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=

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

The Forsyth Promise Receives $456,500 Grant for Data-Sharing Project

The Forsyth Promise (The Promise) is pleased to announce that it has received a grant to support a student-centric community data sharing platform from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

 The award from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (The Trust), in the amount of $456,500, will fund the continuation of a student-centric data sharing platform between The Promise and Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools. Forsyth Futures serves as the data and research management partner on the project. The Data Sharing Project, currently in year one of its pilot phase, integrates key information on student attendance and performance in school with key information about their participation in extracurricular enrichment programs. At scale, this program will allow school system administrators and community program planners to begin to understand the impact that their services are having on children in the classroom.

Wendy Poteat-Spicer, Partnership Director of The Forsyth Promise, explains, “In making a strategic investment in the data sharing project, we are investing in our ability to understand the best and most effective services and interventions to change the lives of students in need in a dramatically positive way. This insight allows us to focus on what’s working for Forsyth County’s kids and allows our funding dollars to go further.”

At the time of writing, the data sharing project is in year one of a pilot phase with schools and community agencies in Forsyth County and will move into an expansion phase in late Summer / early Fall. Funding from the Trust will be used to support technical operations, program coordination, and program evaluation support for participating schools and agencies.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of financially-disadvantaged residents in North Carolina. The Heath Improvement in North Carolina program area supports community-wide health solutions across the state. The Local Impact in Forsyth County program area fosters equitable and sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life in Forsyth County. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. serves as a sole trustee.

 

The Forsyth Promise (The Promise) is an education-focused, cradle-to-career community partnership working to ensure that every child in Forsyth County has the chance to thrive in school, in work, and in life.  The Promise shines a light on what’s working well for kids, encourages focus on common goals and outcomes, and aligns our community’s resources and practices to ensure the best educational outcomes for Forsyth County’s children.

Yesterday’s Progress Should Inspire Today’s Work

There is a lot of troubling news in the world today. Terrorism, inequality and distrust are just a few that come to mind. But when you dig further, you also see encouraging signs.

I recently came across a blog from Ben Carlson on his site, A Wealth of Common Sense. Ben and I share a similar perspective, and his blog highlights many good examples that remind us how far we’ve come.

For example:

  • 200 years ago, 85% of the world population lived in extreme poverty. 20 years ago, it was 29%. Today, only 9% live in extreme poverty.
  • The average American now retires at age 62. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51.
  • The U.S. high school graduation rate was just 9% in 1910. It jumped to 52% by 1940 and 83% today.

If these figures blow your mind, I’m not surprised. These examples don’t fit into the narrative broadcast by those who believe the world is spiraling out of control.

Of course, there is a lot of truth to concerns about growing inequality, our readiness for the jobs of the future, and the increasing failures of government – particularly at the national level. As a result, optimism and trust are declining in many parts of the world.

Surveys today typically find that only a small fraction of Americans trust the federal government to do the right thing. Yet more than 70 percent trusted their local government as of a couple years ago.

These numbers make me optimistic, because they present an opportunity for a bottom-up, community-based approach to improve our society.

It’s an approach where people stop shouting past one another and instead listen and attend town council meetings to discuss improving schools and public safety.

It’s an approach where people connect and find common ground that leads to real, scalable impact.

And it’s an approach where our newfound trust and progress creates opportunities for change at higher levels of society, including the national level.

If that sounds a lot like United Way’s model, that’s because it is. We’ve been bringing people together in communities around the world for more than a century. Today’s environment, where trust in local organizations is greater than in national institutions, offers a critical moment to make an impact.

There is still a lot of work to do. The richest one percent of the world controls half its wealth. American millennials today are far less likely than previous generations to out-earn their parents. And our education systems continue to leave too many young people behind.

But it’s graduation season. A time to believe in what we can achieve, both individually and together. So let me end with these reminders:

Let’s continue to believe in the power of communities and the progress we’re making.

Let’s continue to understand the work left to do on behalf of people and communities.

And let’s remain optimistic that people can – and will continue to – come together to change the world.

When You Invest in Your Community, You Invest in Yourself

“Givers gain.”

That phrase was racing through my mind as I put on my “Live United” t-shirt, scanned the conference room and listened to the Rappahannock United Way staff explain the logistics of the sort-a-thon. I was surrounded by Fredericksburg, Virginia, residents, all of whom were eager to sort children’s books, divvy up school supplies and create “kits” to help kids prepare for the school year ahead.

Once a month, United Way Worldwide employees can spend a day volunteering. It’s an opportunity for us to extend our support beyond helping the network from afar—to join the “boots on the ground.” I chose to lace my boots and contribute to my local United Way’s school readiness efforts. Rappahannock United Way is doing great work in the education space. When I heard about their sort-a-thon, I decided to contribute. I expected to give my time, and what I got was far more valuable.

The conference room was a bibliophile’s dream. There must have been a hundred books on tabletops, with volunteers organizing each. Nick, a Marine from nearby Marine Corps Base Quantico, drove 30 minutes to participate, and he was enjoying every second of it.

“I heard about the event from a volunteer coordinator on base,” said Nick. “I’m big into reading, and I like to support anything that has to do with youth and literature.”

Once the books were sorted and labeled, they were handed over to a crew of kit creators. Bags were filled with miscellaneous school items—from markers to notebooks—and given one book each before being set aside. It was a well-oiled assembly line of goodwill. I manned the supplies line, doling out cardboard paper for future coloring. To my right, a woman was talking about inspiring her sons to volunteer. Another woman, Geetha, commented on early learning.

“The beginning part of a child’s education is the most important,” said Geetha, a former nutritionist for Head Start. “Each month they don’t get the right education, they’re set back two months.”

All in all, the sort-a-thon was a hit, with dozens of people coming together to create hundreds of kits and set underprivileged children up for success. Personally, I was given a valuable reminder: Anything is possible when you combine your heart with hard work. Volunteering doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be arduous, and you don’t need to be an expert. You just need to act.

One decision, one hour, one moment—you’ll get back tenfold what you give.

#ThankaTeacher

Most of us can rattle off the names of each of our teachers from grade school through high school. And there’s good reason – teachers make a lasting, positive impression on countless young minds every day.

For many communities, teachers are a student’s mentor, friend and cheerleader. They often provide their class with necessary supplies, extra snacks and friendly encouragement. Without a doubt, teachers are an important part of raising healthy and educated children.

Recent research shows the average teacher spends almost $500 a year on classroom supplies, from decorations to tissues and pencils. Almost 20 percent of teachers report having a second job outside of the classroom. And, for most teachers, the average starting salary is just $38,617. Given all the challenges that our nation’s teachers face every day when educating the next generation, we’ve rounded up a list of ways you can thank a teacher in your community during Teacher Appreciation Week:

  1. Consider funding a local classroom project on DonorsChoose.org. The organization connects teachers in high-need communities with donors who want to help. Projects can range from distributing basic art supplies to iPads for the classroom.
  2. Connect with your child’s school PTA group and offer to collect supplies or funds for their classroom, or even offer to clean or help decorate their classroom. Every teacher appreciates when parents or caretakers can pitch in a few hours.
  3. Offer to cater lunch for teachers at a local school on a Friday. They’ll appreciate the break, and it’s a great way to get involved as a local business.
  4. Send a handwritten note of appreciation to your child’s teacher. A simple note can help brighten a teacher’s day.
  5. Consider nominating your child’s teacher for a local, state or national award. Many educational organizations have award programs, including the National Teacher’s Hall of Fame and the National Teacher of the Year Award.