)

*Winston-Salem Urban League receives $1,778,090 grant to employ older adults

*W-S Urban League celebrates seniors from 18 counties

The cuts in grant money will hurt an organization that helps a great number of people. The expected cut should be re-evaluated. The increased focus on poverty by Mayor Allen Joines should mean nonprofits that battle that aspect of life should be getting more money, not less.

Urban League board Chairwoman Evelyn Acree said, “The cuts will be very severe for us. This  will definitely be a major setback.”

The good news is that effective Jan. 4, James Perry will be on board.

Perry will replace Don Williams, who has served as interim president and chief executive since February 2014. Before recently relocating to Winston-Salem, Perry led the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center for ten years.

Building job opportunities for residents in the Triad ranks high on his to do list.

“We will continue to serve the Triad as we have always done,” Acree said. “We have an excellent team and with the addition of James, we’re going to continue to impact the residents who are often overlooked.”

Many of the people who are often overlooked are the people who are in poverty. The United Way should take another look at the Urban League’s mission to help fight poverty through job opportunities and change its plans for huge cuts in its grants for the organization.

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