We’re Getting to The Point

A $200,000 grant to the United Way of Forsyth County will help low- and moderate- income residents receive financial coaching and enhance their financial skills. The grant is part of the Financial Capability Network (FCN), a partnership between United Way and Wells Fargo. Established in 2012 with a five-year, $5 million Wells Fargo grant, the network aims to strengthen the financial stability of individuals and families in Forsyth County and seven other communities across the country.

Piloting strategies like coaching, financial wellness classes and budget workshops, the Financial Capability Network’s goal is to better equip individuals and families to make financial decisions that will improve short-term cash flow and long-term financial stability. In Forsyth County, the FCN program is called The Point, a mobile financial stability unit that brings services directly to residents, schools, neighborhoods, community events and places of worship.

In addition to the national grant, our local Wells Fargo donated $25,000 to The Point. The Point is operated by Financial Pathways of the Piedmont and managed in conjunction with Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina and Experiment in Self Reliance, all long-time partners of the United Way. The vehicle is outfitted with computers, internet access and the software needed to provide clients with an array of services, including: credit and debt counselling, financial education, free tax preparation, job training and preparation, information about banking services, assistance with financial aid applications for students applying to college, and asset building services.

We Believe Place Matters

The opportunity for a good life starts with our families, schools, and jobs; and it begins in our neighborhoods. We believe that place, or where we live, matters. Whatever country, state, city, or neighborhood we live in, each area presents us with a set of unique opportunities and challenges in our lives.

Over the years, United Way’s strategic partnerships and investments in solutions that address our community’s most pressing issues, have positively influenced the areas of Education, Financial Stability, Health and Basic Needs. However, not every neighborhood in Winston-Salem has always benefited from this success. In fact, from 2000 through 2010 poverty grew by more than 70% in Winston-Salem.

Furthermore, poverty is becoming increasingly concentrated within certain neighborhoods creating even more complex challenges. This negatively affects the whole community. The truth is that our entire community can only be successful when each of its neighborhoods is healthy and thriving.

Through a new initiative called Place Matters, United Way of Forsyth County is working collaboratively with a local grassroots community organizing agency, Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, and residents in thirteen neighborhoods in the northeast part of Winston-Salem to strengthen these areas. The work that is taking place in the area is called CiVIC, which stands for Community Voices Impacting Community, and is based on the principle of resident ownership of the process and outcomes.

The thirteen neighborhoods consist of a mix of priority areas (Ladera Crest, Bowen Park and Dreamland), along with more stable and established areas. In all cases, the neighborhoods have significant assets upon which to build. We are using an Asset-Based Community Development model (ABCD) which identifies all of a community’s existing assets – residents and their gifts, skills, and talents; formal and informal associations; the area’s history; and physical or natural spaces – and leverages them to build a stronger and healthier community. We are doing this “with” rather than“for” residents.

CiVIC is a fitting name for this area and for this work because resident leadership and ownership is the lifeblood of the Place Matters initiative. We understand that no one knows a neighborhood better than the residents who live there. That is why we are engaging with residents in order to better understand all of the existing assets, presenting challenges, and most importantly, the residents’ vision for their neighborhoods.

United Way will be working in new ways by creating relationships with new collaborative partners, while also maintaining opportunities for Partner Agencies to collaborate in this work. We believe that our Partners’ expertise and capacity in conjunction with the knowledge and experience of residents and grassroots organizations will allow for greater creativity and, consequently, longer lasting and more impactful results. We are committed to supporting work that makes a positive impact in these neighborhoods.

We are excited by the prospects that Place Matters offers, and there will be a number of activities and opportunities to support this work in the coming months. Residents of CiVIC neighborhoods have already begun participating on an Impact Council and have been hard at work shaping the priorities and desired outcomes of this work. They have been meeting at “Neighbor Nights” to discuss common interests and issues and strengthening personal relationships. In the coming months, we will be hosting “Network Nights” where anyone, not just CiVIC residents, is invited to meet and share their gifts, skills and talents to help address neighborhood issues. We will also host “Community Conversations” that will provide opportunities to foster relationships amongst local residents, grassroots or faith-based organizations, businesses, and nonprofits with the goal of deepening conversations around community challenges and creative solutions.

Please be on the lookout for invitations to some of these exciting opportunities. We encourage you to get involved and look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, if you would like more information or have any questions about Place Matters and CiVIC, please contact Alana James at alana.james@uwforsyth.org or Bret Marchant at bret.marchant@uwforsyth.org.

Written by: Alana James
Director, Community Based Collaborations

Our Vision for a Better Forsyth County

United Way and Forsyth County have made great progress over the years. Focusing on the root causes of the issues facing our community, we navigate major societal changes and economic ups and downs, always building upon our assets, addressing our weaknesses and seeking new avenues for development. But to sustain true change, there is always more to discover, more to give, more to accomplish.

Our community continues to face increasingly complex challenges. And community-wide challenges require community-wide solutions. In other words, effectively responding to our community’s issues requires that we work together to develop comprehensive and interconnected solutions. That’s why we focus on facilitating these types of collaborations across our focus areas of Education, Financial Stability, Health and Basic Needs. While we recognize that these are separate and distinct areas, their roots and deeply interconnected. When we commit to addressing these challenges collectively, all Forsyth County residents benefit from the progress our community is making.

CROSS-SYSTEMS EQUITY SUMMIT AT WSSU

MEDIA ADVISORY
For immediate release

CONTACT: Tory Gillett
336-721-9319 (office)
Tory.Gillett@uwforsyth.org

CROSS-SYSTEMS EQUITY SUMMIT AT WSSU

WHAT: Community-wide discussion about systemic inequity and how we can collectively impact change in Winston-Salem. Hosted by Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods and sponsored by United Way of Forsyth County.

WHEN: Saturday, October 24 10:30am-12:00pm

WHERE: Winston-Salem State University Anderson Center 601 South Martin Luther King Drive Winston-Salem, NC 27101

WHY: The region’s slow economic recovery combined with rising inequality and wide racial gaps in income, education, health and opportunity place the region’s economic future at risk. Local institutions, government agencies and community-based organizations unite to discuss, strategize, plan and fund efforts to address disparities plaguing our community. Join us as we learn more about what we can do in our sectors and how we can create cross-system change.

REGISTER: Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods 336.701.2NBN (2626) http://www.nbncommunity.org/upcoming-events

Campaign Launch = Madness (Moonlight Madness)

United Way of Forsyth County publicly announced the kick-off of our 2015 Community Campaign on Friday, September 18 at the fifth annual Moonlight Madness 5K and Fun Run, a fundraising event coordinated by the City of Winston-Salem to benefit United Way. Nearly 1,300 runners came out for the event, which started and ended at Bailey Park. One of the more unusual and truly “fun” runs in Winston-Salem, Moonlight Madness featured DJ Fish for entertainment, Mellow Mushroom pizza for sustenance, and Foothills beer—well, just because.

This year’s campaign fundraising goal is $16.7 million. Beyond raising money, the campaign aims to educate residents about major issues affecting our community and encourage everyone’s involvement in being part of the solution. “It’s exciting to see how our community rallies around improving the lives and opportunities available to everyone in Forsyth County,” says Tommy Payne, President of Niconovum, a Reynolds American, Inc. subsidiary, and the 2015 Community Campaign Chair. “We had over 30,000 donors last year as part of the campaign and hope that we can engage even more residents this year. People in Forsyth County understand the value of investing in education, financial stability and the health of our residents and neighbors. They recognize that when they give through United Way it makes a lasting impact and strengthens our entire community.”

A big “thanks” to the City of Winston-Salem, race sponsors, participants and supporters for making Moonlight Madness and our campaign kick-off such a success!