Press Release: Reynolds American, Inc, BB&T, HanesBrands and Inmar Receive United Way Spirit of North Carolina Awards

Winston Salem, NC  – Reynolds American, Inc (Manufacturing 2501-5000 Employees), BB&T, (Financial/Banking Institution 2501-5000 Employees), HanesBrands (Retail 1501-2500 Employees and Inmar, Inc (Professional Services 501-1000 Employees) have each been awarded the annual Spirit of NC Award.

 

On a yearly basis, United Way of North Carolina recognizes organizations that have succeeded in raising funds to support their community and have dedicated themselves to being part of the long-term solution to build stronger communities.  Judges from across North Carolina reviewed more than 50 applications to select winners who were honored in Pinehurst at the Spirit of North Carolina Award Lunch on February 13.

 

Leading beyond the traditional fundraising campaign, these winners created opportunities to educate employees on community needs, led by those at the top of the organizational chart; motivated campaign participants to give by exposing them to real stories of need; and provided volunteer opportunities so that donors could offer their knowledge and their hands to serve their community.

 

“The Spirit of North Carolina Award recognizes the collaborative partnerships United Way of Forsyth County builds with its supporters,” said Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO of United Way of Forsyth County.  “We are honored to have Reynolds American, BB&T, HanesBrands and Inmar, Inc. as  key stakeholders for a shared future where everyone in our community thrives and reaches their full potential.”

 

Winners were determined by a panel of 24 judges from United Way organizations across the state. For more information about the Spirit of North Carolina Award and a complete list of winners, visit unitedwaync.org/spirit-north-carolina-award-winners.

 

Press Release: Weston Award for Nonprofits to Increase to $50,000

February 12, 2019- WINSTON-SALEM, NC : Weston Award for Nonprofits to Increase to $50,000

The Joel and Claudette Weston Award has honored and recognized leadership and excellence in nonprofit management at local organizations for more than 30 years.  Joel A. Weston, Jr. was a senior executive at the Hanes Companies and an active member of the Winston-Salem community.   He served as president of the United Way of Forsyth County Board from 1980-1982. Joel believed strongly that nonprofit organizations should be well run and efficient and he introduced many innovative programs designed to strengthen charitable organizations and the community.   He passed away unexpectedly in 1984.  The Weston Award Endowment was founded in 1985 at The Winston-Salem Foundation by family and friends of Joel A. Weston as a way to honor his vision and dedication to the community.   In 1985 the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence was established to recognize local human service agencies that are performing at peak efficiency.  Today, Joel’s widow, Claudette Weston, continues the family tradition of community involvement and philanthropy through her efforts on numerous boards and organizations and as a member of the Weston Award Committee.

 

What is The Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management?

Every other year any nonprofit agency in Forsyth County can submit an application to win the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence.  An agency that wins the award must wait five years to apply again. The application is a rigorous evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management: financial and personnel management, program development and effectiveness, long range planning, marketing, fund-raising, board development, etc.

All applications are reviewed by a 16 member Weston Award committee.  In addition, the committee hears an oral presentation by representatives of each applicant agency.  Site visits are included in the review process if necessary.   The winner is presented with the prestigious and much coveted bi-annual award, and beginning in 2019, a grant award to the organization of $50,000. 

What does the Weston Award Accomplish?

The Weston Award recognizes, affirms, encourages and financially supports the best- run charitable organization in Forsyth County as selected every other year by the Weston Award Committee.  The Award is a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management.   In filling out the award application, nonprofit organizations can assess and receive feedback on how their agency measures up against best practices in human service agency management.  The award promotes efficiency, competence, fiscal integrity, innovation and program effectiveness.  Nonprofit management excellence in turn equates to a community that can better help its most vulnerable citizens, maximize philanthropy and enhance quality of life for all.

“Joel and I always believed in giving back to the community. The spirit of this award is to honor non-profits or social services organizations that enhance lives, but do so with the most efficiency,” said Claudette Weston.

 

“The Joel Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management had a tremendous impact on me as a leader and on the agency that I represented.  I can’t say enough about the good that it has accomplished.” Richard Gottlieb, President emeritus, Senior Services

 

For more information: Noelle Stevenson at noelle.stevenson@uwforsyth.org

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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.

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.

Press Release: United Way Forsyth County is Awarded Prestigious Whitney M. Young Award for Place Matters

On Saturday, October 21 at 7 pm, the Winston-Salem Urban League hosted the 2017 Whitney M. Young Gala. The event, sponsored by Food Lion, Reynolds American/British American Tobacco, AT&T and others recognized business and community pioneers in the Triad community and launched the Winston-Salem Urban League’s (WSUL) Advisory Board.

The 2017 Whitney M. Young Award was awarded to United Way Forsyth County’s Place Matters Program. The Program focuses on 13 neighborhoods in northeast Winston-Salem to impact Education, Financial Stability, Health and Basic Needs. In 2016, United Way of Forsyth County invested $2.7 Million in 22 programs focused on strengthening the Place Matters neighborhoods. These are innovative, collaborative initiatives that engage existing community assets, especially the residents themselves, to further enhance these neighborhoods and the lives of those who live there.

The Whitney M. Young award is the most prestigious given by Urban League Boards across the country.

United Way President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “We are extremely grateful and honored for this recognition. Through Place Matters, United Way is focused on improving how we work by developing solutions with residents and funding a number of innovative programs that are strengthening assets and improving lives.”

Chief Impact Officer Debbie Wilson notes, ” This is such a wonderful honor for a program that truly empowers residents to impact where they live and build better futures.”

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

 

Volunteers Feeding Bellies and Brains to Help Middle Schoolers Thrive

Middle school kids go through profound physical, emotional and social changes, and it can be a rough time for them, their parents and caregivers, and teachers, too. Research shows that strengthening the middle grades experience is critical for improving high school graduation rates.  Read more