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.

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.

After Logging 10,000 Hours at a Crisis Call Center, Here’s What I’ve Learned

As published in Oprah Magazine : https://www.oprahmag.com/life/health/a25416643/what-a-suicide-crisis-counselor-does/

I have worked at a 2-1-1 Big Bend, a crisis center and information referral line in Tallahassee, Florida, since 2000.

I’ve logged about 10,000 hours on hotlines, but I still never know what to expect when the phone rings. My goal, however, is always the same: Make an authentic connection.

My goal is always the same: Make an authentic connection.

But there are instances where the first thing someone says is, “I’ve got a gun. I’m going to kill myself. What are you going to do to make me change my mind?”

That situation needs a different tactic. I might say, “It sounds like you’ve made up your mind, but I just picked up the phone. What about giving me a moment to hear what you’re going through?”

The holidays aren’t busier than any other time of year, but we do see spikes after high-profile suicides or a large crisis. When Hurricane Michael hit Florida in October, we had a 400 percent increase in calls.

Normally, we don’t hang up until a positive outcome, like a caller’s promise not to harm himself.

And I don’t spend every second of my day trying to keep someone in crisis alive. We have “active” callers who are lonely and just want to connect with another human being. We also hear from people looking for resources or food.

That’s how I came to the hotline. Twenty-five years ago, I was in a diving accident that broke my neck. I called for information about transportation, but the young woman who answered just knew I needed to talk. We had an hour-long conversation, and she helped me get back on my feet, so to speak. This work still fills my cup all the time.

United Way and Nest Provide Energy Assistance With ‘Keep Your Neighbors Warm’

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—United Way Worldwide announced today that it is partnering with Nest, a leading manufacturer of smart home products – including thermostats – for “Keep your Neighbors Warm,” a campaign that supports United Way’s efforts to provide energy assistance through the critical 2-1-1 service in communities nationwide.

“Keep Your Neighbors Warm” is part of Nest’s Power Project, a platform backed by Google’s sustainability initiatives that is aimed at helping low to moderate income customers dealing with high-energy costs. Those who wish to donate should visit Nest.com/powerproject, or text WARMTH to 40403.

Energy assistance ranks as the second highest request nationally made to the 2-1-1 network with 1.7 million calls in 2017 from people across the United States seeking help paying their utility or energy bills.

Donations to the campaign will provide capacity-building support for the 2-1-1 network, including investments in artificial intelligence, texting hotlines, and website enhancements, to serve more people in need of energy assistance.

“We are grateful to Google, Nest and the ‘Keep Your Neighbors Warm’ campaign for raising awareness about – and supporting solutions for – a crisis facing millions of households every year,” said Rachel Krausman, Senior Director of 2-1-1, United Way Worldwide. “The campaign gives people a vehicle to support United Way and 2-1-1, so we can continue the fight for the health – and warmth – of the communities that we serve.”

About 2-1-1
2-1-1 is a free, confidential service that connects individuals to resources and services in their local communities by phone, text and on the web. In 2017, the 2-1-1 network responded to more than 14 million requests for assistance. The service is available to 94 percent of the U.S. population, including Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and is also available in most of Canada. Individuals in need or who are looking for information for someone else can dial 211 from a cell phone or landline to reach a community specialist or visit 211.org for more contact options.

United Way #1 on Forbes Lists of Top Charities

The end of the year is traditionally a time of giving to relatives, friends and charity. To help you with the charitable part, Forbes presents a special package of advice on how to make the most of your donor dollars.

The centerpiece is our 20th annual list of the 100 largest U.S. charities, compiled once again by William P. Barrett. This elite group together received $49 billion in gifts, a whopping 12% of the $410 billion taken in by the country’s 1 million-plus nonprofits. We evaluate each on several financial-efficiency metrics. In a separate story, Barrett describes Forbes’ methodology and how it can be used to evaluate any charity, large or small, as well as how to check out those organizations that make cold-calls to your home asking for money. Rather give to the little guy than the charitable powerhouses? In this package, Kelly Erb begins her annual series—The 12 Days of Charitable Giving—highlighting small, reader-nominated organizations doing good work. First up: a Los Angeles not-for-profit that helps low-income women deal with tax problems and the IRS.

In addition to picking worthy charities, you can maximize your charitable impact by making Uncle Sam your partner; after all, if you get a tax break for giving, you can afford to give more. The new tax law makes it tougher to benefit from the itemized deduction for charitable giving, but in a separate story Erb offers 14 tips on how even ordinary taxpayers can still qualify. Meanwhile, Ashlea Ebelingand Martin Shenkman describe smart strategies for wealthy donors who want to make large gifts—now and in their estate plans.

Read more here

Farm Bill Update

On December 12, 2018, Congress crossed the finish line on a final bipartisan Farm Bill, with the House voting in support of the bill 369-47 on the heels of the Senate’s passage, 87-13. The final bill largely resembles the bipartisan SNAP provisions in the original Senate bill that the United Way network strongly championed throughout 2018.

The Farm Bill conference report preserves access to nutritious food for those who need it most by keeping the current SNAP eligibility requirements and work provisions and maintaining state flexibility. It also makes incremental changes that support work by strengthening the SNAP E&T program and its connection to employers and existing workforce infrastructure, and improving program integrity by modernizing verification systems and instituting checks to prevent duplicate receipt of benefits across states. ‘

We celebrate this victory as a bipartisan win that helps children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and working Americans keep food on the table.

Lyft Helps Unemployed Mom Pursue Life-Changing Job

Think about the last job interview you had. Did you worry about how to get there and if you’d make it on time? Most of us simply hop in the car or take public transportation without a second thought. But for many Americans, particularly those in major metro cities, landing a job interview is only the first of many painstaking steps to actually getting a job.

When Jane* called 2-1-1 last month, she was out of options. A single mom of two young children living in Cleveland, she was unemployed and facing possible eviction. She’d lost her job in January and was paying rent using her federal income tax refund, which was running out. When she finally landed a job interview, she didn’t have the money to get to and from the interview. Without a car or easy and inexpensive public transportation, she was in a catch-22. Luckily, 2-1-1 Cleveland had access to free Lyft rides through a new partnership between the ride-sharing company and United Way. When Jane explained her dilemma, the 2-1-1 specialist assured her that she could provide her with roundtrip transportation at no cost.

 

Read more here.

All Hands on Deck for Student Success

Now more than ever, youth are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles when it comes to accessing higher education or landing a job. College costs are increasing, making it difficult to benefit from postsecondary schooling, and still more students are lacking the necessary skills for quality, sustainable employment.

In California, Orange County United Way is making higher education a reality through Destination Graduation. The program aims to reduce high school dropout rates, while bridging the education achievement gap for middle and high school students in high-need districts. Based in 12 high schools and 10 middle schools, Destination Graduation has prepared more than 26,000 low-income students with the skills they need to compete in the global economy.

And in Boston, high school students are sharpening their business skills with the help of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Through Youth Venture, a civic engagement and entrepreneurship program, young people develop and implement their own business ideas to improve their communities.

From career expos and afterschool mentorships, to financial management and college readiness courses, United Ways are providing myriad opportunities for youth to learn and grow. And you can do your part to help! By reaching out to your local United Way, you can find out where your support is needed most. Explore the possibilities. You don’t need a background in education or social work to make a mark. All you need is a willingness to give back. Visit your local United Way’s website to learn how they’re assisting kids right in your own community. Often, there will be opportunities listed for volunteers interested in donating their time or services.

  1. Wear your mentorship hat. Sometimes, all students need is someone to listen and support them as they navigate through their educational journey. As a volunteer mentor, you can use your experiences to inspire them to maximize their potential and reach for the stars. Your local United Way can help by pairing you with local students seeking mentorship.

 

  1. Suggest a career day. Ask your company if they would be willing to host a career day. Not only will senior leadership get the chance to communicate the value of your industry to potential future employees, but local youth will get an important glimpse into what it’s like working in a full-time job, giving them context for the future.

Connect with your local United Way today to learn how you can support the youth in your community.