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.

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.

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 Recognizes Campaign Volunteers and Partner Agencies at Award Ceremony

WINSTON-SALEM, NC –  United Way Forsyth County Recognizes Campaign Volunteers and Partner Agencies  at Award Ceremony

On May 3, 2018, The United Way of Forsyth County hosted a thank you and award ceremony honoring partners, staff, volunteers and donors for their work during the 2017 campaign at the Center for Design Innovation.

Winners included:

Laura Harrell, Hall of Fame Award, Twin City Warehouse/Adele Knits- recognized for her thirty years of service as a campaign chair.

Wake Forest University, Personal Touch Award; Barbara Walker, the 2017 Campaign Chair, was also recognized for her hard work and organization of a successful campaign.

Campaign Chair of the Year Award: Dave Riser, Reynolds American Inc.; Riser was recognized for being instrumental in Reynolds American’s campaign which reached a goal of 2.2 million dollars.

Shining Star Award: Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC; Goodwill was recognized as a partner agency and true advocate for the United Way.

Advocates of the Year: Jennie Grant- Heaton, BB&T , Trisha Coleman, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center; as leaders of our Young Leaders United and Women’s Leadership Council affinity groups.

Leader of the Year: Tony Smits John Deere-Hitachi, recognized for the company’s 65% participation rate and 31% increase campaign dollars raised.

Spirit of the Community Award: Quality Oil-recognizing their leadership as keen advocates and supporters of the United Way.

Special Guest Speakers included Andrea Kurtz, Senior Director, Housing Strategies who updated the attendees on the progress of the ten-year plan to end chronic homelessness. In 2006, the city of Winston-Salem, and Forsyth County adopted the Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. United Way of Forsyth County was chosen for its expertise and capacity to leverage community resources, coordinate collaborative projects and improve the system for all people experiencing a housing crisis. Since 2006, Chronic Veteran Homelessness has been eradicated and the number of the chronic homeless has been reduced from over 200 in 2006 to 17 (as documented in the January, 2018 Point in Time Count). Kurtz noted, “We continue to work towards a day when individuals are referred to their talents and contributions and not their housing status.”

Denita Mitchell, Program Director and former Client of the YWCA Hawley House spoke about her own recovery from substance abuse and how she moved from being a client of the Hawley House program to a member of the leadership team.  “I am very thankful to the United Way for supporting a program that helped me make a difference in my life”.

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer noted, “One thing every strong community needs is a strong United Way. We are very fortunate to have a large network of partners that work with us collaboratively to ensure our entire community has access to a good life, as well as  our community volunteers who advocate passionately for those most in need. Thank you joining us in celebrating what it means to Live United over the past 95 years”.

 

Pictured: l-r: Dave Riser, VP External Relations, Reynolds American, Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO, United Way Forsyth County,  Dr. John D. McConnell, CEO Emeritus , Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

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

 

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Pilot Project Embraces Executive-Skills Coaching for Young People

Executive-skills coaching — which helps individuals set goals, develop plans and follow through with them — can play a meaningful role in helping young adults thrive in school, at work and in their personal lives, according to a new report funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Read more here

Press Release: 2018 Keith Vaughan, Peggy Taylor and the late John Taylor and Mitch Neuhauser Receive United Way of Forsyth County’s Highest Honors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — April 17, 2018 Keith Vaughan, Peggy Taylor and the late John Taylor and Mitch Neuhauser Receive United Way of Forsyth County’s Highest Honors

On April 12, 2018, The United Way of Forsyth County recognized key philanthropic leaders in the community at its annual Tocqueville Leadership event.

Keith Vaughan was honored with the Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award.

The Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award was established in 1987 and is presented annually by the Society to an outstanding volunteer who has demonstrated untiring commitment, visionary leadership, resourcefulness and creativity in meeting the needs of our community.

Keith Vaughan is the Chair Emeritus of Womble Bond Dickinson, having served as the firm’s Chairman and Managing Partner from 2002 through 2015. He retired from the firm in January concluding almost 43 years in the practice of law – all at Womble Bond Dickinson.

Mitch Neuhauser, Chair of the Tocqueville Leadership Society, was named Volunteer of the Year. Neuhauser serves as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at RAI Services Company.

Peggy Taylor and the legacy of her late husband John were honored with induction into the Million Dollar Roundtable

Peggy is an accomplished local artist and John was a Chapel Hill alum, an Army veteran, and a successful businessman.

John and Peggy started their own foundation in 2010. Throughout their life together, they were active members at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, supported UNC athletics and academics, and were instrumental in building and operating the Vision Tennis Center (now Taylor Tennis Center) in Clemmons, one of the first indoor tennis facilities in the area.

Through their support of United Way of Forsyth County, they impacted countless lives in our community. John’s giving spirit lives on today through his family and his legacy of quiet generosity.

The Million Dollar Roundtable is UWFC’s highest level of philanthropic giving and its members have invested a million dollars or more in the work of UWFC over the course of ten years or less. This critically important group of donors allows the work of UWFC to deepen and become more impactful through their generous investments. This award is recognized nationally by the United Way World Wide and locally by United Way of Forsyth County.

To date, United Way of Forsyth County has recognized four individuals or families.

PAST RECIPIENTS

2014 John and Mary Louise Burress

2015 Andy and Margery Brown

2016 Kelly and Eva Ann King

2017 John (late) and Peggy Taylor

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Tocqueville Society Dinner Announced

We are excited to announce our annual Tocqueville Society invitation only dinner is just around the corner on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

We will celebrate philanthropic leaders across our community and showcase the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors!

Origins of the Tocqueville Society

Only 26 years old when he came to the United States and Canada in 1831, Alexis Charles-Henri de Tocqueville traveled extensively, recording his observations of life in the young nations.

Though he only spent nine months in North America, he gleaned many profound insights about American society. His observations, readings and discussions with eminent Americans formed the basis of Democracy in America, a detailed study of American society and politics published in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840.

Tocqueville recognized, applauded and immortalized North American voluntary action on behalf of the common good. He wrote: “I must say that I have seen Americans make a great deal of real sacrifices to the public welfare; and have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend a faithful support to one another,” eloquently capturing the essence of personal philanthropy that persists almost three centuries later.

The observations on philanthropy made by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 are true today; North Americans understand that advancing the common good means creating opportunities for a better life for all. The name Tocqueville Society was chosen because of Alexis de Tocqueville’s admiration for the spirit of voluntary association and effort toward its advancement.

Membership Benefits

Specific local Tocqueville Society benefits differ by location; however, all Tocqueville Society members benefit from:

  • Joining a national network of philanthropic leaders who are engaged locally to create long-lasting, positive changes
  • Partnering with a quality organization and dedicated staff; ensuring that gifts, voice, and time are efficiently invested in local communities to maximize impact
  • The unique position of United Way as one of the world’s premier philanthropic organizations which can be used to convene community business and civic leaders focused on the building blocks of a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job; income that can support a family through retirement; and good health.
  • Local Tocqueville Society leaders along with National Society and Million Dollar Roundtable members are invited to attend national and worldwide gatherings of Tocqueville and Million Dollar Roundtable Members.

Contact Cathy Coles at Cathy.Coles@uwforsyth.org or call 336.721.9370 to learn how you can become involved in the United Way Tocqueville Society and/or to inquire about membership benefits.

Press Release: United Way Forsyth County Appoints Cathy Coles as New Executive Director of the UWFC Foundation

Winston-Salem, NC – November 3, 2017 United Way Forsyth County Appoints Cathy Coles as New Executive Director of the UWFC Foundation

United Way Forsyth County has appointed Cathy Coles as the Executive Director of the UWFC Foundation. In this role, Coles will oversee the United Way’s Major Gifts and Planned Giving programs and will be responsible for overseeing the development and growth of the foundation’s philanthropic goals.

 

Coles comes to the United Way with an extensive background in both the non-profit and academic sectors.

 

Most recently, prior to joining the United Way, Coles served as a Special Education Teacher at the Triad Academy at Summit School. Before joining Summit School, Coles served as the Executive Director of Project Potential, a non-profit organization that helps first-generation college students in grades 9-12 prepare for, apply to, and attend college.

 

Coles holds a BA in Psychology from Wake Forest University.