Press Release: Statement On Gun Violence In America

PRESS RELEASE

Statement On Gun Violence In America

 

Gilroy, California. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. Over the course of two weeks, these communities have become yet another footnote in a history linked by the devastation of gun violence, not on the battlefield but in our neighborhoods and communities. If your life has not been personally touched by these incidents, don’t be complacent. We are ALL impacted and are slowly being forever changed as a nation if we don’t say ‘enough!’

Our entire nation is on edge but will we just move on or stand up as a people and change this course? Children fear going to school and have to endure active shooter drills in their classrooms. In Times Square, people started to flee and take shelter after a motorcycle backfired. Many are afraid to congregate at festivals, places of worship, shopping malls, and concerts – places that have become common targets. No one feels safe anywhere and the sad truth is — they shouldn’t.

Our nation is blessed with community-based human services organizations that understand what brain science tells us – that the toll violence takes on our children and families impacts everyone, whether a direct victim or not. These organizations are often those who see firsthand what trauma resulting from violence does to people through the work they do to support first responders, families of victims and those facing horrific lifetime injuries. We know from brain science research the impact of toxic stress that can result from prolonged exposure to violence or adversity. Prolonged toxic stress can bring about chemical changes in the brain, which can lead to long term stress-related diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, suicide, mental illness, addiction and even cancer. In other words, the crisis we face is a public health crisis that requires a comprehensive public health response.

We understand that there is no one cause for the immenseness of the challenge and the solutions are multiple. Some have suggested that this is purely a mental health issue, which flies in the face of fact. According to the American Psychological Association, people with serious mental illness commit only three percent of violent crimes.

That is why our organizations are calling for a range of immediate actions to ensure that mass shootings and gun violence do not become our new normal. These actions include:

  • We need common sense gun laws.
  • We need to demand more from our political leaders. Historically we know that it is times like these when our leaders should be calling our nation to its better self. We need to hold one another accountable to building, not eroding, the fabric of civil society that Americans have enjoyed and set as an example to the world. The divisive rhetoric that has become so commonplace is eroding our institutions and tearing our nation apart, not just nationally but in our neighborhoods. Words matter. When political leaders use demeaning and dehumanizing terms in reference to racial, ethnic and other groups of people, they are dividing us and making it okay for violent individuals to act out their hatred and anger in horrible ways.
  • We all need to love each other more. America’s strength has always been its diversity. Families today are more isolated and have fewer meaningful connections with, neighbors, coworkers, and members of their communities. We need to recognize everyone’s humanity in our daily lives, as we walk down the street, are standing in line, in our offices or shopping. We need to remember that love is at the heart of the American spirit and the values that have served as a beacon to so many around the world throughout our nation’s history.

As human services community-based organizations we do so much more than provide services – we build the foundational supports that enable individuals, families and communities to be resilient and to flourish. It’s time for our network to come together and raise our voices to call on our nation’s leaders to take a public health approach to gun violence – one that puts prevention, and the health and welfare of our nation’s people above special interests that seek to divide us.

There is no time to waste. We all share in humanity with one another. We are all someone’s child, someone’s relative, someone’s friend, someone’s neighbor. We need to understand that the solutions are not just for others to act on, we have to take personal responsibility to love one another more and to show care and compassion. We must no longer sit back but speak out, act, mobilize and do everything in our power to stop these senseless tragedies.

 

Press Release: Leadership Winston Salem Class of 2019 Graduates Are Honored 

For Immediate Release:  Leadership Winston Salem Class of 2019 Graduates Are Honored

On June 6, the 2019 Class of Leadership Winston Salem celebrated the completion of their program with a graduation ceremony at the Millennium Center.

United Way of Forsyth County’s Senior Director of Engagement , Amanda Rosemann, is a graduate of this year’s class.

Leadership Winston-Salem’s Flagship Program is designed to ignite community leaders with a mission of educating, connecting and energizing leaders to serve and improve the community. Likened to a “community MBA,” participants benefit through active engagement, attending one Program Day each month and working in Action Learning teams to address an actual dilemma faced by a local agency.

The program challenges participants to increase their personal and collective capacity to transform the community through civic engagement, servant leadership and building social capital. Components include:

  • Informative sessions with community leaders
  • Experiential group activities
  • Relationship building/networking opportunities
  • Opportunities for honoring all aspects of diversity
  • Action Learning Projects addressing community needs
  • Emphasis on servant leadership

United Way President and CEO Cindy Gordineer notes, ” As a graduate of LWS’s Insight Program, I know first hand how invaluable LWS is to our community’s growth. The ability to connect leaders with other community leaders and foster collaboration for community improvement, is essential to Winston Salem’s continued growth and development.”

Prior graduates include, United Way of Forsyth County associates, Noelle Stevenson,Campaign Operations Coordinator, Class of 2018 and Charmaine Angino,  Senior Director, Community Planning & Investment, Class of 2017.

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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.

Are Purpose and Community Having a Moment? By BRIAN GALLAGHER, MARCH 20 2019

Are we realizing that people need more than money to be happy?

Across society, we are witnessing a redefinition of individual success in a more holistic way. I see it firsthand in my travels and experience it in my conversations. This new definition includes financial security, but also personal safety, a sense of purpose and a connection to community.

Let me explain. We know personal safety is crucial to a sense of well-being. Feeling secure in your home and community is something we should never take for granted. But what about a sense of purpose and connection to community?

In recent times, people overlooked these themes. Many believed (and still do) that money predominantly drove happiness – and while financial success is important, it’s far from everything.

People need more. They need to know that their lives have meaning—that when they get up in the morning, the result at the end of the day will be a better self, a better family or a better community. The opportunity to advance and make progress brings satisfaction. Purpose is a current buzzword in business circles, and leaders are realizing that consumers favor companies that are responsible, caring and give back.

A shared sense of community goes hand-in-hand with creating purpose, and it has fallen by the wayside in recent decades. I’m not the first to point it out. Notable figures such as Robert Putnam and David Brooks have led the way with their work, such as describing the decline in membership in community organizations. For example, in a recent article Brooks highlighted how important libraries are to building social connections: “It could be that the neighborhood, not the individual, is the essential unit of social change.”

As a lifelong community advocate, I know they are on to something.

Each of us is only as healthy as the communities in which we live and work. We can have millions in the bank, but be individually and communally poor. People who take part in strengthening their communities are often happier. They feel that they are part of something larger, and that by putting something in, they are getting something greater in return.

One of those people is Don Trevarthen from Minnesota. Don worked for more than 25 years as a lawyer for Toro and is a long-time supporter of Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW). He led Toro’s United Way Leadership Giving Campaign for four years, and pledges grew each year. Upon retirement, Don continued his community work by mentoring up-and-coming community leaders, teaching part-time at the University of Minnesota law school, and supporting various GTCUW projects.

“I believe that every member of our community deserves to live a good life and have the same opportunity to succeed,” said Don, a big advocate for people’s talent, intelligence and potential. “I am thankful for the good fortune in my career and in my life, and I want to help others have those same opportunities. As long as I’m able to do so, I will continue supporting organizations that help all people thrive.”

Don, who GTCUW said “has changed our Twin Cities community for the better,“ believes in the power of purpose and community to change lives. It’s also clear that he feels a sense of achievement from supporting his community. During my career, I’ve met an untold number of people like Don who have made amazing individual contributions to their communities’ socioeconomic health.

By redefining success to include personal safety, financial security, sense of purpose and community connections, as well as by embracing the power of digital technology, I believe our communities will be ripe for the kind of social progress fought for by Don and so many others.

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

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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The Key to Making Any Volunteer Experience Worthwhile- Aaron Gibson

Equity is the lens through which we get the clearest picture of how to combat injustice. This requires empathizing with those experiencing an injustice, setting aside our own thoughts on the matter and living with their perspective. My volunteer experience with A Wider Circle on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2018 was a great reminder of this process.

I was assigned to measure and sort business suits that had been donated to the Bethesda-based charity’s workforce development program. To my surprise, two hours into my group’s four-hour shift, we hadn’t done a single thing. As it turns out, this was intentional.

Instead of getting right to work, a volunteer coordinator spent the first half of our shift getting to know my group and teaching us about the organization. A Wider Circle uses a holistic approach to ending poverty. Its CEO, Mark Bergel, sleeps on the floor or a couch every night to try to understand one of the greatest needs of his clients: a lack of mattresses. We toured the donation processing facility, where only high-quality furniture is accepted. At A Wider Circle, if they wouldn’t gift a donation to a family member, they won’t give it to their clients. We also learned that each person looking for a job gets five business suits free of charge because no one should have to wear the same work clothes twice in one week.

You may think a two-hour orientation was a waste of time. After all, we were there to serve—not be served. However, it created the space for us to try to have a deeper understanding and compassion for the organization’s clients. While sorting and measuring each business suit, I imagined the person receiving it, and whether or not the quality was something I would be proud to wear.

Equity is impossible to accomplish without empathy. In 1994, congress established MLK Day as a national day of service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for eradicating racist policies that plagued people of color in the United States. MLK was a champion of equity, and a master at empathizing with others to understand and vocalize their needs.

Try this the next time you volunteer 
There’s a simple exercise in empathy you can do with others or by yourself. Imagine that a volunteer is coming into your home to cook you a meal. What would be going through your head. Would you be nervous? How would you like the volunteer to treat you? How would they know what kind of food you like to eat?

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.

Governor’s Office Partners with No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Leadership Institute to Expand Access to School Breakfast in 10 School Districts

A new grant program will help expand school breakfast access in ten North Carolina School Districts, Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper announced today. As part of the 2018-19 Breakfast After the Bell Initiative, 10 North Carolina school districts will receive grant funding through No Kid Hungry and The Dairy Alliance to implement innovative breakfast programs in one or more schools each.

“Studies have shown that kids who start the day with breakfast perform better at school and have fewer discipline problems,” said Governor Cooper. “Making school breakfast universal and more easily accessible reduces the stigma.”

“We’re committed to ending childhood hunger in North Carolina,” said First Lady Kristin Cooper. “This grant will help ensure students have easy access to breakfast so they can start their day ready to learn, and we would like to see these efforts expanded to support the academic, social-emotional, and health benefits that eating breakfast brings.”

The program means grants totaling approximately $105,000 are being awarded to the following ten public school districts in North Carolina: Anson County Schools, Cabarrus County Schools, Cumberland County Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Gaston County Schools, Johnston County Schools, Kannapolis City Schools, Public Schools of Robeson County, Wayne County Public Schools, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Each participating school district will receive between approximately $8,000 and $12,276.

These ten school districts were deemed eligible based on specific criteria set by the North Carolina School Breakfast Leadership Team using NC Department of Public Instruction meal claim data for the 2017-18 school year. The districts selected to participate also demonstrate the opportunity to increase school breakfast participation.

Breakfast After the Bell Models include: 
Breakfast in the Classroom: Students eat breakfast in their classroom after the official start of the school day. On average, schools reach 88 percent breakfast participation with this model.

Grab and Go to the Classroom:
Students pick up conveniently packaged breakfast items from mobile carts in high traffic areas, such as hallways or entryways, and eat their meals in the classroom or designated common areas.

Second Chance Breakfast: 
Second Chance Breakfast is particularly effective for middle and high school students. Students eat breakfast during a break in the morning, often between first and second period. Schools can use an innovative breakfast service model or open their cafeterias during this break.

School Nutrition Managers will monitor implementation and progress of the new breakfast service model within each school. Superintendents, School Nutrition Administrators, Principals, and other school leaders will also provide support.

Almost 60 percent of students in North Carolina qualify for free and reduced meals at school, but only 42 percent of those students eat school breakfast. Innovative Breakfast After the Bell models, such as Breakfast in the Classroom or Grab and Go, are cost-effective, efficient, and remove stigma to ensure more students start their day with a healthy meal.

The School Breakfast Leadership Institute will help school districts take advantage of federal funds, grant opportunities, and other resources to ensure all students begin their day fueled to learn.

The North Carolina School Breakfast Leadership Team consists of representatives from: the Office of the Governor of North Carolina; the Office of the First Lady of North Carolina; the NC Department of Public Instruction’s School Nutrition Services; No Kid Hungry NC; and Bladen County Schools.

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