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:  Legislation To Make VITA Permanent Passes Congress – Heads To President

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2019 –  Legislation To Make VITA Permanent Passes Congress – Heads To President
On Thursday, June 13 Congress passed a bill that will make the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program permanent. The bill, H.R. 3151 – The Taxpayer First Act, will now head to the President to be signed into law. On June 13th, over 60 United Way advocates visited Capitol Hill to advocate for key tax priorities including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers not raising kids at home and young people ages 21 to 24. United Way of Forsyth County, Chief Impact Officer , Debbie Wilson, was among those advocating and she notes, “As the United Way of Forsyth County continues to fight poverty in our community, the EITC is very important; just last year $51.6 million in refunds came back into our community”

The passage of this legislation is a major win for the United Way network, and for millions of low and moderate income Americans.

VITA started 50 years ago, and since 2008 it has been classified as a demonstration pilot program – requiring an authorization from Congress every year. Now, the program will be permanently authorized.

380 United Ways fund, operate, or support VITA programs in their communities. And the VITA program as a whole prepared returns for 1.3 million people, bringing back $1.9 billion dollars to the pockets of working families in 2018.

Through VITA, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers help individuals that earn less than $55,000 a year to claim refundable tax credits—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Recipients of these credits use the boost in income to pay for things like reliable transportation to work, childcare, or groceries. Children in families that receive the EITC tend to better in school, have a better chance of going to college and experience better health outcomes.

60 network leaders, many of whom represent VITA United Ways, were on the Hill on Thursday, June 13th as a part of the United Way Tax Policy Forum and Capitol Hill Day. They were there to advocate for this legislation, and to expand the refundable tax credits for many of the same folks who are VITA clients.

Legislation aimed at making the VITA program permanent has been introduced multiple times over many years. In some cases, those bills passed one chamber of Congress but never made it across the finish line.

By Caitlan Arenas Martinez

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

# # #

 

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Will Attend Hill Day and Advocate for Increasing the EITC

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — United Way of Forsyth County Will Attend Hill Day and Advocate for Increasing the EITC

On June 13th, over 60 United Way advocates will storm Capitol Hill to advocate for key tax priorities including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers not raising kids at home and young people ages 21 to 24. While the EITC is one of the most effective tools we have to help working families keep their heads above water, it currently excludes millions of workers.

The Tax Policy Forum and Hill Day is an opportunity for United Ways from across the country to travel to United Way Worldwide and dive deep into the network’s top tax policy priorities: the Charitable Deduction, Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

This event will feature speakers and subject matter experts about each of these leading policy issues, and participants will have the opportunity to put their knowledge into action through application workshops and the Hill Day. During the Hill Day event on June 13, participants will meet with their Members of Congress to advocate for the network policy priorities.

United Way of Forsyth County Chief Impact Officer, Debbie Wilson will be visiting the offices of Representative Virginia Fox, Senator Burr and Senator Tillis. Wilson notes, “ We are excited to advocate for increasing the EITC.  As the United Way of Forsyth County continues to fight poverty in our community, we know that the EITC is very important. More than 5 million American workers are taxed into poverty, largely because they are excluded from the pro-work, anti-poverty impacts of the EITC. We’re encouraging supporters to join in advocating for the EITC by visiting:  https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/take-action/stand-up-for-working-americans “.

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

                                                                                             # # #

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

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.

                                                                ###

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Press Release: $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries

For Immediate Release- WINSTON-SALEM, NC : $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries
On June 5, 2019 at the Weston Award Banquet, Samaritan Ministries was honored for their leadership and excellence in non profit management and awarded $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.
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. 

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. 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. 

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer, notes, ” We were very fortunate to have Joel serve as our Board Chair and we are honored to be a part of the Weston Award as it supports his and Claudette’s vision and drive for excellence. “

 “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 on the Weston Award: Claudette Weston, cweston@westoninc.com

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

                                                                                                                                                            ###

Press Release:  United Way of Forsyth County today announced that 46,354 Winston Salem, Forsyth County residents have saved over $5,000,000.00 on their prescription medications, thanks to its partnership with FamilyWize

For Immediate Release: Winston Salem, NC – June 6 2019 – United Way of Forsyth County today announced that 46,354 Winston Salem, Forsyth County residents have saved over $5,000,000.00 on their prescription medications, thanks to its partnership with FamilyWize, an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. FamilyWize delivers significant savings on prescription medications through its free, easy to use prescription discount card

Through this partnership, the United Way has helped promote the free, easy to use FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card, which has helped more than 13 million Americans save more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions.

“People should never have to choose between putting food on the table or taking their prescription medication,” Cindy Gordineer, United Way of Forsyth county President and CEO. “That’s why we formed a partnership with FamilyWize. Their free prescription discount card can reduce the costs of prescriptions for anyone who uses it. It’s an extremely valuable resource that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, should use.”

The FamilyWize card immediately lowers the cost of prescription medications by an average of 45% percent for people with and without insurance. Just by presenting the FamilyWize card or mobile app at their local pharmacy, people can save on the cost of their medicine, with no strings attached.

“We’re excited to see the people of Winston Salem/Forsyth County realize the benefits of our prescription discount card,” said Vickie Nisbet, Director of Community Relations at FamilyWize. “We hope that they continue to use the card and share it with others, as it can provide a significant savings.”

The Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card can be used by anyone: uninsured, insured, and even people with Medicaid or Medicare. The use of the card is unlimited, does not require any personal information from the user and has no eligibility criteria.

To take advantage of the savings that FamilyWize offers, consumers can print a card from FamilyWize.org, can call 1-866-810-3784 and request a card be mailed to them, or download the free FamilyWize app.

About FamilyWize

Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped over 13 million Americans live healthier lives by saving them more than $1.5 billion on prescription medications. By aggregating large groups of patients, FamilyWize advocates and negotiates for deep discounts on prescription medications which it then passes on in full to patients. FamilyWize partners with some of the most respected community groups and health care providers in the country, including United Way Worldwide, National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, and American Heart Association, among thousands of other community organizations. To use FamilyWize, download our card or mobile app at https://familywize.org/free-prescription-discount-card.

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

###

Engaging New Voters

One of the most compelling questions asked after every election year is “what will it take to get young voters to head to the polls?”

Every year is an important year for voters. Which means every year the important question to ask is, how do we ensure the most eligible citizens turn out to vote?

Our updated “Engaging New Voters” report tackles that question and proposes a simple but hard-fought answer: “contact.”

The report looks at 64 nonprofits across six states who reached out into the communities they serve via nonpartisan voter engagement activities and found amazing results

 

Read more here 

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Announces Day of Action June 21, 2019

WINSTON-SALEM, NC —United Way of Forsyth County Invites the Community to Join in the Day of Action June 21, 2019.

On and around June 21 each year, tens of thousands of people across the globe volunteer to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. United Way’s Day of Action provides opportunities for volunteers, donors and advocates to be part of solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives.

On Friday June 21, from 9am- 3pm, United Way of Forsyth County will work to assist seniors in the Place Matters Neighborhoods with home repairs and landscaping.

Community Engagement Manager Tahja Gaymon notes, “United Way of Forsyth County recognizes there are seniors in our community who do not have the financial means to make the necessary repairs or upkeep for their homes. For this reason, we are organizing volunteers throughout the community who will come together to do home repairs, painting and landscaping for seniors in our Place Matters community. “

Please contact Tahja Gaymon at Tahja.gaymon@uwforsyth.org for more information. To volunteer : https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0a45a8a72fa6ff2-united

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

# # #

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Progress to Zero Update

Last week was the State Homeless Conference in Raleigh.  Forsyth County had a strong showing of advocates at the conference, who have all returned refreshed and energized with new ideas and focus.  One strain of conversation that I have heard much about is on Housing Focused Shelter.  
The distillation of the concept is that from the first contact with folks entering the shelter the conversation, the focus should be on connecting to housing, there is a lot to unpack from these sessions which we will be doing as a CoC over the next several months.  What resonated for me in hearing folks talk about the housing focused shelter is that for most of the folks who touch homeless services, shelter is the only or the primary service they access.  If we want to end homelessness, then we must look at how our shelters policies and practices impact the flow of folks in and out of the homeless system.
We now have 19 folks on us by-name list.  The new folks to the list are folks who have either aged into chronicity because they have been waiting so long for a supportive housing placement, or were folks known to us returning from places such as hospitalizations or incarcerations.   This growth in our list is coming not from new people coming to our community, but rather folks we as a system have been interacting with for many months, and in some cases years.  
We have been focused for a long time on the handful of supportive housing resources, both permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.   We are working with case managers from all of these programs on finding new housing opportunities, on reducing the length of time from program entry to housing move-in and reducing length of stay in programs.  These case managers are working hard at housing folks and at continuous improvement. Their hard work has made good progress not just for their clients, but for our homeless services system.  
But to end chronic homelessness we have to not just keep working on improving our supportive housing muscles, but we also need to look at the front end of our system including both shelter and street outreach.   We need to develop, as a CoC, the muscles to help people develop and strengthen their connections to their natural support networks, mainstream resources (meaning anything not specifically for homeless people) and self-sufficiency skills  so that there are other doors out of homelessness then the few supportive housing slots available.
Homeless service providers are not in this work alone, and while we are the drivers of the work to end chronic homelessness, we are not the only organizations responsible for improving health, housing and wellness outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.  As I mentioned above, significant connections exist between homelessness, incarceration, hospitalizations, and mental health & substance abuse treatment services.     In connecting with some of these systems we have made great progress over the last 10 years, but if the in-flow to our chronically homeless by name list is any indication, we still have a long way to go to make sure that we are creating the systems and relationships across our county that support our goal of ending chronic homelessness.
Peace!
Andrea
Andrea S. Kurtz

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has named its Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, Classified Employee of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year.

MAY 24, 2019 – Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has named its Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, Classified Employee of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year. The winners were announced at a banquet May 23.

Called the “Core Awards”, the annual event highlights and celebrates employees that are exceptional educators and live the district’s Core Values.  The Core Values include equity, student-centered, accountability, integrity, high expectations, and collaboration. There were more than 150 nominees in all. Twelve finalists, 3 in each category, were showcased at the banquet.

Teacher of the Year:  Abi Woodson, 4th Grade Teacher at Speas Elementary is the new Teacher of the Year. Abi has been teaching for 15 years and has been at Speas since 2012. Carrie French of Moore Elementary and Nicole Wooten of Caleb’s Creek Elementary were also finalists.

Classified Employee of the Year:  Sandra Shropshire, Financial/Lead Secretary at East Forsyth High School was awarded Classified Employee of the Year.  Sandra has been at East Forsyth for 15 years. The other finalists were Margo Cochran of Northwest Middle and Angie Grace of Jefferson Elementary.

Assistant Principal of the Year:  Samantha Fitzgerald of Lewisville Elementary is the new Assistant Principal of the Year.  Samantha has been at Lewisville since 2016. She joined Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in 2013 as a teacher. Tamatha Fullerwinder of Moore Elementary and Kendra Scott of Ashley Academy were also finalists.

Principal of the Year:  Debra Gladstone was named Principal of the Year.  Debra is Principal at Mineral Springs Elementary and Middle Schools.  She has been with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools since 2000. Angie Choplin of Lewisville Elementary and Donald Wyatt of Sedge Garden Elementary were the other two finalists.