United Way to distribute $32.9 million to increase financial opportunity and educational success in the region

August 24, 2017

BOSTON – United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV) is distributing $32.9 million this year to support nonprofit agencies and strategies that are most effective in preparing young children for kindergarten, ensuring more youth stay in school and graduate, and providing individuals and families with safe housing, healthy food and jobs that enable them to earn enough to support themselves.

United Way will advance educational success and financial opportunity through a variety of community partners and strategies.  Funds distributed this year will:

  • Support a network of over 190 high-performing community-based organizations focused on these issues;
  • Leverage federal, state and private grant dollars to impact community need;
  • Pilot innovative models and partnerships;
  • Advance public policy efforts to ensure lasting change at a statewide level; and
  • Distribute dollars into the community on behalf of donors who choose specific causes and organizations.

“United Way is founded on the belief that together, we can do more than any of us can alone,” said Michael K. Durkin, President at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  “We focus our funding on two building blocks of better lives: financial opportunity and educational success. Behind all of this is a movement of over 55,000 donors and more than 1200 corporate partners in our region who together are creating positive, lasting change for people in need.”

UWMBMV will award over $7.6M to agencies and initiatives that are that implementing effective strategies in workforce development, financial coaching and homelessness prevention.

  • United Way funding will help support 77 partner agencies focused on this work. Last year, these agency partners helped over 11,400 older youth and adults get the skills and credentials they need for employment, helped over 3,300 adults get jobs, and provided affordable housing and related supports to 12,400 families.
  • In addition to funding these agency partners, United Way will support a network of six  financial opportunity centers in Chelsea, Lawrence, Roxbury, Downtown Crossing, Lynn and Quincy. These centers continue to achieve impressive outcomes: clients who accessed services last year saw a 40 point credit score increase, a $258 average increase in their monthly net income and an average net worth increase of over $6,400.
  • Innovative initiatives include Pay for Success, a social financing partnership with the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Santander Bank, U.S. and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is reducing chronic individual homelessness in the state. In just two years, this Pay for Success effort has housed over 500 individuals, putting the six-year goal of housing 800 well within sight.
  • In addition to the $7.6 million being distributed to agencies and initiatives, United Way also raised over $1.5 million through the Community Investment Tax Credit to support affordable housing creation, small business development and neighborhood revitalization efforts of Community Development Corporations.

United Way will award $3.9M in high-quality early education programs and initiatives that give children the best possible foundation for their future learning and development.

  • United Way funding will support 65 partner agencies helping to ensure kindergarten readiness and high-quality early education and care. Last year, these agency partners helped ready 16,000 children for kindergarten and provided an additional 10,000 children with social or emotional challenges the supports they needed to stay on track.
  • Innovative initiatives that will be funded include DRIVE, developed in concert with United Way’s Private Equity/Venture Capital volunteers, which is the first effort of its kind to collect, aggregate and analyze developmental screening data across diverse programs in the City of Boston.  To date, DRIVE has screened over 4,000 young children and provides us with data to show the programs or neighborhoods that need more resources or quality training.  DRIVE will be expanding to new communities later this year.

United Way will award $7.7M to high-quality out-of-school time programs and initiatives that are helping to ensure youth develop critical social and academic skills and get the support they need. 

  • United Way will fund 99 partner agencies working to ensure more youth stay in school and graduate.  Last year, these partners provided academic support to 26,500 young people. Partner agencies also provided over 10,200 youth with leadership, work and life skills that prepare them to be productive, engaged citizens.
  • Innovative initiatives include United Way’s Summer Learning Collaborative, which helps low-income children grades K-3 to increase literacy rates and avoid summer learning loss.  This summer, over 3,000 students participated at 27 program sites in 14 communities.  An evaluation by Tufts University revealed 85% of participating children avoided summer learning loss and 64% maintained or increased reading skills.
  • Funds distributed by United Way this year will also support Youth Venture, which invests in teams of youth to develop, launch, manage and sustain community-benefitting projects, and provides them with ongoing training, mentoring and financial support to actualize their ideas.  Just last month, OCC Youth Unleashed, one of the Youth Venture teams from the class of 2015, was selected as a MassChallenge Startup Accelerator to further develop their “app” to connect more youth to programs at the City of Boston’s community centers.
  • Other United Way programs being funded this year that will help ensure the educational success of youth include BoSTEM, which is bringing STEM learning opportunities to Boston middle school students, the North Shore AmeriCorps program, which is increasing academic outcomes among English Language Learners in Lynn and Salem, and the Marian L. Heard Scholarship program, which provides students with financial support and mentoring throughout college.

United Way applies a performance-based funding model to provide the best possible stewardship of donor dollars.  This model also relies on proportional funding; the more resources United Way raises, the more funding it can award to agencies providing these critical services in the community.  United Way also plays a significant role advocating for public policies that not only help children, youth and families but also transform how people are helped.   United Way will award $300,000 to organizations engaging in public policy advocacy on issues such as affordable housing, job training and placement, and school readiness.

“United Way is fighting every day to solve some of the most complex and entrenched issues in our region, at a scale that no one organization or person can achieve alone,” said Karley Ausiello, Senior Vice President for Community Impact.  “Massachusetts spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year on special education and remediation for children who did not get the right start, unemployment benefits for young adults who did not graduate high school, and homeless shelters and motels for families who cannot afford stable housing. These are the problems we are working to solve with the funding we have available.”