Thank Your Elected Officials in Congress for Protecting Access to VITA

Congress passed the Taxpayer First Act and made the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program permanent!

Say “thank you” to your elected officials for protecting free, high-quality tax preparation for hardworking Americans.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was created 50 years ago as a demonstration pilot. When the President signs the Taxpayer First Act, VITA will be codified, and millions of taxpayers can count on this critical program for many tax seasons to come. VITA sites in every state across the country prepared over 1.5 million tax returns for low- and moderate-income Americans in 2019 bringing back $1.8 billion to communities.

You can thank your elected officials in Congress for protecting access to VITA for millions of taxpayers and urge them to increase investments in the program by clicking here

 

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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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

Project Blueprint

Project Blueprint is a leadership development program designed to increase representation of underrepresented groups on local nonprofit boards and committees. The program consists of a series of training sessions that introduce participants to the roles and responsibilities of a nonprofit board while developing their skills to help them become successful board members.  United Way Worldwide launched Project Blueprint in 1987 as a pilot program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the first Project Blueprint class from United Way of Forsyth County graduated in 1992.  Since then over 200 individuals have graduated from the program.  Project Blueprint is now a partnership between United Way of Forsyth County and HandsOn Northwest North Carolina.

 

 

Goals.  Project Blueprint seeks to:

  • Recruit volunteers from underrepresented populations for involvement in nonprofit organizations
  • Develop and improve leadership skills
  • Improve service delivery through volunteer involvement in the workplace and community at large
  • Ensure that local volunteer leadership is more reflective of our diverse community
  • Create a network of ethnically and culturally diverse professionals
  • Place program graduates on local nonprofit boards or committees where they can use their knowledge and skills to serve their community

Eligibility.  Project Blueprint seeks applicants who:

  • Are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • Exhibit or have the potential for leadership
  • Show an interest in community involvement and a desire to serve and strengthen our community
  • Will to commit to serve on a nonprofit board of directors or committee upon graduation from the program

What You Can Expect:

  • Acquire knowledge and skills needed to effectively serve on a nonprofit board or board committee
  • Build a peer group of other civic minded persons
  • Help with placement on a nonprofit board

Program.  Recruitment for the next Project Blueprint class begins in November and continues through the application deadline of February 16, 2018.  Class size is limited to ensure a high quality experience and more meaningful networking.  A half day orientation event will be held on March 14.  This event is followed by 9 consecutive classes that will meet each Tuesday, March 13-May 22 from 12-2 pm.  The program closely follows the Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, published by BoardSource, a nationally recognized organization dedicated to increasing nonprofit board governance.  Participants are also required to attend a Nonprofit Board Speed Dating event on Tuesday, May 22, to talk with various nonprofits about board and board committee opportunities.  All classes include a networking lunch.

Requirements. Participants are expected to attend all classes, so check your calendar to make sure the dates and times do not conflict with other commitments.  You may miss only one class in order to graduate from the program.  If more than one class is missed, you will be required to repeat the entire program.

Location.  Training sessions will be held at The Winston-Salem Foundation building, located at 751 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem, 27101, on the 3rd floor in the Neill Board Room.

Cost.  The cost to participate in the program is $75 per person and is due by March 13, 2018.  Many companies sponsor their employees’ tuition, but a limited number of partial scholarships are available.  For information on scholarships, please email KathyDavis@HandsOnNWNC.org.

New Survey Finds Majority of Millennials Stress Over Filing Taxes

new survey, conducted by United Way Worldwide, finds that 74 percent of millennial respondents indicate they felt some level of stress around filing their returns. The survey of over 1,000 millennials (those between the ages of 18-36) reveals that common stressors include making a mistake (48 percent) and not getting a full refund (23 percent).

Additionally, the survey found that millennials are not claiming the tax credits that they have earned. Fifty percent of those surveyed did not claim any tax credits last year; 67 percent of respondents were interested in learning more about tax credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

United Way is proud to partner with H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) to provide MyFreeTaxes, a valuable tool that can ease the stress of tax season by helping filers claim the tax credits for which they qualify. MyFreeTaxes is a free, easy and safe tool for anyone earning less than $66,000 to file federal and state taxes.

“United Way’s free tax preparation service, MyFreeTaxes, is the longest standing service provided by a nonprofit,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. “Our mission is to help every person in every community achieve financial stability. With so many millennials experiencing stress during tax season, we encourage them – and any qualifying individual – to use our free and easy tax preparation service. The tool will help them claim all the credits they deserve and save on tax filing fees in order to pay down debt, increase savings and reduce the stress they feel around tax season.”

MyFreeTaxes is completely free for households that earned less than $66,000 in 2017. United Way and longtime partner, H&R Block, have provided free tax filing services for federal and state taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 2009, helping almost one million taxpayers claim every tax deduction and credit for which they are eligible. These tax deductions and credits lead to refunds, totaling $180 million since 2009, that enable individuals and families to improve their financial stability by putting more money back in their pockets. United Way believes that people everywhere should have an opportunity to advance their economic status and is proud to partner with H&R Block to provide a valuable tool to help people better manage their money and get on more solid financial ground.

MyFreeTaxes

Qualifying filers, those earning less than $66,000, can enter data into a secure website, MyFreeTaxes.com, anytime, from anywhere, making it easy to update the documents from home, at work or on mobile devices. The service also includes a helpline, 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, which operates through April 30 from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm EST Monday through Friday and noon to 9:00 pm EST Saturday.  The website also provides a live chat function. MyFreeTaxes is provided by United Way and H&R Block, which offers safe and secure software and guarantees that tax returns are 100 percent accurate.

About United Way Worldwide

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.

About H&R Block

H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE:HRB) is a global consumer tax services provider. Tax return preparation services are provided by professional tax preparers in approximately 12,000 company-owned and franchise retail tax offices worldwide, and through H&R Block tax software products for the DIY consumer. H&R Block also offers adjacent Tax Plus products and services. In fiscal 2017, H&R Block had annual revenues of over $3 billion with 23 million tax returns prepared worldwide. For more information, visit the H&R Block Newsroom.

MEDIA CONTACT

Southerlyn Reisig, United Way
southerlyn.reisig@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703.836.7100 ext.321

Christine Sanchez, United Way
christine.sanchez@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703-836-7100 ext. 564

Susan Waldron, H&R Block
susan.waldron@hrblock.com
Tel. 816-854-5522