Tag Archives: collaboration

Youth Thrive Issues a Call to Action

Youth Thrive issues call to actionIt can be tough for some young people growing up in Wake County. You might be struggling to graduate, or you might just be the one in five high school students who is a victim of bullying.  You might even feel hopeless and be thinking about suicide.

Everyone agrees we should be there for our kids, but how do we make sure that all youth thrive in our community?

That’s our goal at Youth Thrive – to bring together all the people and organizations in Wake County that serve our youth, and help them to help our young people.

Earlier this year, we convened over 100 community members from 40 organizations to create the Wake County Strategic Planning Blueprint – A Guide for Collective Impact for Wake County Youth  that will guide how we work together for the benefit of our young people.  We identified some 100 strategies – there’s lots of need in our community – but it also became clear that we’d have to focus, or it would be hard to make a difference.

So at our October “Call to Action” day, we took the next step, and are committed to make a difference in two key areas:  1) youth educational success, and 2) emotional well-being to prevent bullying and youth suicide.

Our community, government, and youth-serving organizations are prepared to stand up for our young people by working together to ensure our youth develop into successful adults.

Our goals are to ensure that:

  • 95% of third grade students read on grade level
  • 95% of students graduate high school ready for college and career
  • Youth bullying & suicides are eliminated

How are we going to do that?  Here are our “High Five” action items:

  1. Collect and share data on youth programs and outcomes.
  2. Train staff in youth organizations on suicide prevention and network together.
  3. Participate in a local Bullying Prevention Campaign by providing parents and youth with information on bullying, and appropriate social-emotional responses.
  4. Provide access to books for students, promote students choosing books of interest to encourage the love of reading and encourage 20 minutes of daily reading.
  5. Promote access to college by working to ensure that by 9th grade, all students have the opportunity to visit at least one college.

Survival guide to bullyingYes, these are big challenges.   We need everyone, working together, to make our “High Five” actions successful.  We need you, too.  Join one of our action teams on educational success, emotional well-being, or data.  Work with one of our organizations that serve youth in our community.

Together, by working toward a shared agenda, and by engaging in mutually reinforcing activities toward our goals, we can help ensure that all youth thrive.

NOTE:  UWGT is the fiscal sponsor and a funder of Youth Thrive.

Working together to transition from homelessness to housing

UPS

BY Candice Delgado, Community Engagement Fellow

Upon accepting this community engagement fellowship opportunity, I was told that every day would be something different and each day I would learn something new. Being that I have been part of United Way’s community for over a month, I now know this to be true. I had the honor of spending Friday with UPS as they donated their time volunteering in Durham with Housing for New Hope. This was an incredible day spent seeing a different side of Durham, hearing firsthand accounts of being homeless in Durham, and seeing the emotions of a person as they were removed from homelessness and placed into their own home.

Housing for New Hope is one of United Way’s agency partners working within a collaborative that works to move families and individuals out of homelessness into permanent housing as quickly as possible. Employees explained the process that homeless individuals or families have to go through to receive help from Housing for New Hope. Being so far removed from understanding all that someone facing homelessness must endure, I learned quite a lot and feel very frustrated for the barriers that stand in the way for these agencies working so hard to help more people get out of homelessness. I also feel disappointed that as much as Durham has grown in the past few years, housing in this area is not accessible to many people. A recent article in The Indy states the reality of trying to work and afford housing in Durham, “Condos and apartments are being built—or in the pipeline—throughout the center of the city, Durham Central Park, West Village and most recently at the old Hendrick dealership off Dillard Street. Yet not a single unit is affordable for the average public school teacher, firefighter, police officer, waiter or parking attendant.” Despite the lack of access to affordable housing and the ability for these homeless adults to find a source of income, Housing for New Hope is moving more and more people into permanent housing.

 

A group of 15 UPS employees and myself moved an individual out of Urban Ministries and into their new home. Moving heavy furniture inside, stocking the pantry and refrigerator, and turning an empty space into a home were just several ways we helped assist this person with their move. However, for this individual-this is their home, their salvation from the daily struggles they faced on the streets, their chance at starting over. Powerful emotions were felt by all that witnessed this moment, a moment that I will not forget.

Throughout the day, Housing for New Hope employees shared that homelessness is a large problem in our community, and it would be near impossible to tackle it all alone as a single agency, but partnering with other agencies that are seeking the same goal helps them use their resources together and reach more people which in the end gets more families off of the street and into stable housing. The efficiency of working together and working towards long-term solutions is why United Way of the Greater Triangle is investing in collaborative work.

As I went home on Friday evening to my comfortable, safe home, I could not stop thinking about that one individual in their new home – what must they be feeling now that it’s quiet and no one is there. Are they scared? Are they lonely? If they doubt themselves at any moment, who is there to support & encourage them? I felt a bit more at ease when I remembered that for one, they’ll have a collaborative team of organizations that will work together to ensure their path towards success. 

On Friday all I could think about was this person, and I think that’s important for me to hold onto, because I’ll remember that person when I tell this story to others. I’ll remember them when I go out to dinner in Durham only a few blocks from where their new home is located. I’ll remember them when I see the face of another homeless person in Durham.  I will continue to seek out opportunities to be more engaged in the community. Working at United Way of the Greater Triangle has already opened so many more doors out into the community which has opened my eyes to see the community in a different light and engage more meaningfully. Although I’m one person, I know that I can help make a difference, if even in a small way like moving furniture, to ease the hardship on some of my Triangle neighbors.

Lessons learned about community engagement

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BY Karen Johnson

My exposure to United Way had been through the lens of my company’s annual campaign and the NFL ads during football season. I had not practiced due diligence on learning about United Way. Each year I gave by checking a box and checking one more thing off of my to-do list.

When I walked through the doors to interview and ultimately work as a Community Engagement Fellow at United Way of the Greater Triangle, I silently scolded myself for aligning UWGT with organizations whose brands outshine their results.  Here in the Triangle among cutting edge technology companies, three prominent universities and a growing base of entrepreneurs, sits one of only four United Way organizations in the country that is changing its business model to adapt to the complex social issues and address these issues at a systems level for immediate impact and lasting change. I had no idea!

I was about to get schooled and that 15-week education challenged my perception of UWGT, the Triangle area, and collaboration.  Here is what I learned and continue to learn:

  1. The United Way of the Greater Triangle doesn’t go it alone – and neither should I. When the leaders at UWGT realized that a new strategic direction was needed to evolve and make a greater impact, they reached out to partner agencies, community leaders and businesses to help develop the strategy.  This was a community effort.

In my role I reach out to businesses to help them develop their annual campaign and year-round engagement with us. The term “help” means that I first listen, ask questions, listen again, research options and then make recommendations based on the company’s goals.  It’s rewarding to help a company reach its philanthropic goals in support of our community.

  1. The Triangle is a great place for me to live. I love ACC basketball, the arts and access to great southern food. Every night I have the security of a place to sleep. I have food to eat when I am hungry. This is my reality, but it is not the reality for so many children and families here in the Triangle. The statistics will wake you up–like how 1 in 5 children in our community don’t have enough to eat on any given day. They may set you on fire like they did me. They could even inspire you to act in ways that surprise you.

Before becoming a Community Engagement Fellow I gave presentations to corporate executives, engineers, designers and managers for years. My comfort level in public speaking was met with a sleepless night and a dread that rivaled nothing else. However, when I began to talk about the issues in the Triangle and more importantly what UWGT is doing about those issues I became energized. Honestly at times I didn’t know myself.  I became comfortable and happy – on stage!

  1. Collaboration is the key to making a difference. Last year we talked about our agencies forming collaboratives and working together to solve an issue with common goals and metrics. Now we have 22 collaboratives that are funded by the Community Impact Fund. It is a new way of working together and everyone is finding their way.

“Oh, you mean I have to do it too?”  It can be hard to work in group on a project or issue when you already have a vision of what the outcome will look like.  Thankfully I work with some really bright, creative and interesting Fellows who make working collaboratively fun and produce outcomes that are so much better than what I could do alone.

This is my second year as a Community Engagement Fellow and I am finding it equally as rewarding and fun as last year.  Our story at the United Way of the Greater Triangle is an easy story to tell and I love telling it because we are innovative, engaged and determined to make an impact in our community.

 

Finding & Growing a New Community

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BY Sarah Williams – Community Engagement Fellow

One of my favorite books of all time is Milton Mayeroff’s “On Caring” where he says that in order to care, one must KNOW and GROW the person, idea, or thing that one cares about. This is a framework I’ve adopted for my life, work, and community involvement. I believe that in order to care, we must know and grow the people, work, and community we are involved in. That is why I was drawn to the Community Engagement Fellow position. As a newbie to North Carolina (I moved in May after finishing grad school), I knew this position would give me a chance to learn the area and make an impact – to know and grow the triangle.

So far in my time at United Way, I’ve been deeply saddened and surprised but also excited and encouraged. First, I was saddened and surprised to learn about all the issues that are happening in this amazing place. My husband and I moved here excited to live in the area that is ranked #1 for young professionals, #4 happiest in the world and a place with so many fun things to do and places to see. However, I’ve learned at UW about how this same area has 2,000 homeless people every single night, the poverty rate has increased nearly 100% since the year 2000, and there are 100,000 children hungry every single day… all in this community with all of its growth, innovation and prosperity.

While those are heavy and sad stats, I ultimately feel excited and encouraged because I’ve been able to be a part – at least in a small way – of what the UW is doing to address these issues. My degree was in Community Development and Action so I studied community, collaboration and collective impact in graduate school. I learned that we truly are better together, stronger than the sum of our parts when we come alongside of one another to work on issues and that is what United Way of the Greater Triangle is doing. I learned about how this UW is 1 of 5 UWs trying this collaborative approach – out of roughly 1,300 UWs in the country. It is exciting to be a part of an organization boldly trying a new approach to be better and make a stronger impact toward more transformative change for these issues in our community. I am so energized by their new approach and grateful to be able to see all these ideas that I studied in grad school being lived out.

I’ve also been excited to work with so many great people. The other fellows have become fast friends and we have enjoyed getting to know one another. It is such a neat program because it pulls people together from all walks of life but who are united in our desire to help our community. I’ve had the chance to get to know people with such interesting backgrounds – a former teacher, someone who worked with food-insecurity, a former YMCA staff member, a blueberry farmer and luxury goods marketing professional, a recent political science graduate. This team of fellows is proof to me of the better together, collaborative approach. We all have different strengths, knowledge, and abilities that we bring to the table.

I’m looking forward to working alongside of them and the other UW staff as we attempt to better know and grow our triangle community. I know that this position will help me in the future because it has already allowed me to meet these great people (and I know I will have the chance to meet more!) and it has allowed me to learn so much about the area and the issues but also the opportunities for improvement that we have. Further, this job has allowed me to grow myself through wonderful trainings, a chance to learn new skills, and the opportunity to participate in meaningful work that will help UW and our community. I’m looking forward to the next few months as I continue this Community Engagement Fellowship!

Finding & Growing a New Community

sarah2

BY Sarah Williams – Community Engagement Fellow

One of my favorite books of all time is Milton Mayeroff’s “On Caring” where he says that in order to care, one must KNOW and GROW the person, idea, or thing that one cares about. This is a framework I’ve adopted for my life, work, and community involvement. I believe that in order to care, we must know and grow the people, work, and community we are involved in. That is why I was drawn to the Community Engagement Fellow position. As a newbie to North Carolina (I moved in May after finishing grad school), I knew this position would give me a chance to learn the area and make an impact – to know and grow the triangle.

So far in my time at United Way, I’ve been deeply saddened and surprised but also excited and encouraged. First, I was saddened and surprised to learn about all the issues that are happening in this amazing place. My husband and I moved here excited to live in the area that is ranked #1 for young professionals, #4 happiest in the world and a place with so many fun things to do and places to see. However, I’ve learned at UW about how this same area has 2,000 homeless people every single night, the poverty rate has increased nearly 100% since the year 2000, and there are 100,000 children hungry every single day… all in this community with all of its growth, innovation and prosperity.

While those are heavy and sad stats, I ultimately feel excited and encouraged because I’ve been able to be a part – at least in a small way – of what the UW is doing to address these issues. My degree was in Community Development and Action so I studied community, collaboration and collective impact in graduate school. I learned that we truly are better together, stronger than the sum of our parts when we come alongside of one another to work on issues and that is what United Way of the Greater Triangle is doing. I learned about how this UW is 1 of 5 UWs trying this collaborative approach – out of roughly 1,300 UWs in the country. It is exciting to be a part of an organization boldly trying a new approach to be better and make a stronger impact toward more transformative change for these issues in our community. I am so energized by their new approach and grateful to be able to see all these ideas that I studied in grad school being lived out.

I’ve also been excited to work with so many great people. The other fellows have become fast friends and we have enjoyed getting to know one another. It is such a neat program because it pulls people together from all walks of life but who are united in our desire to help our community. I’ve had the chance to get to know people with such interesting backgrounds – a former teacher, someone who worked with food-insecurity, a former YMCA staff member, a blueberry farmer and luxury goods marketing professional, a recent political science graduate. This team of fellows is proof to me of the better together, collaborative approach. We all have different strengths, knowledge, and abilities that we bring to the table.

I’m looking forward to working alongside of them and the other UW staff as we attempt to better know and grow our triangle community. I know that this position will help me in the future because it has already allowed me to meet these great people (and I know I will have the chance to meet more!) and it has allowed me to learn so much about the area and the issues but also the opportunities for improvement that we have. Further, this job has allowed me to grow myself through wonderful trainings, a chance to learn new skills, and the opportunity to participate in meaningful work that will help UW and our community. I’m looking forward to the next few months as I continue this Community Engagement Fellowship!

Days of Action 2015: Orange, Durham, Wake, & Johnston

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United Way of the Greater Triangle invites you to participate in this year’s Days of Action, June 15-19, 2015. Day of Action is a point in time when we stand together as members of this Triangle community and mobilize the caring power of community to build long-term, sustainable change. We recognize that to make real change in our community, we must stand together every day.  Beginning Monday, June 15, join us for lunch at food truck rodeos throughout the Triangle to learn about our collaborative work, share your opinions, feedback, and ideas for improving our communities. Together, we can make a greater impact on the people we serve in Orange, Durham, Wake and Johnston counties.

On Friday, June 19, 2015, join us to help provide 1,000 weekend meals children in our community.  One in five children is food insecure in the Triangle every day.  This problem is compounded in the summer months when children don’t have access to the free and reduced lunch programs available during the school year.  In just two hours, volunteers will pack bags with enough food for meals for an entire weekend to benefit children at four Durham elementary schools.  Meal bag contents meet the guidelines of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Backpack Buddies program which provides weekend meals to children throughout the school year.  With your help, we can provide weekend meals to students this summer.  Space is limited; register here today.

Days of Action Schedule

Day of Action:  Orange
Monday, June 15, 2015
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Town Commons –  301 W. Main Street, Carrboro 27510
Food Truck & Conversation Event

Day of Action:  Durham
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
North Carolina School of Science and Math –  1219 Broad Street, Durham 27705
Food Truck & Conversation Event

Day of Action:  Wake
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Wake Technical Community College – 9101 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh 27603
Food Truck & Conversation Event

Day of Action:  Johnston
Thursday, June 18, 2015
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Sleep Inn & Suites –  207 N. Equity Drive, Smithfield 27577
Food Truck & Conversation Event

Day of Action:  Volunteer
Date:     Friday, June 19, 2015
Time:     10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location:  The Pavilion at Durham Central Park – 501 Foster Street, Durham 27701
Weekend Meal Packing Volunteer Event (Register here)

Thank you for #Uniting4Good for our community.

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