We started 2022 with a refined vision for advancing economic justice in our region, identifying avenues to financial prosperity, and partnering with our communities on equity-driven solutions.
As we close out the year, we are grateful for continued collaboration with our network of nonprofit agencies, corporate partners, donors, volunteers, elected officials, and dedicated staff committed to promoting thriving communities.
2022 has been a year of progress for the recovery of our region. In this year-end review, we reflect on our collective accomplishments and look ahead to 2023.
Quality, Affordable Early Education and Out-of-School Time Programs
The year began with a sober reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic was far from over. In the first few days of 2022, our staff heard firsthand from our early education agency partners, exhausted by the overwhelming challenges they were experiencing due to the Omicron strain.
The new variant compounded the sector’s existing childcare workforce crisis. United Way’s Childcare Appreciation Fund raised more than $100,000 that was immediately deployed to our agency partners, helping to boost morale among staff and provide necessary equipment.
United Way was proud to remain the largest private funder of after-school and out-of-school time (ASOST) providers this year, and we continued to advocate in support of the field and equitable access to affordable, high-quality education.
We received a two-year, $4.5M grant from the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide wraparound supports to afterschool and out-of-school time (ASOST) programs and address the impacts on student learning caused by the pandemic.
In July we announced the distribution of $1.4M of funding to strengthen the quality of services in ASOST programs and expand access to enrichment opportunities for youth in 17 communities.
We partnered with the Commonwealth to continue the Summer Step Up program, a partnership with the Mass. Department of Early Education and Care to accelerate learning during the critical summer months for young children who had limited access to in-school experiences due to COVID-19. In the second year of the program, United Way helped distribute $8.5 million to 75 partner organizations and school districts across 30 communities, expanding and enhancing summer learning opportunities for more than 2,000 children.
We also continued our efforts to build up, support, and advocate for the family childcare workforce. In addition to testimony at public hearings, our Shared Services MA and DRIVE initiatives provided the training, coaching, and support for family childcare educators including licensing support and developmental screening training. The ceremonies held to celebrate these educators were some of our most powerful and uplifting events of the year.
Education and Career Pathways for Youth and Young Adults
This year marks three years since the launch of the Rising to the Challenge plan to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness in the City of Boston. The plan has led to a 44% reduction in youth homelessness, with over 500 young people housed and connected to education and employment opportunities since 2019.
Safe and Stable Housing
Earlier this year United Way was tapped to convene the City of Boston’s Special Commission to End Family Homelessness, working with the Supportive Housing Coalition, homeless service providers, local and state leaders, and individuals with lived experience to develop a plan to prevent and end family homelessness in Boston.
Throughout the year, Rep. Joan Meschino, United Way, and the Supportive Housing Coalition also continued their advocacy of House Bill 3838, a proposal to create a Massachusetts Flexible Housing Pool and expand supportive housing to enable swift, equitable and targeted deployment of funds to help adults, youth, and families experiencing chronic homelessness. We will continue advocating for our supportive housing bill during the next legislative session in the new year.
Economic Inclusion and Wealth Building
We kicked off 2022 working with our partners in the Boston Tax Help Coalition, which helps residents by guiding them through the tax preparation process and informing them of tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).
Boston Builds Credit, a partnership with the City of Boston’s Office of Financial Empowerment, launched a public information campaign to raise awareness of the financial coaching, credit-building workshops and resources made available through the initiative.
We were excited to host more of our signature events in-person this year. The 29th Annual Real Estate and Building Industry Breakfast raised over $600,000 in support of our work to prevent and end youth, young adult, and family homelessness.
We provided 1,000 expectant parents and caregivers throughout our region with infant care essentials and maternal and early childhood resources at our 12th Annual Community Baby Shower, held during Mother’s Day weekend.
Just last month we were thankful to have the support of 400 donors, including our corporate partners; 51 community agencies; and 1,500 volunteers, who joined us for our 23rd Annual Thanksgiving Project. This year, as consumer prices soared, we came together to help ease the financial burden of the holiday season for 20,000 families across 21 communities, our largest and most important distribution ever.
As we look to 2023, we are looking forward to even more inspiring collaboration and important work ahead. We will continue centering all our work around community voice, harnessing the unique position and intersectionality of our organization to draw on the knowledge of our stakeholders as we explore what’s possible to further community impact in our region.
We recently launched the application for United Way Community Action Grants, which will be awarded next year to local coalitions and grassroots organizations that are currently implementing initiatives or campaigns to affect local change and work to expand one of the four avenues to economic prosperity mentioned above.
We are pleased with this progress, excited for what lies ahead, and grateful to all of you for your partnership, insights and support. In the New Year, we look forward to continuing this important work and joining with you to further opportunities to promote a healthy, thriving community for us all.