United Way of Massachusetts Bay Awards $255,000 to Local Coalitions and Grassroots Organizations as Part of New Community Impact Approach

BY Brigid Boyd

Apr 26 2023

BOSTON – United Way of Massachusetts Bay today announced the first set of grant awards to local coalitions and grassroots organizations under the organization’s new approach to community impact as it seeks to build more equitable communities and advance economic opportunity. The first round of new strategic investments totaling $255,000 are being awarded to 17 organizations driving community action throughout the region.

The one-year, unrestricted Community Action Grants were awarded to local coalitions and grassroots organizations actively implementing initiatives or campaigns to affect local change and expand one of the following four avenues to economic prosperity: economic inclusion and wealth building, early education and out-of-school time programs, education and career pathways for youth and young adults, and safe and stable housing. To apply, organizations needed to center their impact in at least one of United Way’s focus communities, share its vision of economic justice, and have BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ leadership driving their work.

The 17 organizations awarded Community Action Grants were celebrated at an event this morning, April 26, at WBUR CitySpace announcing the launch of the reimagined United Way of Massachusetts Bay. The organization’s new strategy is a community-centered vision to advance an economically-just region where access to financial wellbeing is universal and prosperity is shared across race and ethnicity.

“We learned through our listening sessions and town halls last year about so many small but mighty organizations driving important work on the ground in communities across our region,” said Bob Giannino, Ansin President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay. “We knew that if we are truly refining our strategy to promote and advance economic justice, we must invest in this social network of community action. These grants complement our larger, long-term organizational shift by signaling that we’re open to partnering with organizations and collectives in very different ways than we have historically.”

United Way received applications from 167 organizations, including 99 grassroots and 68 collective action applications for this new funding opportunity. Community voice was amplified throughout the application process, as United Way enlisted 24 community members, compensated for their participation in forming recommendations on grant recipients.

United Way incorporated learnings from the Community Action Grants process into the development of a larger Request for Partnerships, to be released next month, that will lead to multi-year grantmaking to drive population-level change. United Way remains committed to continuous involvement of community input in our grantmaking through agency focus groups, town halls, and additional Community Conversations. Those interested in participating in a future United Way grant review process can contact volunteer@supportunitedway.org.

More information about the 17 organizations is below:

  • Chelsea Black Community brings together Chelsea residents and community leaders of Black and African descent to advocate for resources and services to support residents of the city. The organization plans to engage in a strategic plan for resident outreach efforts to support funding for workforce development and entrepreneurship.
    • Greater Boston Interfaith Organization is based in Boston and Cambridge, with the mission to build power by developing local leaders to act together around issues that matter to community members.
      • Massachusetts Immigrant Collaborative. During the pandemic, the Rian Immigrant Center and 12 other partner organizations came together to form the Massachusetts Immigrant Collaborative (MIC). Serving cities across Eastern Massachusetts, the Collaborative addresses immigrant families’ most urgent needs by providing direct financial relief and other resources.
        • Maverick Landing Community Services is a multi-service organization in the heart of the Maverick Landing housing development in East Boston working to build and nurture a vibrant and equitable East Boston community by uplifting and supporting families, promoting community health, and nurturing resident and youth leadership and creativity.
          • The Latino Coalition -Haverhill empowers and inspires Haverhill Latinos to be active participants in every facet of the community, partnering with the Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and the City of Haverhill to explore the economic impact of Latino businesses in Haverhill, and taking an active role in three major areas: Small Business Support, Civic Engagement, and Education.
            • The Latino Support Network Inc. serves Lynn, Chelsea, Revere, and Salem. Their mission is to provide resources, services and work as a connector to support the integration process of the Latino community and other immigrant communities.
              • THRIVE Communities of Massachusetts, serving Lawrence and Lowell, disrupts cycles of incarceration, isolation, and social harm by organizing and supporting grassroots efforts for restorative reentry, community building, and leadership development among those most impacted by incarceration – returning citizens and local community members alike.
                • HarborCOV provides free safety and support services, along with housing and economic opportunities that promote long-term stability for people affected by violence and abuse. HarborCOV specializes in serving survivors who face additional barriers, such as language, culture and economic, by working to create connections to the supports survivors need to rebuild their lives through a continuum of options.
                  • La Colaborativa, based in Chelsea and serving Boston, Lynn, Chelsea, Everett and Revere, works closely with residents to address housing instability through advocacy and direct services for members facing eviction, homelessness, or violations of their rights as tenants.
                    • Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) serving Lynn and Salem, is a multifaith network of 59 congregations and the North Shore Labor Council that addresses inequities by working on grassroots campaigns to change policies that affect their communities long term.
                      • New England United 4 Justice (NEU4J) is an organization committed to promoting social, economic, and racial justice across Greater Boston, engaging and empowering families to speak up and become a part of the solution. They focus on worker rights, childcare, housing, and voter protections and engagement.
                        • Sarepta Women and Children Empowerment Center, Inc. is a collective action organization serving the Boston, Randolph, and Taunton areas, spreading a message of love, hope, and compassion. The consortium prioritizes education, a focus on cooperative economics, and capturing narratives.
                          • First Teacher is a community of parents and caregivers working together to prepare children for success in kindergarten and beyond. Since 2014, First Teacher has worked with families with at least one child under the age of 6 who live in Boston, primarily in Roxbury and Dorchester.
                            • Fortaleza, Inc.’s mission is to catalyze collective action among parents, educators, community members, and faith leaders to remove systemic barriers impacting educational outcomes and ensure a more equitable experience for Latinx students. Fortaleza works with Lowell Public Schools and other community partners to support Latino student success.
                              • Youth Justice & Power Union is a youth-led organization based in Boston for and by people of color. Their mission is to build collective power to address systemic issues happening in communities at the root and confront them through organizing and direct action.
                                • La Comunidad, Inc. La Comunidad’s mission is straightforward: full integration of Latino immigrants into the mainstream society of Everett (and surrounding towns of Chelsea, Revere, East Boston, Somerville, Lynn and Malden) through citizenship training, adult education, basic social services, and active civic engagement.
                                  • Taunton Diversity Network Inc. hosts community events and programs providing advocacy, education, outreach, and resources, striving to make the City of Taunton a better place to live, work and go to school for all people.

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