Reflective of our Community: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Progress
In the last five years, United Way of Summit & Medina (UWSM) has successfully diversified its board and staff to better reflect the community it serves. Currently, 23% of Summit County’s population is diverse, or composed of people of color.
- The number of diverse UWSM Board members has increased from 4 in 2014-15 to the current 12, which represents 23% of the 51-person board. Women board members have increased from 13 to 20 and now represent 39% of the board. We also know that true diversity, equity and inclusion is not just about numbers, its about making people feel welcome, respected and giving them a meaningful ability to be heard, participate and feel valued. Our Diversity Equity Inclusion committee is a part of all that we do and we will continue to drive forward in our work to do even better in this regard.
- During the same period (2014-2020), UWSM staff increased from 28 to 68 people as our organization went through significant change and adopted new goals and a new approach to serving the community. That profound change included a dramatic increase in staff diversity. This is not a new concept to us. We have been intentionally working on it for over 5 years.
- In just the last five years, the number of diverse staffers has increased from 2 to 24 and now represents 35% of the total staff.
- Women staff members have increased from 22 to 52, 76% of current staff. Our leadership team is also diverse.
- In 2016 the leadership had no diversity, currently the leadership team has 3 of 7 members who are people of color and 4 are women. We value all people and want their involvement, experiences and ideas.
- In addition, United Way of Summit & Medina County and its leadership have been committed to this work internally and externally within our community and all staff has been assessed and coached through the Intercultural Development Inventory. This tool is widely applauded for its ability to help organizations assess and react to diversity within the workplace.
- Again, the value of diversity is not just captured in a number. Our more diverse board and staff has helped conceive, support and execute programs that are serving more people more successfully in our community, a larger percentage of are also people of color. Here are the facts about those programs.
Community Impact Programs
Dialing 2-1-1 helps people throughout our community find local resources when they don’t know where to turn for help. Services include supplemental food and nutrition programs, substance abuse treatment, disaster services and more. 2-1-1 answered 70,703 calls and 3,057 texts for help in 2018. Since the pandemic began in Mid-March, 2-1-1 has seen an 74% increase in call volume.
Coordinates access to homeless shelters, permanent supportive housing and rent assistance for individuals and families living in Summit and Medina counties who are homeless or facing eviction.
Helps provide meals for individuals and families in need in our community. The program has made more than 4,500 deliveries serving 76,000 meals to cities throughout the counties we serve.
Financial Empowerment Center (FEC)
This program was created through a partnership with the City of Akron in 2018, the FEC provides free, one-on-one financial coaching, helping Summit and Medina county residents acquire the skills to budget and save, access safe and affordable banking and raise their credit scores. More than 1,100 clients received financial coaching through the FEC since the program’s inception, decreasing total debt by nearly $2 million. All of this in the first 18 months of launch.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Provides free tax preparation assistance to working families and individuals, helping them take advantage of valuable benefits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit. VITA clients received more than $5.12 million in tax refunds while saving $764,000 in tax preparation fees.
College and Career Academies
United Way works with Akron Public Schools’ College and Career Academies to build partnerships with local businesses – providing valuable hands-on learning experiences for students and strengthening the education to employment pipeline. Over 1,200 students participated in the Freshman Academy in the 2018-2019 school year. Since the program’s inception, nearly 2,700 students have earned industry credentials to enable them to grow into the skilled employees and business leaders our community needs.
Family Resource Center
A safe, welcoming place in a school where parents and caregivers can get information, assistance and referrals to community resources – from financial assistance to peer support and more. It connects students and their families to health and social services, academic enrichment and other services, so that students, schools and neighborhoods can succeed. Our two Family Resource Centers at the Helen Arnold and Robinson community learning centers have served more than 675 individuals.
Mails one book per month to preschool-age children – at no cost to their families. Every child from birth through age 5 in Summit or Medina county is eligible. More than 16,500 kids in Summit and Medina counties receive free books every month from Imagination Library.
We are proud of the work we do and the impact that it has. Being a continuous improvement organization, we believe we can always do better, and we want to. We welcome any opportunity to learn where we can improve, be better internally and make a bigger impact externally.