Jan Cooper is a vital member of the United Way family, and does incredible work behind the scenes. In 2016, her support was instrumental in the development of the If Challenge. A collaboration between United Way and the Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW), this prize competition identified and rewarded nonprofits with innovative ideas for reducing homelessness in the state.
As a member of the six-judge panel that evaluated solutions, Jan helped pick the three winning nonprofits, which together received a total of $55,000, as well as technological assistance and hardware, to get their plans in motion.
It was the success of the IF Challenge that led United Way to a new, even greater catalyst for driving change: United Way’s Venture Fund. A competitive, juried selection process will reward up to four nonprofits with $75,000 each so they can approach big problems in a new way.
Winning organizations will use innovative, collaborative approaches to achieve impact goals such as the safe, permanent housing of all individuals, the financial well-being of all adults, school readiness for all children, and college or career readiness for all high school graduates.
For Jan, “the Venture Fund is yet another example of United Way’s innovative approach to helping solve complex community issues. Creating systemic, scalable, and lasting change requires the expertise and collaboration of multiple constituents. UW demonstrates time and again its deep knowledge of the issues and an ability to bring together both public and private partners to create extraordinary impact in the communities it serves. I am proud to be part of such an amazing organization.”
Watching Jan and those who know her discuss her concerns and accomplishments, it is easy to see that she is serious about making a difference, and no surprise that an initiative she helped create has led to a new opportunity for generating a big impact: