Community-Wide Investments

What We Do

Community-Wide Investments

The United Way currently invests in over forty partner agencies and sixty different collaborative programs. Additionally, last year over 390 agencies and nonprofit organizations from our local area and across the country received designated donations directly through United Way of Forsyth County’s Annual Campaign.

Through United Way of Forsyth County’s support and aligning of resources, these programs, the agencies, and their collaborating partners are all working to create a Stable, Educated, Healthy, and Economically Mobile Forsyth County.

Along with these programs, United Way of Forsyth County funds and supports other key initiatives in our community including NC211, Housing Matters (formerly the Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness), The Forsyth Promise, The Partnership for Prosperity, and our key partnership with Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods.

Educated Forsyth

Today in Forsyth county

About half of 3rd graders are not at reading level (47.2%). Of 8th graders, only 49.1% were proficient in reading, and only 40% were proficient in math. Only 58.4% of grade 11 participating students met the UNC System minimum admission requirement of a composite score of 17 on ACT.

  • Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction, 2017.

85.8% of forsyth county students graduated from high school.

65% of all jobs require some form of education after high school.

  • Source: WS/FCS, 2020.

1 in 5 children under the age of five grow up in under-resourced neighborhoods, meaning that they begin first grade already behind.

  • Source: United Way Worldwide, 2020.

Why this is Important

Education provides each of us with possibilities – the possibility of learning something new, having inspiring experiences, and finding success in a career. For our community, education leads to a productive labor force, which strengthens local businesses, reduces the burden on taxpayers, and makes Forsyth County an attractive place in which to live and work.

What is united way doing to help?

United Way of Forsyth County invests in quality early childhood education programs in our community. We provide tools and resources that teach parents and caregivers facts and best practices for different ages and stages of a young child’s life. From engagement ideas and using everyday moments as learning activities to ways to spark language and learning skills, we provide information that helps ensure all kids get a strong start.

Increasing the graduation rate to 90%, increasing at-grade-level skills in reading and in math by the end of 3rd and 8th grades, and soft skill development gives our students opportunities for a brighter future. In 2019, almost 8,000 students participated in school-based or out-of-school programs to help improve their reading and math achievement. Additionally, last year more than 80% of students receiving support improved or maintained a satisfactory school attendance record.

  • Click here to learn more about how UWFC is supporting an Educated Forsyth

    In Forsyth County, 30.4% of residents without a high school diploma experience poverty, while this number drops to 19.5% once individuals obtain a high school degree or GED—exemplifying that poverty rates decrease as educational attainment increases. More access to better education is a foundational step to stronger communities. The following programs have been designed to promote a more Educated Forsyth. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, ACS 1-Year Data, 2017)

    Lead Agency: Big Brothers Big Sisters
    Program Name: Site Based Mentoring Program
    Program Summary: The Big Brothers Big Sisters Site Based program is a collaborative effort with several local school partners that provides supervised mentoring at school sites. The aim is to strengthen their presence in targeted communities by re-establishing the program at Ashley Elementary and launching a program at East Forsyth Middle School in order to serve more children who come from not only single-parent homes, but also those who have been identified by teachers and/or school guidance counselors as ones who would benefit from having an additional friend/mentor.

    Lead Agency: Crosby Scholars
    Program Name: African American Males Pursing Educational Dreams (AAMPED)
    Program Summary: AAMPED has boosted student success in Crosby Scholars and has helped more vulnerable students view college as a reality- an outreach which Crosby Scholars aims to expand. At school, AAMPED offers monthly “Lunch and Learn” programs on topics such as motivation, perseverance, and self-awareness; grade advisor meetings; college recruitment visits; and Crosby Club meetings. Evening programs include college nights at Winston-Salem State University and Forsyth Technical Community College, high school math tutoring, attending a Wake Forest University basketball game and Project Alpha programming about college life lessons in collaboration with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity;
    manhood and more.

    Lead Agency: Crosby Scholars
    Program Name: Crosby Club
    Program Summary:
    Crosby Club has been offered for two years, and Crosby Scholars aims to expand to Philo Hill and East Forsyth middle schools. A typical meeting includes a welcome activity; exposure to college in which Crosby alumni, teachers, or college representatives share about their college experience; and the main activity that focuses on leadership and character development and introduction to careers. The Crosby Club uses the “Career and College Clubs” curriculum, based on 7th- to 12th- grade career and college readiness standards developed by NCCEP. Lessons address college and career readiness, academic preparation, leadership development, social and emotional learning, and professional etiquette.

    Lead Agency: Mediation Services
    Program Name: Truancy Mediation
    Program Summary:
    Truancy Mediation addresses specific complaints of unacceptable attendance patterns by involving those students, their families, school social workers and other parties who may serve as resources. Mediation Services has traditionally served students between the ages of 6 and 15 in local public schools who have missed 10 days or more from school. Their primary service is a conflict resolution hybrid of mediation and arbitration that helps to lower prosecutions for truancy, as well as encourage plans to promote academic success while identifying challenges in the process and further resources for enhancing the student learning process.

    Lead Agency: The Salvation Army
    Program Name: Ken Carlson Boys & Girls Club
    Program Summary:
    The Ken Carlson Boys & Girls Club serves youth ages 5-18 from 38 schools in the WS/Forsyth County School System. During non-school hours, the club provides a safe place with supportive adult mentors, peer friendships, and high-impact youth development programs. Emphasizing the importance and requirements of graduation from high school and the opportunities a post-secondary education can provide are both key aspects of the commitment to educational equity. Annual priorities include a focused curriculum including education and career development, character and leadership, health and wellness, the arts, sports and recreation.

    Lead Agency: Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
    Program Name: Project Graduation 2020
    Program Summary:
    Project Graduation: 2020 represents the next generation of strategies to impact student academic outcomes, promotion, and graduation. Since the 2006-07 school year, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools have been focused on increasing high school graduation rates. Over the last 10 years, the graduation rate has increased by 11.4%. Several years ago, the district and community partners set a 90% graduation rate goal. Middle Schools selected for Project Graduation 2020 include East Forsyth, Mineral Springs and Philo Hill Middle schools. The two levels of criteria for the development of this program include 1) Selecting middle schools feed into high schools who have been below the district average for graduation rate and 2) Identifying students at those schools who exhibit risk indicators for not graduating. After-school, In-school and Saturday tutoring, and summer success programs are the strategies implemented at these three schools.

    Lead Agency: YMCA
    Program Name: YMCA Achievers
    Program Summary:
    For 18 years, YMCA Achievers has worked to close the socioeconomic opportunity gap that exists among African American and Hispanic students. This program aims to help teens set and pursue higher education and career goals resulting in high school graduation and acceptance into an institution of higher learning. Focusing on minority, at-risk students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Achievers participate in a combination of field trips/college tours, career counseling, cultural experiences, enrichment programming, leadership summits, financial literacy projects, character education, and career and college prep workshops.

    Lead Agency: YMCA
    Program Name: Summer Learning Academy
    Program Summary:
    The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina aims to expand Summer Learning Academies (SLAs) to three Title 1, low-performing elementary schools in Winston-Salem: Diggs-Latham, Easton, and Ibraham. The 24-day (spanning 6 weeks) summer program, provided at no cost, consists of academic support, social and emotional Learning, leadership and character development, decision making, healthy life choices and family engagement. SLAs are designed to address socioeconomic disparities in education and ensure every child regardless of age, income or background, can learn, grow and thrive.

    Lead Agency: YWCA
    Program Name: Second Chance at Graduation
    Program Summary:
    Within Second Chance at Graduation, Teen Court and Work & Earn It are two programs sponsored by the YWCA. Teen Court targets juvenile first-time offenders who have committed non-violent misdemeanors. In Teen Court, the juvenile is tried and sentenced by a jury of peers – previous Teen Court clients and volunteers — to perform community service, to attend ARISE Life Skills seminars, and/or provide other types of restitution. Work & Earn It is a monetary restitution/community service program designed to reduce the number of youths who recidivate into the juvenile justice system. The target population is students between the ages of 10 and 17 who are on probation or diverted from juvenile court to fulfill their terms through community service and monetary restitution.

    Lead Agency: YWCA
    Collaborating Partners: Big Brothers Big Sisters & Crosby Scholars
    Program Name: Best Choice Center
    Program Summary:
    The YWCA’s Best Choice Center is a year-round academic enrichment program, providing After School and Summer Camp programs for K-8 students from Community-Wide and Place Matters schools. The mission is to help at-risk children succeed academically and interpersonally. The Crosby Bigs for Success Program, which matches high school age Crosby Scholars with Best Choice students, provides mentors for the younger children. The Crosby Bigs are trained by Big Brothers Big Sisters to support “Littles” development of soft skills and promote K-12 success. After School and Summer Camp programs provide certified teachers, transportation, meals, field trips, and access to resources.

Economically Mobile

Today in Forsyth COUNTY

From finding a living wage job to attaining better-paying employment through job training and placement, Forsyth County residents need help to gain and maintain financial stability. 64% of renter households that earn less than $20,000 a year pay more than 30% of their income on housing. This puts them precariously close to becoming homeless should that income decrease or go away.

  • Source: City of Winston-Salem Housing Study and Needs Assessment, 2018.

25% of children in forsyth county under the age of 18 currently live in poverty.

  • Source: US Census Bureau, 2018.

In north carolina, 30% of a family’s budget is spent on child care

  • Source: The UWNC Self Sufficiency Standard, 2020..


Forsyth County is ranked third from the bottom in the entire United States in terms of economic mobility. This means that if you are born poor in this county, the odds of you getting up and out of poverty are worse than nearly anywhere else in the entire country. Fewer new jobs are being created for workers with only a high school diploma. Of the 11.6 million jobs created since the Great Recession, 99% have gone to workers with at least some postsecondary education.

  • Source: Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility, 2018.


UWFC works with programs and partner agencies to increase economic mobility for those with the greatest need, by developing lasting solutions and addressing the root causes of poverty and inequity. In 2019, $5 million in refunds were returned to over 3,000 Forsyth County residents through free tax preparation assistance and over 4,000 residents received job skill training and assistance finding a job.

healthy Forsyth

Today in Forsyth COUNTY

Mental illness affects one in four adults and one in five children. Very few people, however actually seek treatment for mental illness. The stigma associated with mental illness is still the biggest barrier that prevents people from getting treatment or retaining their treatment.

  • Source: Mental Health Association of Forsyth County.

Only 33.3% of the 11.2 million adults with a serious mental illness received mental health treatment last year.

  • Source: US Census Bureau, 2018.

50% of mental health disorders begin by age 14.

  • Source: Mental Health Association, 2020.

11% of forsyth county residents do not have health insurance.

  • Source:


Nearly one in seven children aged 2 to 8 years in the United States has a mental, behavioral, or develop­mental disorder. Among children and adolescents aged 9 to 17 years, as many as one in five may have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Yet not a single state in the country has an adequate supply of child psychiatrists, and 43 states are considered to have a severe shortage.

Mental disorders are among the most common causes of disability. The resulting disease burden of mental illness is among the highest of all diseases. In any given year, an estimated 18.1% (43.6 million) of U.S. adults ages 18 years or older suffer from a mental illness and 4.2% (9.8 million) suffer from a seriously debilitating mental illness.

  • Source:


In 2019, more than 6,000 children and adults received counseling, treatment, screenings, and referrals through mental health programs supported by United Way. This continuum of programs provides local mental health services to almost any person who needs help — from children as young as three to adults of all ages.

Stable Forsyth

today in forsyth county

When our essentials are uncertain – if we are hungry, if we don’t have a place to sleep, if we are in fear of domestic violence – the other challenges we encounter in life become even more difficult to overcome. We can’t focus on going back to school, finding a better job, or taking care of our health.

18.8% (16,300) of forsyth county children are food insecure.

  • Source:

Rent is unaffordable for 50% of renters in forsyth County.

  • Source:

37.3% of residents make below 200% of the federal poverty line for a family of four.

  • Source:


Last year, more than 8,000 nights of shelter were provided to residents in need of housing — including women and children in imminent danger of abuse. Through Housing Matters, which is staffed and partially funded by United Way, we now have the resources to house all homeless veterans and we have established a system to end chronic homelessness in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

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