Project Blueprint

Project Blueprint is a leadership development program designed to increase representation of underrepresented groups on local nonprofit boards and committees. The program consists of a series of training sessions that introduce participants to the roles and responsibilities of a nonprofit board while developing their skills to help them become successful board members.  United Way Worldwide launched Project Blueprint in 1987 as a pilot program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the first Project Blueprint class from United Way of Forsyth County graduated in 1992.  Since then over 200 individuals have graduated from the program.  Project Blueprint is now a partnership between United Way of Forsyth County and HandsOn Northwest North Carolina.

 

 

Goals.  Project Blueprint seeks to:

  • Recruit volunteers from underrepresented populations for involvement in nonprofit organizations
  • Develop and improve leadership skills
  • Improve service delivery through volunteer involvement in the workplace and community at large
  • Ensure that local volunteer leadership is more reflective of our diverse community
  • Create a network of ethnically and culturally diverse professionals
  • Place program graduates on local nonprofit boards or committees where they can use their knowledge and skills to serve their community

Eligibility.  Project Blueprint seeks applicants who:

  • Are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • Exhibit or have the potential for leadership
  • Show an interest in community involvement and a desire to serve and strengthen our community
  • Will to commit to serve on a nonprofit board of directors or committee upon graduation from the program

What You Can Expect:

  • Acquire knowledge and skills needed to effectively serve on a nonprofit board or board committee
  • Build a peer group of other civic minded persons
  • Help with placement on a nonprofit board

Program.  Recruitment for the next Project Blueprint class begins in November and continues through the application deadline of February 16, 2018.  Class size is limited to ensure a high quality experience and more meaningful networking.  A half day orientation event will be held on March 14.  This event is followed by 9 consecutive classes that will meet each Tuesday, March 13-May 22 from 12-2 pm.  The program closely follows the Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, published by BoardSource, a nationally recognized organization dedicated to increasing nonprofit board governance.  Participants are also required to attend a Nonprofit Board Speed Dating event on Tuesday, May 22, to talk with various nonprofits about board and board committee opportunities.  All classes include a networking lunch.

Requirements. Participants are expected to attend all classes, so check your calendar to make sure the dates and times do not conflict with other commitments.  You may miss only one class in order to graduate from the program.  If more than one class is missed, you will be required to repeat the entire program.

Location.  Training sessions will be held at The Winston-Salem Foundation building, located at 751 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem, 27101, on the 3rd floor in the Neill Board Room.

Cost.  The cost to participate in the program is $75 per person and is due by March 13, 2018.  Many companies sponsor their employees’ tuition, but a limited number of partial scholarships are available.  For information on scholarships, please email KathyDavis@HandsOnNWNC.org.

New Survey Finds Majority of Millennials Stress Over Filing Taxes

new survey, conducted by United Way Worldwide, finds that 74 percent of millennial respondents indicate they felt some level of stress around filing their returns. The survey of over 1,000 millennials (those between the ages of 18-36) reveals that common stressors include making a mistake (48 percent) and not getting a full refund (23 percent).

Additionally, the survey found that millennials are not claiming the tax credits that they have earned. Fifty percent of those surveyed did not claim any tax credits last year; 67 percent of respondents were interested in learning more about tax credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

United Way is proud to partner with H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) to provide MyFreeTaxes, a valuable tool that can ease the stress of tax season by helping filers claim the tax credits for which they qualify. MyFreeTaxes is a free, easy and safe tool for anyone earning less than $66,000 to file federal and state taxes.

“United Way’s free tax preparation service, MyFreeTaxes, is the longest standing service provided by a nonprofit,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. “Our mission is to help every person in every community achieve financial stability. With so many millennials experiencing stress during tax season, we encourage them – and any qualifying individual – to use our free and easy tax preparation service. The tool will help them claim all the credits they deserve and save on tax filing fees in order to pay down debt, increase savings and reduce the stress they feel around tax season.”

MyFreeTaxes is completely free for households that earned less than $66,000 in 2017. United Way and longtime partner, H&R Block, have provided free tax filing services for federal and state taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 2009, helping almost one million taxpayers claim every tax deduction and credit for which they are eligible. These tax deductions and credits lead to refunds, totaling $180 million since 2009, that enable individuals and families to improve their financial stability by putting more money back in their pockets. United Way believes that people everywhere should have an opportunity to advance their economic status and is proud to partner with H&R Block to provide a valuable tool to help people better manage their money and get on more solid financial ground.

MyFreeTaxes

Qualifying filers, those earning less than $66,000, can enter data into a secure website, MyFreeTaxes.com, anytime, from anywhere, making it easy to update the documents from home, at work or on mobile devices. The service also includes a helpline, 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, which operates through April 30 from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm EST Monday through Friday and noon to 9:00 pm EST Saturday.  The website also provides a live chat function. MyFreeTaxes is provided by United Way and H&R Block, which offers safe and secure software and guarantees that tax returns are 100 percent accurate.

About United Way Worldwide

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.

About H&R Block

H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE:HRB) is a global consumer tax services provider. Tax return preparation services are provided by professional tax preparers in approximately 12,000 company-owned and franchise retail tax offices worldwide, and through H&R Block tax software products for the DIY consumer. H&R Block also offers adjacent Tax Plus products and services. In fiscal 2017, H&R Block had annual revenues of over $3 billion with 23 million tax returns prepared worldwide. For more information, visit the H&R Block Newsroom.

MEDIA CONTACT

Southerlyn Reisig, United Way
southerlyn.reisig@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703.836.7100 ext.321

Christine Sanchez, United Way
christine.sanchez@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703-836-7100 ext. 564

Susan Waldron, H&R Block
susan.waldron@hrblock.com
Tel. 816-854-5522

The Powerful Questions behind Jeff Bezos’ Philanthropy Tweet

In mid-June, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shook things up – again.

I’m not talking about Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, although in many places that is a big deal.

I’m talking about Bezos’ tweet on June 15th, when he asked for ideas for his emerging philanthropy strategy.  Jeff said he spends most of his time working on ‘the long-term,’ but for philanthropy, he’s interested in the other end of the spectrum: the ‘right now.’

Jeff’s 140-character request gets at the heart of philanthropy.  How best can we create a happier and healthier society?  How do we balance support for urgent need with long-term solutions that attack root causes?

United Way works on both ends of this spectrum.  We support food kitchens, homeless shelters and health clinics.  We also bring community, business and government leaders together to examine long-term problems, like the jobs-skills divide, and find solutions that could take years to bear fruit.  Yet when they do, they create widespread positive change.

In response to Jeff’s tweet, I asked him to consider long-term needs in his philanthropy strategy.  One-hundred forty characters didn’t fully capture what I wanted to say, so I followed up with a letter.

In my letter, I told Jeff that he’s the kind of disrupting force that philanthropy needs.  He didn’t build Amazon into one of the world’s most powerful, game-changing companies without thinking about how technology would affect our lives or how we prefer to consume.  That’s why I think he should embrace a similar way of thinking when it comes to helping people lead better lives.

I asked Jeff, who started Amazon when the internet was in its infancy and now runs a revolutionary aerospace company, to ponder questions like these:

  • What systems can we change to help millions of people, not hundreds?
  • What partners can we cultivate to develop new technologies that allow people to do things like learn more – and learn faster?
  • What barriers can we break that keep us from coming together to solve our most difficult challenges?

In other words, I’m hoping Jeff is willing to disrupt philanthropy for the better.  Of course, he should address the many immediate needs facing our society – and his tweet received some great responses to that effect – but I’m hoping he’ll also apply his talents and experiences in creative, long-term ways.

I’m hopeful that Jeff will reply and ask how we can work together.  But I also want to know what you think.  How should non-profits and philanthropists balance short- and long-term needs?  How can philanthropy be ‘disrupted’ for the better?  How could technology play a part?

By BRIAN GALLAGHER , CEO, United Way Worldwide

Financial Stability: Ways to save for the future

Saving for the Future

How can you think about saving for the future when you have student loan debt, a car loan, credit cards or maybe all of these?  Saving for the future may be an idea that is hard to digest but it is one that is important to consider.  You may have dreams…of travel, getting married, or buying your own home.  Starting to save today will help you realize those dreams in the future.

To get where you want to go, you must first start by taking a look at where you are.  The best way to do that is by tracking your income and spending for a number of months until you start to notice the trends of how you spend your money.  Three months of tracking is a good place to start.  Track all of the income that you receive each month, through your steady job as well as any side jobs that you may have. Then track your spending.  Start with food and medicine, as they are the most important to your survival.  Then note your housing and transportation costs.  And don’t forget to track expenses that are not so predictable, like hobbies and entertainment.  By tracking your income and spending, you will have a good sense of where your money comes and goes.

Do the ways that you spend your money reflect your values? Help you to achieve your goals?  If the answer is yes, then keep doing what you are doing.  If the answer is no, then it may be time to reconsider the expense and make the changes necessary to align your spending with your values and goals.

You may need to make more room in your budget for saving.  Look at some of your larger expenses first. Housing tends to be one of the largest expenses in people’s budgets. Are you paying more than you should for housing in your area?  Maybe you can move to a smaller space, get a roommate, or move in with family for a period of time. Transportation costs can also grab a large percentage of your budget.  If you have your own car you are likely paying a car loan as well as insurance, gas and maintenance. Is is really necessary to own your own car? Is there reliable public transportation where you live and work?  Can you get by using public transportation along with the occasional ride share?  Reducing transportation costs can go a long way towards helping you save for other goals.

Then, look at your debt payments.  Interest payments add up over time and can take a big bite out of your budget.  If you are making minimum payments on your credit cards consider making higher monthly payments with a goal of eventually paying your credit card bills in full each month.  Also, take a look at your student loan payments.  Graduates are automatically set up in standard ten-year repayment terms that can be difficult to pay each month.  If that is the case for you then contact your loan servicer to discuss other repayment options.

What are your goals?

It is easier to stay on track with saving if there is something you want to save for.  To reach a SMART goal, you will need to make a plan. The framework SMART stands for:

  • Specific – clearly define your goal, including a timeframe for achieving it.
  • Measurable – if your goal involves a financial commitment, you can measure progress by how much you saved toward it.
  • Attainable – is acheving your goal more important than the time, effort, and money it will take, compared to all of your other obligations and priorities?
  • Relevant – why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?
  • Timely – assigning a deadline for your goal will motivate you and keep you accountable.

Applying SMART Goals to your dreams brings them from the abstract to the concrete. It gives you a timetable by which you can achieve them. If discover that your goals isn’t as realistic as you once thought, you can change the scope or timeline to make it a goal that you can attain.

Automate, automate, automate

There is a saying that you should “pay yourself first.”  But how can you do that when there are so many other spending priorities competing for your attention?  The easiest way to do that is to automate your savings. You can use either direct deposit or an automatic transfer from checking to savings each month.  Start small:  an automatic transfer of $10 each week will grow your savings balance to $500 within a year and $1,000 by the end of the second year.

For more tools and resources click here.