By Adam Baker
United Way of Greater Cincinnati is dedicating 80 percent of the funds it invests in initiatives and agency partner programs to help children and families move out of poverty.
More than 100,000 families – 1 in 4 – in our region struggle to meet basic needs. This investment decision fulfills a promise made by the organization in 2016 to boldly and strategically lead the charge to address poverty. It was approved by United Way’s Board of Directors on December 12 along with an ambitious new goal of helping 10,000 families across the region move out of poverty in the next four years. This is inclusive of the Child Poverty Collaborative’s goal of helping 5,000 families in Hamilton County and scales the goal across United Way’s 10-county, three state service region.
“Poverty is the single most challenging issue facing our community,” said Julia Poston, United Way of Greater Cincinnati board chair and EY office managing partner. “Far too many people are struggling, and United Way is positioned to lead, innovate and invest in solutions that lift our community.”
During the last 18 months, United Way has been working with nearly 100 community volunteers and all its agency partners on a new strategy for investments to better help people in poverty. Local nonprofits responded overwhelmingly in support of this new direction, which helps families build on their strengths and overcome their barriers.
“This is not business as usual,” said Rob Reifsnyder, United Way of Greater Cincinnati president. “In addition to aligning our investments to tackle poverty, United Way is working with community and agency partners to boldly change the way services and programs are delivered.”
United Way sees a comprehensive, family-centered approach, where multiple services support a family during the journey out of poverty, as one of our community’s greatest opportunities. More than 70 percent of United Way’s investment will be in collaborative partnerships of agencies working together or in “wrap-around” services – those that meet the holistic needs of families. Key investments also have been made in organizations that will directly track progress for families moving out of poverty.
“Poverty is a complex problem, and there are no simple solutions,” said Ross Meyer, United Way of Greater Cincinnati senior vice president and chief impact officer. “Isolated services and one-off programs are not sufficient. Ultimately, to reach our goal, we all need to work toward systemic change.”
Allocations for this investment cycle are made to United Way’s 144 partner agencies beginning in 2018. Commitments are made with partners for the next four years. New partners will be evaluated after two years.