All the people of Winston-Salem deserve council members who live in their neighborhoods, understand their concerns and feel the same effects of city zoning and spending choices. Only district elections ensure the people are represented by individuals from their own communities. As the United Way of Forsyth County has long affirmed: place matters.

Sen. Paul Lowe weighs in on House Bill 519.

Press Release: Partnership for Prosperity to Tackle Poverty in Winston-Salem


Office of the Mayor

March 15, 2019

Contact: Evan Raleigh, 336-397-7701;

Partnership for Prosperity to Tackle Poverty in Winston-Salem

         Mayor Allen Joines and N.C. Rep. Derwin L. Montgomery today announced formation of The Partnership for Prosperity, a new non-profit initiative that will work to implement the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force.

        The partnership will work to create and implement an action plan for reducing the number of city residents affected by poverty. It will be guided by the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force, formed by Joines and Montgomery in 2015 and tasked with finding local solutions that would be both impactful and feasible for reducing poverty. After studying the issue for 15 months, the thought force members came up with 56 recommendations and suggested that the community designate a person to work on this effort full-time.

        Accordingly, The Partnership for Prosperity will have an executive director and a community engagement associate, both of whom will work full-time, Joines said.

        “The issues that underlie the enduring persistence of poverty are complex and require a concerted effort to address,” Joines said. “By designating full-time staff, we hope to provide the comprehensive approach that will help us reduce poverty in our community.”

        Montgomery noted that in addition to implementing the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force, the partnership will collaborate with the existing framework of agencies and programs that are working to reduce poverty. “There are numerous programs already working on this issue,” Montgomery said. “What the partnership can do is help us integrate these efforts so that they can have the maximum impact.” Montgomery said he is excited at the work the partnership will accomplish. “This is just the beginning.”

      John Railey, the former editorial page editor of the Winston-Salem Journal, will serve as the partnership’s executive director. Chanel Nestor, an adjunct lecturer of Rural Sociology and Sociology at N.C. A&T State University and a Winston-Salem native who grew up in the Happy Hill neighborhood, will serve as the community engagement associate.

        Railey said, “Chanel and I are thankful that the mayor and the Poverty Thought Force had the vision for this crucial initiative. We’re excited about starting it from the ground up: by listening to those living in poverty and aligning with them in the fight.”

        Support for the partnership is being provided by the city, BB&T, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, the United Way of Forsyth County and Wake Forest University.

        As an initial step, the partnership will hold a series of “listening sessions” with those who are living in poverty. The meetings are open to the public and will solicit input on the Poverty Thought Force recommendations and which of them the partnership should focus on implementing.

        Listening sessions will be held:

·         Monday, April 1, 1 p.m., Financial Pathways of the Piedmont, 7820 North Point Blvd., Suite 100.

·         Thursday, April 4, 1 p.m., Cleveland Homes Community Center, 1135 E. 15th St.

·         Thursday, April 4, 6 p.m., Skyline Village, 1528 Bruce St.

·         Friday, April 5, 2:30 p.m., The Community Mosque of Winston-Salem, 1419 Waughtown St.

·         Monday, April 8, 2 p.m., (Meeting of The Homeless Caucus) Central Library auditorium, 660 W. Fifth St.

·         Wednesday, April 10, 1:30 p.m., Crisis Control Ministry, 200 10th St. E.

·         Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m., Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1075 Shalimar Drive.

·         Wednesday, April 24, 1:30 p.m., Lloyd Presbyterian Church, 748 N. Chestnut St.

·         Wednesday, April 24, 8 p.m., Open Arms Community of the United Methodist Church, 437 E. Sprague St.

·         Thursday, April 25, 2 p.m., Experiment in Self-Reliance, 3480 Dominion St. NE.

        Railey can be reached at Nestor can be reached

Press Release: Working Families Could Overlook Valuable Tax Credits

Free Tax Assistance Helps Winston-Salem Residents Claim Their Full Refunds


Winston-Salem workers could overlook important federal tax benefits because they simply don’t know about them. They could miss out on an extra income boost.


“The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) can make a real difference for workers who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Shirley Abdullah, Program Manager at Experiment in Self-Reliance. Experiment in Self-Reliance is offering free tax preparation services to working families at convenient locations throughout Winston-Salem. Individuals can get free help determining their EITC and CTC eligibility and claiming the credits.


Experiment in Self-Reliance is raising awareness of these services by hosting EITC Awareness Day on January 25, 2019 from 11:30am through 1:00pm at 3480 Dominion Street.


The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to qualifying lower-wage workers and their families. Workers earning less than about $50,000 from wages, self-employment, or farming in 2018 could qualify. Many people will qualify for the first time this year due to changes in their income, their marital status, or parental status, according to the IRS. The IRS estimates that four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC.


“We want to raise the number to five out of five,” Shirley Abdullah said. “Thanks to our trained and certified volunteer work force, we plan on assisting more than 5,000 taxpayers this year.”


The Child Tax Credit is available to workers who earn more than $2,500 in 2018. A qualifying child for the CTC must be under age 17.


A family’s tax refund also offers a chance to put some money into savings. To help families looking to save their tax refund for a rainy day, Experiment in Self-Reliance will refer interested taxpayers to asset-building programs that will help them well into the future. To have their taxes prepared, residents should bring income documents from all jobs worked throughout the year as well as their social security number, and a valid photo ID.


The EITC is one of the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty programs. In 2016, the EITC lifted an estimated 5.8 million people out of poverty, more than half of them children.


Experiment in Self-Reliance will run 10 tax sites throughout Winston-Salem. The tax sites will be open from January 22, 2019 to April 15, 2019. ESR is a United Way of Forsyth County Partner Agency.


For more information, call (336) 722-9400 or visit

                                                                        Media Contact: Victoria von Dohlen

                                                                                              Number: 336-722-9400 ext. 124



ESR: Empowering Strength & Resilience

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Announces Open Meetings for Place Matters


WINSTON-SALEM, NC – July 9, 2018 United Way of Forsyth County Announces Open Meetings for Place Matters

Open meetings for Place Matters are scheduled for July 10 at 11 AM & July 19 at 2 PM. Both meetings will be held at Goodwill Industries on University Parkway in the Self Reliance Hall.

These meetings are for all interested community agencies, grassroots groups, and partners interested in the funding prospects for the upcoming 2019-2020 funding cycle for Place Matters. It is imperative that interested parties attend as this is where access to the Letter of Intent will be released.

Any questions should be directed to Debbie Wilson, Community Impact Officer at


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

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.”


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


Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods (NBN) Grants Gentleman’s Quorum Inc. $9,022

Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods (NBN) has given Gentleman’s Quorum Inc. a grant in the amount of $9,022 to support a program designed to help teach boys how to become men. The focus of the program is teaching students employability training skills and equipping them with social skills to adapt and adjust to most social interactions. Read more here.

Press Release: Free Easter Egg Hunt and Meal Distribution to Serve Hundreds on April 15

WINSTON SALEM, NC – More that 300 families will receive boxed meals for Easter when the United Way of Forsyth County (UWFC) supported New Communion Mobile Market and Pantry (New Communion) has a food distribution and Easter egg hunt, 3 p.m. on April 15 at Grace Presbyterian Church, located 3901 Carver School Road, in Winston-Salem.

The food distribution will feature “family feast” sized box meals with enough food to feed 10 to 12 people. The Easter egg hunt will feature give away prizes and be open to more than 100 children ages 2-13.  The events are free and open to the public with a focus on residents of the 13 identified UWFC Place Matters neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods include Northwoods Estate, Monticello Park, Ebony Hills, Prospect Park, Wildwood Park, Cardinal Acres, Castle Heights, Spaulding Drive, Eastgate Village, Lakeside, Dreamland, Bowen Park and Ladeara Crest.

“We are excited to have fantastic meals for entire families to take and enjoy from their own homes,” said Monica L. Banks, New Communion co-executive director. “And for the Easter egg hunt, we will have great prizes.”

The box meals will feature ham or chicken, baked beans, glory greens, green beans, heat and serve rolls and pie or cobbler. The Easter egg hunt will have 400 Easter eggs, candy and vouchers for prizes ranging from bicycles and scooters to dolls and more.

New Communion, a UWFC partner agency, is a faith-based organization with the goal of enhancing community relationships and diminishing the impacts of hunger and food insecurity. As a part of UWFC’s Place Matters program, New Communion, provides access to fresh food, promotes eating healthy food and access to pantry items in Forsyth County.

Place Matters is a resident-led initiative focused on empowering local residents to direct funding and activities on what they feel is best for improving their communities. UWFC launched Place Matters, in part, to strengthen neighborhoods and reduce poverty in targeted communities in Forsyth County.  Today more than 65,000 residents, and 1 out of every 3 children, in Forsyth County are living in poverty.

Recognizing that these communities face many interconnected challenges, Place Matters is bringing together local organizations to address the issues. UWFC is partnering with Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, a grassroots community-organizing firm, to engage residents themselves in developing their vision for the community. A resident committee is reviewing programs and approving applications for Place Matters funding.

Blog: What is Place Matters?

What Is Place Matters?

Simply put, Place Matters is about doing with, and not for – and at United Way we think that makes all the difference.

The opportunity for a good life begins in our families, our schools, and our jobs. And it begins in our neighborhoods. Place, or where we live, matters. And it’s no different here in Winston-Salem & Forsyth County.

Because we believe our entire community is better off when all its neighborhoods are healthy and thriving, United Way launched Place Matters – a new, innovative strategy guided by local residents that invests in programs to help strengthen neighborhoods.

What makes Place Matters different?

  • It is resident-led and inspired. At United Way, we want residents – the people who know their neighborhoods the best – to make decisions on what’s needed. It seems obvious, but it doesn’t always happen.
  • It is asset-based – we are building upon the gifts, skills, and talents of residents to strengthen their neighborhoods.
  • Collaboration. At United Way, we are able to convene community stakeholders – residents, nonprofit organizations, the faith-based community, and business and education leaders –in an inclusive approach focused on sustainable change in the buildings block of a good life: Education, Financial Stability, and Health. By working together, we can all achieve greater results.

Engaging the Community

Through our key partnership with Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, we are engaging residents to ensure investments align with the priorities of those who live in and experience their neighborhoods every day.

In Place Matters, a group of residents from 13 neighborhoods in northeast Winston-Salem have joined together to make the place they live stronger. This Resident Impact Council identifies guiding priorities for funding, recommends programs to receive funds, and then evaluates whether those programs are working successfully. The Resident Impact Council have even given their 13 neighborhoods a collective name: CiVIC = Community Voices Impacting the Community (see map).


The Resident Impact Council identified the following “Guiding Priorities” as issues they would like to see improved in their community through United Way’s Place Matters investments.

Unemployment and Underemployment

  • Job placement
  • Skill development
  • School successMultigenerational Support
  • Seniors
  • Teens and young adults
  • ChildrenHealthy Living
  • Access to fresh and healthy food
  • Increase physical activity levels
  • Preventative healthcareHousing Stock and Vacant Lot
  • Improve existing housing stock
  • Increase utilization and repurpose of vacant lotsInvesting in Change
  • In 2016/17, United Way of Forsyth County is investing about $2.7 Million in programs focused on those Guiding Priorities and strengthening the CiVIC neighborhoods. We know change will not happen overnight. United Way is committed to Place Matters, the CiVIC neighborhoods, and the people who live there for the long-term

Click here to learn more about programs funded through Place Matters !

We Believe Place Matters

The opportunity for a good life starts with our families, schools, and jobs; and it begins in our neighborhoods. We believe that place, or where we live, matters. Whatever country, state, city, or neighborhood we live in, each area presents us with a set of unique opportunities and challenges in our lives.

Over the years, United Way’s strategic partnerships and investments in solutions that address our community’s most pressing issues, have positively influenced the areas of Education, Financial Stability, Health and Basic Needs. However, not every neighborhood in Winston-Salem has always benefited from this success. In fact, from 2000 through 2010 poverty grew by more than 70% in Winston-Salem.

Furthermore, poverty is becoming increasingly concentrated within certain neighborhoods creating even more complex challenges. This negatively affects the whole community. The truth is that our entire community can only be successful when each of its neighborhoods is healthy and thriving.

Through a new initiative called Place Matters, United Way of Forsyth County is working collaboratively with a local grassroots community organizing agency, Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, and residents in thirteen neighborhoods in the northeast part of Winston-Salem to strengthen these areas. The work that is taking place in the area is called CiVIC, which stands for Community Voices Impacting Community, and is based on the principle of resident ownership of the process and outcomes.

The thirteen neighborhoods consist of a mix of priority areas (Ladera Crest, Bowen Park and Dreamland), along with more stable and established areas. In all cases, the neighborhoods have significant assets upon which to build. We are using an Asset-Based Community Development model (ABCD) which identifies all of a community’s existing assets – residents and their gifts, skills, and talents; formal and informal associations; the area’s history; and physical or natural spaces – and leverages them to build a stronger and healthier community. We are doing this “with” rather than“for” residents.

CiVIC is a fitting name for this area and for this work because resident leadership and ownership is the lifeblood of the Place Matters initiative. We understand that no one knows a neighborhood better than the residents who live there. That is why we are engaging with residents in order to better understand all of the existing assets, presenting challenges, and most importantly, the residents’ vision for their neighborhoods.

United Way will be working in new ways by creating relationships with new collaborative partners, while also maintaining opportunities for Partner Agencies to collaborate in this work. We believe that our Partners’ expertise and capacity in conjunction with the knowledge and experience of residents and grassroots organizations will allow for greater creativity and, consequently, longer lasting and more impactful results. We are committed to supporting work that makes a positive impact in these neighborhoods.

We are excited by the prospects that Place Matters offers, and there will be a number of activities and opportunities to support this work in the coming months. Residents of CiVIC neighborhoods have already begun participating on an Impact Council and have been hard at work shaping the priorities and desired outcomes of this work. They have been meeting at “Neighbor Nights” to discuss common interests and issues and strengthening personal relationships. In the coming months, we will be hosting “Network Nights” where anyone, not just CiVIC residents, is invited to meet and share their gifts, skills and talents to help address neighborhood issues. We will also host “Community Conversations” that will provide opportunities to foster relationships amongst local residents, grassroots or faith-based organizations, businesses, and nonprofits with the goal of deepening conversations around community challenges and creative solutions.

Please be on the lookout for invitations to some of these exciting opportunities. We encourage you to get involved and look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, if you would like more information or have any questions about Place Matters and CiVIC, please contact Alana James at or Bret Marchant at

Written by: Alana James
Director, Community Based Collaborations