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United Way board member expounds on Urban League

United Way board member expounds on Urban League
December 24
00:00 2015

To the Editor:

Articles being referred to: “United Way, reconsider Urban League grant cuts” and “Urban League, new president address United Way challenges”; 12/17/15.

It is true, based on the first wave of United Way grants for 2016-2017, that Urban League allocations might be down next year.  However, what these articles don’t speak to is that 25% of the United Way’s available funds have yet to be allocated.

That money, approximately $2.8 million, is earmarked for the Place Matters initiative, a resident-led, asset-based community development strategy being executed in the 27105 zip code in northeast Winston-Salem— a story covered in The Chronicle on September 10, http://www.wschronicle.com/2015/09/united-way-targeting-carver-school-road-area-millions-grants/. The Place Matters investments will be determined by the needs of residents of the 13 CiVIC neighborhoods and announced in March.  Both new and existing UWFC partners have been encouraged to apply, and many have.

Although the total amount being invested in the community through United Way will remain the same this year as last, reallocating a quarter of United Way funds toward place-based investments was sure to mean other adjustments would be needed.  For those partners who see decreases in funding, it isn’t because their programs aren’t worthy.  It’s simply that the resources are limited and the need is greater than ever as United Way tries to have a more sustainable impact on our community.

To alleviate some of the discomfort for partners experiencing a decrease, UW established a transition fund.  Even if the Urban League doesn’t get any additional funds as part of Place Matters, they would still receive $200,000 in undesignated dollars in 2016-2017, in addition to their allocation.

It is also important to point out that The Chronicle referred to the need for continued funding for employment programs for seniors.  The United Way is not, nor has it been, the funding source for the Urban League’s Senior Employment program.  United Way funding changes should have no impact on the program.

Over a decade ago, United Way began focusing on the areas of financial stability/employment, health, and education as the critical elements of a good life and a strong community.  Although we’ve had some successes, such as raising the graduation rate and ending veteran homelessness, there is still a lot to do.  Too many of our residents and neighbors still struggle every day.

Being a good steward of the funds our donors entrust to us means responding to the deeper needs of our community.  We also have the responsibility to support those programs that will have the most impact and create lasting, measurable change.

As a member of the Executive Committee of United Way’s Board of Directors, I can attest that’s exactly what United Way is doing.

Daniel Yohannes

Board of Directors of United Way of Forsyth County

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