From the blog posts you loved the most to the biggest events and moments of impact, these are our top 10 United Way moments of 2016.
1. Blog Post: Think your kids are too young to volunteer? Think Again.
This was far and away the most popular blog post of the whole year, as well as the most shared on social media! We love seeing our youngest donors out volunteering every year, and it was wonderful to see such a strong interest in families giving back together and teaching children about volunteerism. We look forward to seeing even more little volunteers out in 2017!
2. Thanksgiving Project
Our biggest volunteer effort of the year just keeps getting better, thanks to you! This year, we had over 500 volunteers helping pack and distribute 6,500 bags of Thanksgiving groceries – more than 250,000 pounds of food! – across our communities. Thanks to many helping hands, big and small, thousands of families in need had a happier holiday.
3. Two Youth Venture businesses awarded $10,000 in seed funding!
We had the incredible opportunity this spring to award two of our Youth Venture teams $10,000 to grow their businesses! These two teams – ReRunz, a thrift store in East Boston, and Youth Unleashed, a web app to connect youth to events around the city – rose to the top when they made their pitches. And since then, they continue to grow. Youth Unleashed recently won $6,000 from a Wentworth startup accelerator and just launched their app. We can’t wait to see what they do next!
4. Governor Charlie Baker talks (and tweets!) at the PE/VC Breakfast.
This year’s Private/Equity Venture Capital Breakfast raised an incredible $500,000 to advance high quality early education and early intervention programs for low-income children in the region. It was an honor to have Governor Baker as the keynote speaker!
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) December 2, 2016
5. Giving Tuesday!
This year marked our biggest Giving Tuesday effort, thanks to an anonymous donor who pledged to match up to $20,000 in gifts. Our supporters blew our expectations away, helping exceed our goal to raise $40,000 for the Family Fund. As a direct result, thousands of families will avoid losing their heat on the coldest nights of the year and will be able to stay warm and safe in their homes this winter – because of you.
6. From the blog: 20 Little Things you can do to boost summer learning (pre-k edition)
Our readers LOVED this blog post, along with the Summer Learning calendar filled with fun ideas and activities to do with young children. It may say summer, but these are great tips to keep in your pocket for any season when you’re spending time with a young child!
7. Celebrating the first graduating class of Marian L. Heard Scholars
This spring we celebrated the graduation of 12 United Way Marian L. Heard Scholars – the first graduating class of this program! Their unique paths have brought them from Liberia, to Lawrence, Boston and beyond, to colleges and universities across the region. Now, they continue to give back to their communities as they launch careers including nursing, law school, and more.
8. Hometown Huddle!
This year’s Hometown Huddle with the Patriots was a huge treat for the kids at Sarah Greenwood School in Dorchester, as players Matthew Slater, Jabaal Sheard and Jordan Richards helped make improvements to the school playground.
“Any time you get in the community and get into schools and work with kids, it’s a beautiful thing. Kids are our future and they have so much joy. I had so much fun being out here today,” Matthew Slater said. “I think I learned as much from them as they do from me…My hands are green from paint, so that means we had a good day.”
9. Expanding Americorps Program into Salem
Officials from Salem Public Schools, along with Congressman Seth Moulton, helped us launch a partnership that will bring service volunteers to help the city’s English language learning (ELL) school population, an expansion of United Way’s successful program in Lynn! Read more in the Salem News.
10. IF Challenge to End Family Homelessness
Through a unique new partnership with the Boston College School of Social Work this year, United Way challenged local nonprofits: What IF we could end family homelessness? Organizations submitted their most innovative plans and 3 winners were granted up to $20,000 and support from BC and United Way to implement their plans. We can’t wait to continue these efforts in 2017!
Whether you gave money, volunteered, or simply did something kind for someone in need this year, our community is stronger because of people like you. Thank you!