Progress to Zero -Update 3

Today, April 19, 2019 marks the celebration of both the first night of Passover and Good Friday.     Not coincidentally these holidays often coincide.  Each holiday is a bittersweet reflection of deliverance from despair.  Each holiday also, an opportunity to build community, to support each other as we reflect on how we have over come adversity in our own lives.

No matter your faith tradition, the story arc from despair to joy, from enslavement to self-determination, from sinner to neighbor is a common thread.  For those of us whose careers have led us to serve the homeless, people struggling with addiction, mental illness, poverty we see the living embodiment of this struggle every day.

As we enter this weekend of reflection, I challenge you to think of the 650+ folks we have helped house this year alone.   As we continue to work towards a system where there are zero chronically homeless people this is the data we must use to rewrite the narrative that people can’t get housed.  It is not correct to say there are people who cannot be housed.   People are getting housed and being successful staying housed.  We are housing people with addiction, mental illness, zero income, with lengthy criminal histories we are even housing people who are schizophrenic or sex offenders.

This week we have 12 names on our by-name list. 17 names are on our not-by- name list.  This list was once over 200 people.

As you celebrate this weekend, or simply enjoy the company of your loved ones, take time to reflect on the power you felt in your life when someone believed in you, believed that you could overcome adversity.  Think about the power of being in community, in relationship with others.  And on Monday, let us each come to work and believe that together we are a mighty force and together we can help our last 29 chronically homeless folks find housing.

 

  • Andrea Kurtz

What Summer Slide Actually Means for Alison

Meet Alison!

Alison, a second grader in Forsyth County, has spent her school year working on literacy skills. She is finally reading on grade level alongside her classmates!

However, students, like Alison, lose an average of one grade level in math and reading over the summer without academic practice. Unfortunately, even though Alison’s mom works hard to provide for her family, she cannot afford to send Alison to summer tutoring.

Thankfully, United Way provides resources for summer educational programs to ensure students like Alison have access to quality summer enrichment programs so that they don’t fall behind in school.

Our goal is to raise $300,000 by May 31st to ensure these programs are fully funded this summer.

Click here to help change Alison’s life and the lives of other students like her.

 

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

 

Office of the Mayor

March 15, 2019

Contact: Evan Raleigh, 336-397-7701; evanr@cityofws.org

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 John.railey@uwforsyth.org. Nestor can be reached atChanel.nestor@uwforsyth.org

Educators across the country are experiencing a collective awakening about literacy instruction, thanks to a recent tsunami of national media attention. Alarm bells are ringing-as they should be-because we’ve gotten some big things wrong: Research has documented what works to get kids to read, yet those evidence-based reading practices appear to be missing from most classrooms. Read more here

Understanding a Teacher’s Long-Term Impact

As every teacher knows, they teach not just content but a range of skills students will need to be successful as adults. A recent study shows just how important fostering those skills is: Teachers who help students improve noncognitive skills such as self-regulation raise their grades and likelihood of graduating from high school more than teachers who help them improve their standardized test scores do.

Read more here .

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  www.eisr.org.

                                                                        Media Contact: Victoria von Dohlen

                                                                                              Number: 336-722-9400 ext. 124

                                                                                                                                Email: victoria.vondohlen@eisr.org

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ESR: Empowering Strength & Resilience

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.

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.