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United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is intent on breaking the cycle of childhood poverty in our region. The non-profit, long known for making significant investments in non-profit organizations that serve children and families has, for the first time since its inception, sharpened its strategic focus to achieve one specific outcome: reducing childhood poverty. To that end, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is making the largest financial and relational investment of its kind — $8.2 million dollars and pledged support to bring organizations and resources together over the next five years – to ensure children residing in low-income households receive the support they need to be successful.
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is activating its new strategic plan by making investments through three specific areas: Community Transformation, Community Strengthening, and Community Safety Net. Each strategy, in addition to funding area non-profits, includes a larger commitment by United Way to create a strong network of organizations that will work together to share knowledge and data, volunteer resources, best-practices, and ideas to overcome barriers to success.
“United Way is committed to increasing our impact and relevancy for the community,” said Keith Thomajan, CEO of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. “With 40% of local kids growing up in low-income families, our new focus on breaking the cycle of childhood poverty in our region makes real our commitment to be a community problem-solver. United Way has the unique ability to reach, inspire and mobilize tens of thousands of local people, corporations, and social sector partners; our commitment is to focus and crowd-source this community’s good intentions in ways that lead to better educational, economic and health outcomes for kids and families.”
Over the next five years, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette will invest its resources (money, time, data, knowledge, research, volunteerism, financial acumen, and marketing) to bring like-minded organizations together through three different strategies:
Community Transformation: The Community Transformation strategy is a collective impact model with a long-term focus on transforming impoverished communities. United Way issued this grant-making strategy to bring together area non-profits, businesses, and government agencies to combat childhood poverty in our area by developing a common agenda, shared data and measurement goals, research, and activities. United Way’s Community Transformation strategy is a five-year, $3.75 million-dollar commitment.* (*Final funding levels to the selected non-profits and these initiatives are contingent on the funding United Way receives as an organization to its Breaking the Cycle fund).
United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is pleased to award the collaborative “Successful Families 2020” with the Community Transformation grant. Dozens of proposed collaboratives applied; only one was selected.
“Successful Families 2020” is a collaboration between Albina Head Start, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Latino Network, Metropolitan Family Service (MFS), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), and Self-Enhancement, Inc. (SEI). The Multnomah County-based organizations’ goal is to create a Blueprint for Success in Communities of Color. The collaborative has created a four-pronged approach to helping this population: (1) Identifying the best-practices that have best served this population through tangible evidence, (2) Creating a consultancy and training protocol for other non-profits interested in serving this population, (3) Establishing a specific agenda to address local, state and federal policies impacting communities of color, and (4) Creating a funding plan to eliminate disparities within communities of color. For more information on “Successful Families 2020” please visit United Way’s website at: http://www.unitedway-pdx.org/community-transformation-investment
Community Strengthening: United Way’s Community Strengthening strategy is designed to support a stronger network of non-profits who are leading the way in reducing poverty for children and families in our region. A total of 30 emerging and established non-profits serving low-income and culturally specific communities across the metropolitan area were selected and will work together as a cohort to create and participate in learning communities designed to share experiences, exchange data and information, and build collective knowledge around new and promising practices to improve outcomes for low-income families and their children. United Way’s Community Strengthening grant-strategy is a three-year, $4.5 million-dollar commitment with grants awarded up to $50,000 per non-profit, per year.* (*Funding to the selected non-profits is contingent on the funding United Way receives as an organization to its Breaking the Cycle fund).
United Way is pleased to award the following organizations with Community Strengthening grants:
Clackamas County: Clackamas Service Center, Clackamas Women’s Services, Todos Juntos
Clark County: Council for the Homeless, Second Step Housing, YWCA Clark County
Multnomah County: Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Bridge Meadows, Children First of Oregon, Friends of Children – Portland, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Human Solutions, I Have a Dream Foundation, Innovative Changes, IRCO: Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Latino Network, LifeWorks NW, Metropolitan Family Service, NAYA Family Center, Portland Community Reinvestment, Open Meadow, Reading Results, Self Enhancement, Inc., Urban League of Portland, and Verde.
Washington County: Adelante Mujeres, Bienestar, Centro Cultural de Washington County, Community Action, and Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation
For more information on the respective non-profits awarded Community Strengthening grants, please visit United Way’s website at: http://www.unitedway-pdx.org/community-strengthening-investments
Community Safety Net: United Way’s Community Safety Net investments are one-year in length and provide critical aid for our most vulnerable families. Safety Net investments are designed to meet housing, food, heat, utilities, and other basic needs. They are also designed to improve alignment and collaboration, and to ensure families receive comprehensive, consistent services.
“We are ecstatic to collaborate with these outstanding organizations on breaking the cycle of childhood poverty,” continued Thomajan. “When we work together, we can amplify the impact we are making in our community specific to student success, family stability, and connected communities. Quite simply, we are better together.”
A Community Effort
Breaking the cycle of childhood poverty requires the effort of everyone in our community. Community members interested in supporting the effort are encouraged to participate in >24 (“More than 24”), an online day of giving dedicated to breaking the cycle of childhood poverty right here in our region. On June 11, individuals can visit United Way’s micro-site www.morethan24.org to donate their time and money to help fund United Way’s Breaking the Cycle fund.
About United Way
Founded in 1920, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is a non-profit organization focused on breaking the cycle of childhood poverty in the four-county (Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington in Oregon and Clark County is SW Washington) region. Through strategic partnerships with area nonprofits, businesses, faith and government organizations, United Way is harnessing the collective impact of individuals across the metro area to improve the lives of children and their families, advance equity, and strengthen communities by providing them with the tools and resources they need to be successful. For more information about and to get involved, please visit our website www.unitedway-pdx.org.