Community-Wide Investments

What We Do

Community-Wide Investments

For over 97 years, United Way of Forsyth County has brought our community together to support the wellbeing of all residents in the areas of health, education, financial stability, and basic needs. Today, we envision Forsyth County as a world-class community where EVERYONE holds the power to access opportunities and resources needed to thrive – and no one lives in poverty. UWFC has evolved from being solely a “funding” organization to a “community impact” organization focused on community-level strategies to achieve lasting change for our residents. We continue to engage with diverse partners (nonprofits, businesses, government, schools, neighborhoods, and faith-based organizations) to identify collaborative solutions which will result in positive systemic change for Forsyth County. Community impact work by its nature is an evolving process of learning with our community. Over time, we have learned we cannot effectively break the cycle of poverty unless we also address factors impacting the family unit or entire household.  We are investing in non-profit partners who are working collaboratively with other stakeholders throughout Forsyth County in order to move from transactional service delivery towards transformational outcomes for their clients; we are partnering with those who are committed to working towards our vision.

United Way of Forsyth County is working to create a thriving community by investing in neighborhoods and households with a specific focus on creating equitable communities, improving economic mobility, and ensuring childhood and student success.  Along with these programs, United Way of Forsyth County funds and supports other key initiatives in our community including NC211, Housing Matters, The Forsyth Promise, The Partnership for Prosperity, and our key partnership with Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods.

To access information about our funded programs click below:

childhood and student success

Only 39% of students in Forsyth County are reading on a 3rd-grade reading level. With your help, we will increase 3rd-grade reading proficiency from 40% to 90% by closing the educational equity gap by 2025, resulting in a 90% graduation rate.

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

Reading is a critical predictor of high school success or failure. This is because children are learning to read until fourth grade; after that, they are reading to learn. Forsyth County continues to have significant gaps in educational achievement by race and income along all age groups of child development. Closing these gaps will be key to ensuring the community’s future workforce can compete on a national scale and thrive. United Way Forsyth County’s educational priorities directly support those of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Quality education is one of the most powerful tools for lifting socially excluded children and adults out of poverty and into a thriving future; it is a foundational step to creating stronger communities.  While the overall graduation rate has increased to 85.8%, we continue to see significant racial disparity in the areas of reading and math proficiency.  

In Forsyth County in 2018-19, third grade reading proficiency among Black and Hispanic/Latino students hovered between 33% and 38% compared to 74% among white students, and the average graduation rate among Black and Hispanic/Latino students was 81% compared to over 90% for white students. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed virtually all instruction online in the spring and fall of 2020. Due to internet access challenges and other barriers, online instruction exacerbated existing inequities in our school system. Disparities were clearly present in online engagement by race/ethnicity. In Forsyth County, Black and Hispanic/Latino students had significantly lower rates of engagement in online instruction compared to white students. Even among those students who did engage, online learning presented its own set of barriers and challenges. Studies show that a child’s absence from the school environment has contributed to elementary school students losing skills in reading, writing, math, and to exacerbating the achievement gap between children of means and their peers from lower-income families.

What is united way doing to help?

United Way of Forsyth County is investing in programs that are ensuring children ages five to nine are on track to read on grade level by the end of the 3rd grade.  Our investments support evidence-based learning programs that ensure progress towards achieving appropriate literacy benchmarks that measure and enhance developmental and academic success, and social and emotional learning. Our goal is to improve access and empower families from historically marginalized communities to aid their young children in literacy and skills development.  We are also investing in high-quality, community-based tutoring for at-risk children in grades first through third, measuring the children’s progress toward grade level reading.  Our last strategic investment is in community-based summer learning programs to prevent summer learning loss in reading and math skills...

  • Click here to learn more about how UWFC is supporting Childhood and Student Success

    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 Winston-Salem/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: 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.

Economic mobility

UWFC is investing in highly impactful organizations using results-oriented projects and programs demonstrating comprehensive approaches to services designed to provide Pathways to Economic Mobility for low-resource individuals and ensure a strong safety net of basic needs and health services to stabilize households. Our strategy is based on a three-prong approach: Pathways to Economic Wellbeing, Socioeconomic Wellbeing – Basic Needs, and Socioeconomic Wellbeing – Health.

Today in Forsyth COUNTY

Economic mobility can have a multi-generational, positive impact on overall wellbeing be increasing access to quality healthcare, improving housing options, and broadening educational opportunities. Unfortunately, Forsyth County ranks as one of the worst counties in the country for economic mobility for children in poor families. For many, systemic racism hinders movement up the economic ladder. Effective economic mobility work operates with a commitment to racial equity. UWFC supports programs that build Pathways to Economic Wellbeing in our community.

  • Source: Winston-Salem State CSEM, Economic Mobility in Winston-Salem Forsyth County, NC, 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.

  • Click here to learn more about how UWFC is supporting Pathways to Economic Wellbeing

    Lead Agency: CARes Project
    Program Name: Car Ownership Program
    Program Summary: The Car Ownership Program moves people toward financial security by providing community funded vehicle loans and building skills through financial and credit coaching.  Reliable transportation is essential for sustainable employment, managing a household, and pursuing education.  Car ownership is an asset that removes many barriers for low-income families seeking financial mobility.  The Car Ownership Program offers financial literacy education, credit counseling, and teaches budgeting skills.  Participants are assisted with a low interest loan for a warrantied used car and matched with a long-term personal Financial Coach for the duration of the loan.

    Lead Agency: Enrichment Center
    Program Name: Employment Gateway
    Program Summary: The Enrichment Center provides employment training for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities through the Employment Gateway program, which is part of a nationwide, vocational rehabilitation network of services that helps adults with disabilities find full or part-time work. An Employment specialist helps pair the individual to a job that matches his/her skills and interests and provides on-the-job support until the individual can perform the job independently and successfully.

    Lead Agency: Experiment in Self Reliance
    Program Name: New Century Individual Development Account (IDA)
    Program Summary: The New Century IDA program provides financial literacy training for low-to-moderate income residents of Forsyth County, preparing them to become first-time homeowners or small business entrepreneurs. The program teaches clients budgeting skills and how to choose and use credit and banking products, along with other important information about finances. Clients are provided with a success coach who supports the establishment and growth of their savings account, in which they will have saved $1,500 by the time they have complete the program.

    Lead Agency: Experiment in Self Reliance
    Program Name: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) – Forsyth Free Tax
    Program Summary: Forsyth Free Tax provides free tax preparation at eight sites throughout Forsyth County during the tax season.  This program is free to any resident making less than $57,000 per year and prepares electronic returns for about 4,000 low-to-moderate income taxpayers in Forsyth County each year.  The program promotes the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  This credit allows qualifying residents to build their savings, pay off debts, and improve financial capability.  Volunteers are certified by the IRS.  The program ensures that everyone who qualifies for a tax credit receives it.  Two tax sites will have drop-off capabilities and accept appointments.

    Lead Agency: Experiment in Self Reliance
    Program Name: New Century Individual Development Account
    Program Summary: New Century IDA provides financial literacy training for low-to-moderate-income residents of Forsyth County preparing them to become first-time homeowners or small business entrepreneurs.  Participants work closely with a success coach to budget, build savings, and generate sustainable wealth.  Economic literacy workshops and a small business curriculum teach clients budgeting skills, techniques for improving credit, and financing options.  Participants actively work to improve their financial position and achieve asset goals.  Clients will establish a savings account they funded during the program.  Upon completion, these savings will be matched by New Century IDA and applied to a down payment or closing costs on a home or used to enhance their business.  These types of investments, homeownership, and small business ownership, are proven to help move low-income workers out of poverty.

    Lead Agency: Financial Pathways of the Piedmont
    Program Name: Center for Homeownership (CHO)
    Program Summary: The Center for Homeownership (CHO) serves prospective homeowners in Forsyth County of all income ranges but is especially useful to first time buyers and those in search of subsidized mortgages and other supportive programs.  They guide potential homeowners with comprehensive housing education, counseling, referrals, information on financing options, and other resources to prepare participants for responsible homeownership.  Additionally, CHO is a premier advocate for affordable housing needs in our community.  Enhancing homeownership stabilizes the community, allows individuals to begin to build assets, and improves the overall tax base.

    Lead Agency: Financial Pathways of the Piedmont
    Program Name: Financial Management, Education & Debt Counseling
    Program Summary: Financial Management, Education and Debt Management offers certified financial educators and counselors to assist individuals and families as they improve their financial health and reach financial goals.  Participants are assisted through individualized counsel and educational workshops in resolving debt, improving credit, budgeting, and avoiding financial crises.  Services are available to residents in Forsyth County seeking money management skills, student loan counseling, mortgage default and foreclosure intervention, and other forms of financial education to improve self-sufficiency.  This program is committed to supporting residents as they recover from the pandemic through rebuilding lost wages, assets, and greater stability.

    Lead Agency: Financial Pathways of the Piedmont
    Program Name: Senior Financial Care
    Program Summary: Senior Financial Care (SFC) provides personal financial counseling to residents in or around Forsyth County who are 60 years old and older.  For over 30 years, SFC has supported senior citizens as they navigate emerging barriers to their financial wellbeing.  SFC was established to provide remote and in-home money management services for seniors including checking writing for bill paying, bank statement reconciliation, budget and credit counseling, debt negotiation, housing and Reverse Mortgage counseling, fraud awareness, insurance counseling and assistance in choosing Medicare supplemental plans.

    Lead Agency: Goodwill Industries of NWNC
    Collaborating Partner: Financial Pathways of the Piedmont
    Program Name: The Prosperity Center
    Program Summary: Since 2008, The Prosperity Center has focused its efforts on promoting economic mobility by helping individuals through address under/unemployment, managing income, and fulfilling basic needs.  The under/unemployed services include vocational coaching; job readiness, advancement & retention training; skills training referrals; and access to more with a certified financial counselor.  Individuals are provided information on applicable State, Federal, and private resources such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, food/nutrition services, and veterans’ benefits.  The Prosperity Center encourages continued growth.  Before fully exiting the program, clients are expected, for a year, to remain in contact by phone, emails, and face-to-face for sustained support from The Prosperity Center.

    Lead Agency: The Parenting Path
    Program Name: GREAT Forsyth Program
    Program Summary: The GREAT Forsyth Program, a collaboration with Forsyth Technical Community College, provides services to parents and guardians attending Forsyth Tech.  Participating “student parents” engage in parenting seminars, are matched with vital community resources and navigation through a process of holistic case management and will have scholarship opportunities.  According to Diverse Education, student parents are four times less likely to complete their degrees when compared to students without children.  GREAT Forsyth supports work to ensure parents/caregivers remain enrolled, persist to graduation, and find economic mobility.

    Lead Agency: YMCA
    Program Name: YMCA Literacy Career Path Initiatives
    Program Summary: The YMCA Literacy Career Path Initiatives targets adult native English speakers in East Winston-Salem who read on a 4th to 8th grade level and are looking to advance their employment opportunities.  The program offers group classes 3 times a week, one-on-one tutoring sessions, career preparation, and counseling to adult learners.  Their model focuses on job-related certifications, and mastering job-specific vocabulary.

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