United Way today announced a strategic shift in how it will invest donor dollars to achieve the organization’s objectives within its Income Impact Area. The shift in strategy is intended to speed positive community change by tactically investing to make a measurable difference.
The goal: moving 5,000 Summit County residents from financial dependence to independence.
To move more aggressively in the direction of driving financial independence, United Way drew on research and sought input from a broad range of partners to gauge where progress needs to be made. When the United Way income initiative is fully implemented in two to four years, the organization’s income area investments will be directly tied to financial independence results.
“We are putting this high-level goal in place—a goal that essentially everyone will agree, when met, will make our community a better place for everyone,” said, Jim Mullen, United Way president and CEO.
Jim Mullen said the strategy marks the first time the organization has used a clearly-defined, community-based metric to achieve one of its aims.
United Way funding for a two-year cycle will be invested beginning in 2016 in quality programs in direct and measurable alignment with one or more of United Way’s strategies to achieve the financial independence of 5,000 Summit County residents.
United Way’s new income strategy is focused on a three-pronged approach:
Building up Individuals
o Knowledge of/access to benefits and services
o Meeting basic needs
o Earned Income Tax Credits/Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
· Financial Education/ Empowerment
o Access to mainstream banking services
o Credit repair and debt reduction
· Workforce Advancement
o Education, training, coaching/mentoring
o Bridges Summit County partner organizations
Building up Families
· Summit County Fatherhood Initiative
· Bridges Summit County
· Summit County Reentry Network
· Basic needs
Building up Community
· Community education/bridge building/social capital
· Economic development, entrepreneurship, neighborhood revitalization
· Culture of inclusion and empowerment
“Everyday life is challenging for thousands of Summit County citizens,” said David Jennings, director of Akron-Summit County Public Library, United Way board member and United Way’s chair of Community Impact. ““This new strategy will align community efforts to help lower-income individuals and families, and empower them with the skills needed to maximize employment and grow a better financial future.”
“The work to move people to financial independence requires collaboration across all sectors,” said Russ Pry, Summit County Executive and United Way board member. “With United Way as a key partner we can accomplish things no organization, no individual and no government can accomplish on its own.”
“Partnership will be a critical element of success for United Way’s new income strategy,” said Christine Amer Mayer, president of the GAR Foundation and board vice-chair for United Way. “United Way board members and staff are committed to thinking differently about partnerships as the only way to make real progress toward this goal.”
Learn more about United Way’s new Income Investment Strategy at uwsummit.org/income.