Press Release : Forsyth County Receives $150,000 Through Grant Program by National Nonprofit StriveTogether to Improve Results at Major Milestones for Kids

WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA​ — The Forsyth Promise, a collaborative, education-focused initiative working to improve systemic outcomes for all of Forsyth  County’s students, has received $150,000 from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working  to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids.  The Forsyth Promise will use its grant award to activate the power of those with lived  experience in Forsyth County to plan and implement strategies that improve core community  education outcomes by reducing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

“The difficult challenges we face will not be quickly or easily resolved. They require our  community to build new relationships, work across sectors, coordinate, and align. New  solutions require a willingness to change the ways we think and work. The data from our 2018  report is clear: although many core community education measures are holding steady improving for aggregate students, our system is not working for all students. There are  significant disparities in outcomes across all measures for which disaggregated data is  available and these disparities fall along racial / ethnic and socio-economic lines,” said  Wendy Poteat, Partnership Director of The Forsyth Promise.

The grant award from StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge program will  allow The Forsyth Promise to build a network of grassroots community advocates and  leaders. These grassroots leaders will share data and lived experiences to build a common  perspective of our challenges and opportunities, collaborate on identifying the most critical  issues to prioritize, and advocate and mobilize to move the needle on these community-wide  priorities for education.

The Forsyth Promise has been awarded a grant from the ​Promising Practices Fund​, which is  intended to find local projects applying bold strategies that can be spread across StriveTogether’s national network. These projects will focus on deeper community  engagement and align education with other sectors such as health, housing and  transportation. Eleven community-based organizations were awarded grants of up to $150,000 for one year.

Through the Community Challenge, up to $7 million over the next three years will fund  projects across the country that advance equity and spread bold strategies to help students  progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and a job. During this round of  grants, 10 communities also were selected for the Accelerator Fund. Communities in the  StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply for the Community Challenge.

“StriveTogether launched the Cradle to Career Community Challenge because we refuse to  settle for a world in which a child’s ability to thrive is dictated by factors like race or income,”  StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “From partners across the country, we  know the urgency of this work and the value of creating lasting change in communities. We  are proud to start this year supporting 21 cradle-to-career partnerships to get real results for  youth and families.”

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As a Collective Impact Partner of United Way of Forsyth County, the Forsyth Promise​ facilitates education-focused collaborative, community-wide planning  and action in Forsyth County, North Carolina. They provide a framework to help all community stakeholders work together toward the goal of improved educational outcomes for all  students — from cradle to career. Our core values are Educational Equity, Inclusive  Stakeholder Engagement, and Data-Driven Decision Making. For more information, visit  ForsythPromise.org.

About StriveTogether 
StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: help every child succeed in  school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance. In  partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides  resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success. The  StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.5 million students, involves 10,800  organizations, and has partners in 30 states and Washington D.C.

They left coats on trees and poles around Winston-Salem for people in need. Then they marveled at the kindness of others.

To Lois Koufman, the answer to a question that could have been answered in several ways on different levels was simple.

What possessed you to spend your afternoons buying up coats in Goodwill stores to hang in trees for homeless residents of town?

“Because it was cold outside,” she said.

Read more here

Press Release: Working Families Could Overlook Valuable Tax Credits

Free Tax Assistance Helps Winston-Salem Residents Claim Their Full Refunds

 

Winston-Salem workers could overlook important federal tax benefits because they simply don’t know about them. They could miss out on an extra income boost.

 

“The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) can make a real difference for workers who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Shirley Abdullah, Program Manager at Experiment in Self-Reliance. Experiment in Self-Reliance is offering free tax preparation services to working families at convenient locations throughout Winston-Salem. Individuals can get free help determining their EITC and CTC eligibility and claiming the credits.

 

Experiment in Self-Reliance is raising awareness of these services by hosting EITC Awareness Day on January 25, 2019 from 11:30am through 1:00pm at 3480 Dominion Street.

 

The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to qualifying lower-wage workers and their families. Workers earning less than about $50,000 from wages, self-employment, or farming in 2018 could qualify. Many people will qualify for the first time this year due to changes in their income, their marital status, or parental status, according to the IRS. The IRS estimates that four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC.

 

“We want to raise the number to five out of five,” Shirley Abdullah said. “Thanks to our trained and certified volunteer work force, we plan on assisting more than 5,000 taxpayers this year.”

 

The Child Tax Credit is available to workers who earn more than $2,500 in 2018. A qualifying child for the CTC must be under age 17.

 

A family’s tax refund also offers a chance to put some money into savings. To help families looking to save their tax refund for a rainy day, Experiment in Self-Reliance will refer interested taxpayers to asset-building programs that will help them well into the future. To have their taxes prepared, residents should bring income documents from all jobs worked throughout the year as well as their social security number, and a valid photo ID.

 

The EITC is one of the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty programs. In 2016, the EITC lifted an estimated 5.8 million people out of poverty, more than half of them children.

 

Experiment in Self-Reliance will run 10 tax sites throughout Winston-Salem. The tax sites will be open from January 22, 2019 to April 15, 2019. ESR is a United Way of Forsyth County Partner Agency.

 

For more information, call (336) 722-9400 or visit  www.eisr.org.

                                                                        Media Contact: Victoria von Dohlen

                                                                                              Number: 336-722-9400 ext. 124

                                                                                                                                Email: victoria.vondohlen@eisr.org

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ESR: Empowering Strength & Resilience

The Key to Making Any Volunteer Experience Worthwhile- Aaron Gibson

Equity is the lens through which we get the clearest picture of how to combat injustice. This requires empathizing with those experiencing an injustice, setting aside our own thoughts on the matter and living with their perspective. My volunteer experience with A Wider Circle on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2018 was a great reminder of this process.

I was assigned to measure and sort business suits that had been donated to the Bethesda-based charity’s workforce development program. To my surprise, two hours into my group’s four-hour shift, we hadn’t done a single thing. As it turns out, this was intentional.

Instead of getting right to work, a volunteer coordinator spent the first half of our shift getting to know my group and teaching us about the organization. A Wider Circle uses a holistic approach to ending poverty. Its CEO, Mark Bergel, sleeps on the floor or a couch every night to try to understand one of the greatest needs of his clients: a lack of mattresses. We toured the donation processing facility, where only high-quality furniture is accepted. At A Wider Circle, if they wouldn’t gift a donation to a family member, they won’t give it to their clients. We also learned that each person looking for a job gets five business suits free of charge because no one should have to wear the same work clothes twice in one week.

You may think a two-hour orientation was a waste of time. After all, we were there to serve—not be served. However, it created the space for us to try to have a deeper understanding and compassion for the organization’s clients. While sorting and measuring each business suit, I imagined the person receiving it, and whether or not the quality was something I would be proud to wear.

Equity is impossible to accomplish without empathy. In 1994, congress established MLK Day as a national day of service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for eradicating racist policies that plagued people of color in the United States. MLK was a champion of equity, and a master at empathizing with others to understand and vocalize their needs.

Try this the next time you volunteer 
There’s a simple exercise in empathy you can do with others or by yourself. Imagine that a volunteer is coming into your home to cook you a meal. What would be going through your head. Would you be nervous? How would you like the volunteer to treat you? How would they know what kind of food you like to eat?

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – United Way of Forsyth County Will Host Canned Food Drive to Support Second Harvest Food Bank January 21 – January 25, 2019

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service.Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”

The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

This year United Way of Forsyth County, in observance of the MLK Day of Service  is partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank for a canned food drive to help support the increased need for food in light of the Government Shutdown.  Beginning January 21 and going through Friday January 25th from 8:30-5:00 pm each day the United Way of Forsyth County will be collecting canned foods at their office at 301 N. Main Street, Winston Tower, 17th tower.

Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO notes, “We know that many of the projects started on the Day of Service engage volunteers beyond the holiday and impact our community year-round . In light of the increased need for food, we hope this project will give additional support to our partners at Second Harvest”.

For more information contact Tahja Gaymon, Engagement Manager, tahja.gaymon@uwforsyth.org.

 

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Government Shutdown: 2-1-1 Can Help

In NC, some 34,000 civilian federal workers did not receive their paychecks and we also know that here will also be a trickledown effect on other industries relying on federal workers right here in NC. Most of these impacted families and individuals have most likely never asked for help before and may be reaching out to local agencies or NC 2-1-1.

United Way’s 2-1-1 is a resource for federal workers impacted by the shutdown. Information has been posted at 211.org and shared via media, including this story on Business Newswire, https://www.businesswire.com/…/United-Worldwide-Launches-%E….
NC 2-1-1 call specialists have information about national resources being shared at http://211.org/services/govshutdown as well as a wealth of other local resources within the 2-1-1 resource database.

Specific to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, beginning Monday January 14th, the NC 2-1-1 system will include automated messaging for callers regarding SNAP (messaging provided by DHHS). “As a result of the Federal Government Shutdown, the USDA will issue Food and Nutrition Services Benefits for February 2019 early.

SNAP recipients can expect to see their February disbursement available on their EBT cards no later than January 20th. This is not an additional disbursement or bonus benefit. It is simply the February disbursement being issued early. If you have additional questions about your SNAP benefits, please dial 866-719-0141. NC 2-1-1 encourages callers to budget wisely to stretch their funds for their family. Please stay on the line if you would like to speak to an NC 2-1-1 call specialist about additional food resources in your community, such as food pantries.”

To Heal Divisions in This Country, We Need to Redefine Success

Nonprofits — along with many business and political leaders — have spent the past few years trying to heal the political, social, and economic divisions that were made more visible to all after the 2016 election.

Yet today people remain frustrated, marginalized, and worse off. The third federal government shutdown in a year and the roller-coaster stock market increased the need for nonprofits, in particular, to take a leadership role in reshaping how America works.

While many nonprofit, business, and political leaders are holding cross-cultural and community conversations to discuss what communities need, others continue to successfully exploit people’s fears for their own purposes.

One reason for the success of the latter group is the pocketbook concerns facing many American households. While U.S. gross domestic product is growing and unemployment is low, a lingering dissatisfaction reigns in many middle- and lower-income homes. At its heart, much of this discontent stems from people’s anxieties about the future of work and society.

I grew up in northwest Indiana in the 1960s and ’70s, when families could make a good living in local steel plants, oil refineries, and factories. Employees made a respectable, steady salary and believed that if they worked hard, they could provide for their families and find opportunities to advance.

Biggest Income Gap in Nearly a Century

That’s less and less the case. In the United States, the income gap is the largest since the 1920s, just before the Great Depression. Wages are stagnant, and we’re less economically mobile. Today, millennials have just a 50-50 chance of earning more than their parents did. In the 1940s, almost everyone was better off than the previous generation.

Reports about the future of work intensify concerns about jobs and mobility. While technology can create greater efficiencies, the World Economic Forum’s recently published “Future of Jobs” report says that in the next four years more than 75 million jobs may be lost as companies shift to greater automation. Today, machines or algorithms account for 29 percent of the total task hours worked in major industries. By 2022, they will handle 42 percent.

Where do people fit in as the world of work continues to change? It’s not simply a question of money but also dignity. Those Indiana steel workers possessed a strong sense of self-worth. They found purpose in what they did and believed they were powering their communities. With their job and personal security, they drove out bigots and fear-mongers who tried to sow racial and ethnic division. Today, we’re seeing a rise in ethno-nationalism and hate crimes. What will happen when more people lose work and the dignity it brings?

Solutions for All

To tackle these concerns, our society needs to redefine success. Instead of zeroing in on GDP growth rates or stock-market indexes alone, let’s focus on income inequality, access to good health care, and economic mobility. Let’s examine our education and training systems to make sure we are preparing young people — and all people — for the future of work. Let’s also not confine ourselves to standard thinking if new ideas and programs show promise, such as  advanced vocational training, guaranteed basic incomes, or opportunity zones – which were recently created to add incentives for private investment in economically distressed areas.

We must develop solutions that give all individuals greater opportunity, purpose, and self-worth. Critical to this effort will be a new success index that focuses on more than just macro-economic growth. It will weigh broad-based income distribution, personal economic and social mobility, and people’s sense of personal security and hope. Let’s call it the “Personal Prosperity and Satisfaction Index.” The Alice Projectwhich local United Ways use to find community data to address their most pressing social issues, can serve as one example.

A “we” culture once dominated U.S. society. Today, we have sunk into an “I” culture, placing too much value on what we earn or where we vacation –— and not whether more of us are happy, safe and prospering in strong communities. To defeat hate and build stronger communities, we must put people first. The dignity of work and equity must take top priority. And nonprofits must lead the way in restoring community connections by listening to people’s needs and pushing forward the best ideas.

It will take more than one election, one action, or one moment to solve this challenge. Solutions will come from a concerted and sustained effort to help more people succeed and an embrace of a new common good prepared to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

Brian Gallagher is CEO of United Way Worldwide.

Women’s Leadership Council Annual Celebration Recognizes Local Volunteers , Students and Educators

November 2, 2018 For Immediate Release
The United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council of Forsyth County held their annual celebration and awards banquet at the Millennium Center, November 1, 2018
Founded in 2007, to date they have recruited over 1,000 members and raised over $5.5 million to support United Way’s effort to increase the graduation rate in Forsyth County to 90%. Focusing their attention on middle schools, their goal is to prepare students to be successful and hit the ground running as they begin 9th grade.
This year’s celebration recognized Lucy Williams, Reynolds American as the Outstanding Volunteer. This award recognizes an outstanding individual who has given their time and talent as a leader and volunteer.  The 2018 Corporate Award, which recognized the largest number of new WLC members in the 2018 campaign year, was awarded to BB&T. The Outstanding Educator Award which recognizes an educator’s passion and dedication for educating successful youth ready to enter the world of today, was awarded to Jason Pender, Mineral Springs Middle School. The Outstanding Youth Award, which recognized a student for their growth and persistence to learn while overcoming challenges, was awarded to DaChaari Obey, Philo-Hill Magnet Academy. The 7th Annual Susan Cameron award, which honors a woman who empowers other women in the community, was awarded to Betty Lou Vontsolos, of Inmar, for her leadership and her passion for growing the impact WLC has on our community  .
United Way President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “This was a great opportunity not only to celebrate the contributions our WLC has made to the community, but to honor outstanding students, educators, volunteers, and corporations. The Women’s Leadership Council works to educate women about our community’s most pressing needs, engage women as philanthropic leaders,  and most importantly, empower women to be a part of positive change in our community”.
For more information about the Women’s Leadership Council please visit: www.forsythunitedway.org.

PRESS RELEASE: UNITED WAY OF FORSYTH COUNTY ANNOUNCES WINTER POINT IN TIME COUNT JANUARY 30, 2019

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Volunteers Will Hit the Streets to Count People Experiencing Homelessness on January 30, 2019.

Twice a year, the lives of people experiencing homelessness have a greater potential to be changed, thanks to a program coordinated by United Way of Forsyth County (UWFC)  and the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Continuum of Care.

Starting at 9 p.m. on January 30, 2019, dozens of volunteers will meet at Samaritan Ministries 414 E NW Blvd, and hit the streets throughout the night to count the number of people sleeping outside. The exercise, called Homeless PointinTime Count is a one-day, un-duplicated count of sheltered and un-sheltered homeless individuals and families that happens across the country.

The event is part of a national initiative to measure and combat chronic homelessness. The goal is to give the local and federal government an idea of how many people are experiencing homelessness in the area, and to make sure there are enough appropriate services to help them.

Organizers will be assembling bags of necessities to hand out to homeless men and women and are seeking donations of winter hats, scarves, hand warmers, individual tissue packets, chapstick, sun screen, bottled water, canned foods with pop-tops or pre-packaged food, plastic utensils, and blankets.

For more information or to register to volunteer, contact Kathleen Wiener at Kathleen.Wiener@uwforsyth.org or 336.721.9378

Sign up: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07efy0m217e5414f48&oseq=&c=&ch=

Governor’s Office Partners with No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Leadership Institute to Expand Access to School Breakfast in 10 School Districts

A new grant program will help expand school breakfast access in ten North Carolina School Districts, Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper announced today. As part of the 2018-19 Breakfast After the Bell Initiative, 10 North Carolina school districts will receive grant funding through No Kid Hungry and The Dairy Alliance to implement innovative breakfast programs in one or more schools each.

“Studies have shown that kids who start the day with breakfast perform better at school and have fewer discipline problems,” said Governor Cooper. “Making school breakfast universal and more easily accessible reduces the stigma.”

“We’re committed to ending childhood hunger in North Carolina,” said First Lady Kristin Cooper. “This grant will help ensure students have easy access to breakfast so they can start their day ready to learn, and we would like to see these efforts expanded to support the academic, social-emotional, and health benefits that eating breakfast brings.”

The program means grants totaling approximately $105,000 are being awarded to the following ten public school districts in North Carolina: Anson County Schools, Cabarrus County Schools, Cumberland County Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Gaston County Schools, Johnston County Schools, Kannapolis City Schools, Public Schools of Robeson County, Wayne County Public Schools, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Each participating school district will receive between approximately $8,000 and $12,276.

These ten school districts were deemed eligible based on specific criteria set by the North Carolina School Breakfast Leadership Team using NC Department of Public Instruction meal claim data for the 2017-18 school year. The districts selected to participate also demonstrate the opportunity to increase school breakfast participation.

Breakfast After the Bell Models include: 
Breakfast in the Classroom: Students eat breakfast in their classroom after the official start of the school day. On average, schools reach 88 percent breakfast participation with this model.

Grab and Go to the Classroom:
Students pick up conveniently packaged breakfast items from mobile carts in high traffic areas, such as hallways or entryways, and eat their meals in the classroom or designated common areas.

Second Chance Breakfast: 
Second Chance Breakfast is particularly effective for middle and high school students. Students eat breakfast during a break in the morning, often between first and second period. Schools can use an innovative breakfast service model or open their cafeterias during this break.

School Nutrition Managers will monitor implementation and progress of the new breakfast service model within each school. Superintendents, School Nutrition Administrators, Principals, and other school leaders will also provide support.

Almost 60 percent of students in North Carolina qualify for free and reduced meals at school, but only 42 percent of those students eat school breakfast. Innovative Breakfast After the Bell models, such as Breakfast in the Classroom or Grab and Go, are cost-effective, efficient, and remove stigma to ensure more students start their day with a healthy meal.

The School Breakfast Leadership Institute will help school districts take advantage of federal funds, grant opportunities, and other resources to ensure all students begin their day fueled to learn.

The North Carolina School Breakfast Leadership Team consists of representatives from: the Office of the Governor of North Carolina; the Office of the First Lady of North Carolina; the NC Department of Public Instruction’s School Nutrition Services; No Kid Hungry NC; and Bladen County Schools.