Lyft Helps Unemployed Mom Pursue Life-Changing Job

Think about the last job interview you had. Did you worry about how to get there and if you’d make it on time? Most of us simply hop in the car or take public transportation without a second thought. But for many Americans, particularly those in major metro cities, landing a job interview is only the first of many painstaking steps to actually getting a job.

When Jane* called 2-1-1 last month, she was out of options. A single mom of two young children living in Cleveland, she was unemployed and facing possible eviction. She’d lost her job in January and was paying rent using her federal income tax refund, which was running out. When she finally landed a job interview, she didn’t have the money to get to and from the interview. Without a car or easy and inexpensive public transportation, she was in a catch-22. Luckily, 2-1-1 Cleveland had access to free Lyft rides through a new partnership between the ride-sharing company and United Way. When Jane explained her dilemma, the 2-1-1 specialist assured her that she could provide her with roundtrip transportation at no cost.

 

Read more here.

All Hands on Deck for Student Success

Now more than ever, youth are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles when it comes to accessing higher education or landing a job. College costs are increasing, making it difficult to benefit from postsecondary schooling, and still more students are lacking the necessary skills for quality, sustainable employment.

In California, Orange County United Way is making higher education a reality through Destination Graduation. The program aims to reduce high school dropout rates, while bridging the education achievement gap for middle and high school students in high-need districts. Based in 12 high schools and 10 middle schools, Destination Graduation has prepared more than 26,000 low-income students with the skills they need to compete in the global economy.

And in Boston, high school students are sharpening their business skills with the help of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Through Youth Venture, a civic engagement and entrepreneurship program, young people develop and implement their own business ideas to improve their communities.

From career expos and afterschool mentorships, to financial management and college readiness courses, United Ways are providing myriad opportunities for youth to learn and grow. And you can do your part to help! By reaching out to your local United Way, you can find out where your support is needed most. Explore the possibilities. You don’t need a background in education or social work to make a mark. All you need is a willingness to give back. Visit your local United Way’s website to learn how they’re assisting kids right in your own community. Often, there will be opportunities listed for volunteers interested in donating their time or services.

  1. Wear your mentorship hat. Sometimes, all students need is someone to listen and support them as they navigate through their educational journey. As a volunteer mentor, you can use your experiences to inspire them to maximize their potential and reach for the stars. Your local United Way can help by pairing you with local students seeking mentorship.

 

  1. Suggest a career day. Ask your company if they would be willing to host a career day. Not only will senior leadership get the chance to communicate the value of your industry to potential future employees, but local youth will get an important glimpse into what it’s like working in a full-time job, giving them context for the future.

Connect with your local United Way today to learn how you can support the youth in your community.

Yesterday’s Progress Should Inspire Today’s Work

There is a lot of troubling news in the world today. Terrorism, inequality and distrust are just a few that come to mind. But when you dig further, you also see encouraging signs.

I recently came across a blog from Ben Carlson on his site, A Wealth of Common Sense. Ben and I share a similar perspective, and his blog highlights many good examples that remind us how far we’ve come.

For example:

  • 200 years ago, 85% of the world population lived in extreme poverty. 20 years ago, it was 29%. Today, only 9% live in extreme poverty.
  • The average American now retires at age 62. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51.
  • The U.S. high school graduation rate was just 9% in 1910. It jumped to 52% by 1940 and 83% today.

If these figures blow your mind, I’m not surprised. These examples don’t fit into the narrative broadcast by those who believe the world is spiraling out of control.

Of course, there is a lot of truth to concerns about growing inequality, our readiness for the jobs of the future, and the increasing failures of government – particularly at the national level. As a result, optimism and trust are declining in many parts of the world.

Surveys today typically find that only a small fraction of Americans trust the federal government to do the right thing. Yet more than 70 percent trusted their local government as of a couple years ago.

These numbers make me optimistic, because they present an opportunity for a bottom-up, community-based approach to improve our society.

It’s an approach where people stop shouting past one another and instead listen and attend town council meetings to discuss improving schools and public safety.

It’s an approach where people connect and find common ground that leads to real, scalable impact.

And it’s an approach where our newfound trust and progress creates opportunities for change at higher levels of society, including the national level.

If that sounds a lot like United Way’s model, that’s because it is. We’ve been bringing people together in communities around the world for more than a century. Today’s environment, where trust in local organizations is greater than in national institutions, offers a critical moment to make an impact.

There is still a lot of work to do. The richest one percent of the world controls half its wealth. American millennials today are far less likely than previous generations to out-earn their parents. And our education systems continue to leave too many young people behind.

But it’s graduation season. A time to believe in what we can achieve, both individually and together. So let me end with these reminders:

Let’s continue to believe in the power of communities and the progress we’re making.

Let’s continue to understand the work left to do on behalf of people and communities.

And let’s remain optimistic that people can – and will continue to – come together to change the world.

Press Release: United Way Forsyth County Recognizes Campaign Volunteers and Partner Agencies at Award Ceremony

WINSTON-SALEM, NC –  United Way Forsyth County Recognizes Campaign Volunteers and Partner Agencies  at Award Ceremony

On May 3, 2018, The United Way of Forsyth County hosted a thank you and award ceremony honoring partners, staff, volunteers and donors for their work during the 2017 campaign at the Center for Design Innovation.

Winners included:

Laura Harrell, Hall of Fame Award, Twin City Warehouse/Adele Knits- recognized for her thirty years of service as a campaign chair.

Wake Forest University, Personal Touch Award; Barbara Walker, the 2017 Campaign Chair, was also recognized for her hard work and organization of a successful campaign.

Campaign Chair of the Year Award: Dave Riser, Reynolds American Inc.; Riser was recognized for being instrumental in Reynolds American’s campaign which reached a goal of 2.2 million dollars.

Shining Star Award: Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC; Goodwill was recognized as a partner agency and true advocate for the United Way.

Advocates of the Year: Jennie Grant- Heaton, BB&T , Trisha Coleman, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center; as leaders of our Young Leaders United and Women’s Leadership Council affinity groups.

Leader of the Year: Tony Smits John Deere-Hitachi, recognized for the company’s 65% participation rate and 31% increase campaign dollars raised.

Spirit of the Community Award: Quality Oil-recognizing their leadership as keen advocates and supporters of the United Way.

Special Guest Speakers included Andrea Kurtz, Senior Director, Housing Strategies who updated the attendees on the progress of the ten-year plan to end chronic homelessness. In 2006, the city of Winston-Salem, and Forsyth County adopted the Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. United Way of Forsyth County was chosen for its expertise and capacity to leverage community resources, coordinate collaborative projects and improve the system for all people experiencing a housing crisis. Since 2006, Chronic Veteran Homelessness has been eradicated and the number of the chronic homeless has been reduced from over 200 in 2006 to 17 (as documented in the January, 2018 Point in Time Count). Kurtz noted, “We continue to work towards a day when individuals are referred to their talents and contributions and not their housing status.”

Denita Mitchell, Program Director and former Client of the YWCA Hawley House spoke about her own recovery from substance abuse and how she moved from being a client of the Hawley House program to a member of the leadership team.  “I am very thankful to the United Way for supporting a program that helped me make a difference in my life”.

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer noted, “One thing every strong community needs is a strong United Way. We are very fortunate to have a large network of partners that work with us collaboratively to ensure our entire community has access to a good life, as well as  our community volunteers who advocate passionately for those most in need. Thank you joining us in celebrating what it means to Live United over the past 95 years”.

 

Pictured: l-r: Dave Riser, VP External Relations, Reynolds American, Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO, United Way Forsyth County,  Dr. John D. McConnell, CEO Emeritus , Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

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

 

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What Every Kid Needs to Do to be Healthier

Now that warmer temperatures are here, it is a great time to get outdoors with kids to enjoy the sunshine and help them get their daily dose of physical activity. With childhood obesity on the rise and kids spending more than seven hours a day in front of screens, it’s more important than ever that children make daily exercise part of their routine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that kids and teens get at least one hour of physical activity per day. Activities like jumping rope, running, climbing on monkey bars and gymnastics are fun ways that kids can fulfill their daily quota, while also strengthening their bones and muscles.

Craig Williams, director of the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre at the University of Exeter in England, tells CNN that exercise should include muscle-strengthening activities at least three days a week.

“One of the most important reasons that children should be active is for their bone health, as it is shown that in the adolescent years, 33% to 43% of total bone mass is acquired,” he says.

A few other ways you can make exercise fun for kids are:

  • Turn a walk around the neighborhood into a game, or incorporate short races from mailbox to mailbox, for example
  • Take them to the playground or a nearby park to run around with their friends
  • Sign them up for a team sport, like soccer or baseball

One cautionary note: Girls tend to let exercise slide once they reach adolescence, according to Dr. Stephanie Walsh, medical director of child wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She tells CNN that the goal is to encourage teen girls to get their daily exercise without introducing body images. Dr. Walsh’s tip for parents? Don’t ever associate it with weight or weight loss.

“Physical activity has so many other benefits that has nothing to do with weight,” Walsh says. “When you’re talking to kids about that activity, talk to them about the benefits, better sleep, better concentration, feeling better, being stronger, increased muscle mass, all those things that are really important about it, but don’t focus on weight.”

Bottom line: Children and adolescents need 60 minutes of physical activity each day, whether they fit it in all at once or do short bursts of activity throughout the day. The goal is for them to get their heartbeat up, and to instill in them healthy habits that they’ll carry into adulthood.

For more resources on healthy living, check out this blog about reducing stress and this post about how to encourage healthy habits in your children.

Press Release: United Way Helped More Than 2 Million Youth Prepare for College, Work & Life

Alexandria, Va. (May 2, 2018) – United Way Worldwide today announced it helped more than 2 million youth (ages 14 – 29) gain the knowledge, skills and credentials to succeed in school, work and life in 2016. That’s based on the 2017 Global Results Snapshot[1], a set of indicators that local United Ways report annually to demonstrate combined impact across communities. United Way invested in or led efforts to serve students in elementary through high school, ensuring that more students showed up for school, earned passing grades, developed soft skills, and received necessary training for success in school and ultimately the workplace to set them up for productive futures.

“The Global Results Snapshot demonstrates our progress against some of society’s toughest problems that prevent young people from gaining the skills and training they need to be relevant, get on a career track and secure successful futures,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. President of United Way Worldwide. “To make our communities strong, safe environments where everyone can thrive, we must continue to work together to ensure our youth emerge in the workforce ready to compete in the fast-changing world of work and primed for success.”

United Way achieved the following results:

  • 115,863 youth received job skills training
  • 98 percent of youth graduated on time
  • 80 percent of youth developed soft skills such as communication and time management
  • 86 percent maintained satisfactory or improved school attendance
  • 66 percent of youth gained post-secondary employment, further education or credentials

United Way also worked with volunteers, partner agencies and corporate partners to:

  • Advocate for 98 policies that promote youth success at the local or state level. In Seattle, WA, United Way helped enact the Homeless Youth Act, to ensure that youth discharged from institutions had a place to live. In Orange County, CA, United Way is leading an effort called Destination Graduation, which has helped more than 26,000 students stay in school
  • Train 7,583 staff in afterschool and summer programming, that provide middle and high school students supplemental resources, including mentoring, tutoring, academic enrichment in the arts and STEM subjects as well as exposure to college opportunities and career possibilities
  • Engage more than 3,500 United Way community partners – like Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Scouts, 4-H and more – to provide enriching experiences after school and during the summer to help youth succeed

For nearly 130 years, United Way has been the unifying force that brings together community leaders, organized labor, faith-based groups, corporations, nonprofit organizations and governments. United Way is a worldwide network dedicated to building a better life and stronger community for everyone, serving over 61 million people each year.

An infographic of the 2016 Global Results Snapshot on youth success is here. To learn more about United Way’s work to fight for every person in every community, click here.

About United Way’s Global Results Snapshot

The Global Results Snapshot is a common, limited set of indicators that United Ways report on annually to demonstrate our shared impact across communities. The framework aggregates data across United Ways based on indicators in key impact areas: childhood success, youth success, economic mobility, access to health, and community engagement to demonstrate the collective investments the network is making to drive community change deliver results for individuals, families and communities.

[1] *The Global Results Snapshot represents data from 154 United Ways, reporting 2016 data in 2017 that represents 147,474,530 people in their respective metropolitan areas.

About United Way

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.

Nest ‘Power Project’ Donating One Million Thermostats to Help U.S. Families Save Energy

The smart home is often touted as delivering conveniences like automation and remote control. One often overlooked aspect of installing a smart thermostat is power savings, with Nest launching a new Power Project initiative to help low-income Americans with their electric bills. Read more here .

Get Thrifty: 3 Ways Your Donations Could Change Lives

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are close to 41 million people currently living in poverty, many of whom would love to have your gently used items. So, in the spirit of spring cleaning, here are three ways you can make the most of your overlooked items. Read more here .

The Hidden Crisis on College Campuses: Many Students Don’t Have Enough To Eat

Caleb Torres lost seven pounds his freshman year of college — and not because he didn’t like the food in the dining hall. A first-generation college student, barely covering tuition, Torres ran out of grocery money halfway through the year and began skipping meals as a result.

He’d stretch a can of SpaghettiOs over an entire day. Or he’d scout George Washington University campus for events that promised free lunch or snacks. Torres told no one what he was going through, least of all his single mom.

“She had enough things to worry about,” he said. Read more here .

Turn Your Spring Cleaning into Community Impact

Spring is finally here, a time when flowers bloom, daylight lasts longer and the smell of freshly cut grass lingers in the air—unless you live in the northeast, where snow is blanketing the streets and smothering dreams of warmer days ahead. Whether you’re outdoors soaking in the sun, or inside staying warm, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning. This year, consider adding community impact to your list of things to do. Here are four ways you can give back through your spring-cleaning routine:

Change lives by cleaning out your closet: According to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report, there are more than 500,000 homeless people in America. When it’s time to conduct your spring cleaning, peruse your wardrobe—or your child’s—and see if there’s anything that can be donated to your local thrift store. An old sweater or pair of shoes may not be useful to you, but it could mean the world to someone in need.

Put your elbow grease to greater use: Have a slew of chores you need to tackle? When you’ve finished fixing the stairs and spreading the mulch, flex your muscles for the greater good—call your local United Way and ask if there are any community-building projects in the area. Around this time of year, building homes and creating community gardens is common. By volunteering your time, you can help house a family or rebuild a low-income community in disrepair.

Be mindful of your water usage: When you’re watering your lawn or plants, it’s easy to get carried away or forget to turn off the faucet. Today, in celebration of World Water Day, do your part by saving water when you can. From checking your pipes, faucets and toilets for leaks, to turning off the bathroom faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, you can help tackle local water shortages and contribute to a water-saving culture. Every drop helps.

Rethink your spring break: Switch up your family vacation this spring. Instead of trekking to the beach, head over to a local food bank and lend a helping hand. Food banks are always looking for volunteers to help with packing meals, sorting non-perishables and providing nutritious meals to those individuals experiencing homelessness or hunger. Not only will you be helping others in their time of need, but you’ll be teaching your kids the importance of volunteerism.
Unexpected snowfall aside, spring is a perfect time for you to make a mark in your community. So, slap on those sneakers, roll up your sleeves and get going—a few hours of your time will make a lifetime of difference for your neighbors in need.

BY: NICK THOMAS