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December 2012
Updates from United Way Worldwide

My Free Taxes = United Way Opportunity

Looking for a way to start or boost your impact work around financial stability? How about directing people to an easy, free online tax filing web site that can be packaged with your local EITC, VITA or other tax preparation work? United Way Worldwide has social media and marketing tools to help you promote it in a way that adds visibility and buzz, too.

MyFreeTaxes.com is the opportunity to do all of that. It doesn't take much to kick off 2013 with customizable online messaging (Twitter, Facebook, e-mail blasts in English and Spanish) and how-to's that build your social media capacity and advance your corporate and individual engagement strategies. You can leverage 2-1-1 as well.

Led by United Way, powered by Walmart Foundation — in cooperation with Goodwill Industries International, and National Disability Institute — the MyFreeTaxes partnership's online and in-person tax preparation and filing services have helped 4.5 million families claim nearly $6 billion in tax credits and state and federal refunds since 2009. The tax filing software is provided by H&R Block. MyFreeTaxes partners with more than 100 nonprofit and community organizations to connect you to free, local tax assistance programs.

Now in its fifth year, the MyFreeTaxes partnership is a national effort to expand access to and use of free tax preparation services for anyone earning less than $57,000. The partnership combines traditional volunteer-assisted tax preparation with an innovative, online self-preparation and filing tool that empowers users to prepare and file their own taxes for free. It can also link filers to other critical asset-building products and services such as savings and banking products and public benefits.

United Ways can sign up for a custom URL at http://bit.ly/2012URL. Resources to help United Ways publicize and use MyFreeTaxes are available at www.myfreetaxes.com. Need more information? Contact UWW's Stephanie Chin at Stephanie.Chin@unitedway.org.


Mobilizing around Education, Income and Health

What United Ways do well – our value proposition – is that we recruit people with passion, expertise and resources, from across the community, to get things done. Put another way, what we do well is galvanize, or mobilize, our community around the pressing issues of improving education, financial stability and health.

So how do we do that? Mobilization Jumpstart is the first step; aligning to the United Way business model is the foundational work. Part of United Way’s job is to help equip you for that journey. Since 2010, part of that has entailed mobilization groups, a learning cohort of United Ways – of all sizes, from all regions of the country – who are committed to help define that journey for you. These 40 “early adopters” have learned a lot about what it takes to bring individuals and institutions – fellow nonprofits, community members, businesses, the media, the public sector and more – together around collective goals in education, income and health. Here are some useful tools created along the way that you can adapt to your work, including a soup-to-nuts toolkit on education, income and health community conversations.

Over the next year, expect more tools gleaned from their learnings. Click here for the first,Turning Outward and Listening in the Community: A First Step to Engage and Align with the Community around a Cause. The takeaway: the path to community change requires strong leadership commitment to both community impact and turning outward. That commitment must be turned into action, with community conversations and strategy development informed by the public’s thoughts and aspirations.

This fall, three of those issue-focused mobilization groups came together at United Way’s Mary M. Gates Learning Center. They shared ideas with each other and outside experts on mobilizing their communities around income, health and early grade reading. Here are some highlights we thought might be of interest to you:


Outside speakers brought new perspectives to United Way’s opportunity to help drive change that improves access to health care and executes prevention strategies to keep people healthy – including shining a spotlight on leadership challenges that transcend the health issue.  

Keynoters spoke of the role of leaders to change mindsets and take on new responsibilities.  Tyler Norris, Vice President of Total Health at Kaiser-Permanente, noted that total health across the life span will require leaders to disrupt current defaults:  from one that prioritizes individual responsibility to one of shared responsibility for healthier communities. Mayor Angel Taveras of Providence RI and Dr. Tracy Gaudet of the Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation at the Veterans’ Health Administration cautioned that a major responsibility of leaders is to protect the vision across time, to remind everyone what is possible, to model the community we want to become, and to foster hope that we can make lasting change together.

True collaboration is difficult, because it means giving up power.  United Ways have a particular role to play as trans-partisan, trans-issue, trans-jurisdiction and trans-sector leaders. Want to hear more? 

  • Click here to access Tyler Norris’ remarks: Total health – Rethinking Quality… and the Role of Community Leadership.
  • Click here to access Dr. Tracy Gaudet, Director, Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation--Veterans Health Administration; and Providence, Rhode Island’s Mayor Angel Taveras’ comments: Leading Changing – Leveraging the Moment for Sustainable Transformation.


Early Grade Reading
Looking for tools to help you mobilize around early grade reading? Check out United Way’s new online toolkit here, informed by the mobilization group working in that area. Here are some interesting lessons learned that can be applied to any impact work:

  • Click here to hear United Way of Greater Houston’s CEO Anna Babin reflect on the challenges and learnings of really listening to the community.
  • Click here to learn about how the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County engaged with the mayor to stoke community partnerships for success.


An ongoing challenge is crafting a clear, compelling message that helps enlist and enroll people into the cause. It’s especially tough in financial stability work, against the backdrop of a tough economy. But Meg Bostrom, a strategic communications consultant who’s guided United Way Worldwide’s message development and has worked on the ground with several United Ways in the Income Mobilization Group, has some practical advice.

Her No. 1 caution: focus on shared responsibility. Highlighting one individual’s story (even if it’s a problem accompanied by your solution) undercuts collective action. Public opinion research shows that people may feel sympathy, but want to help that one person – instead of supporting a deeper, wider community change effort. Click here for her PowerPoint presentation (slides 38 and 39 have good language from United Way of Lane County, OR) and here for the updated messaging handbook she helped create that offers critical “how to’s” for messaging about impact work.


Disaster's Long Tail

Click here to read Stacey Stewart’s Huffington Post Impact op-ed about the long-lasting effects of disaster and how, “long-term recovery takes the concerted effort and continued investment of the government, the community and the nonprofit sector.”


2011 United Way Worldwide Annual Report Now Available

Click here to download.


United Way Worldwide Realigns to Increase Network Impact and Engagement around the World

Shift signals organization's commitment to scale impact and increase public-private partnerships around the world.



Registration Now Open for the 2013 Staff Leaders Conference and Inclusion Forum

The United Way Staff Leaders Conference will take place April 17-19 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The theme of this year’s Staff Leaders Conference is “Driving Change Together.” It will highlight the research, strategies, and best and promising practices that are leading to lasting community impact. Sign up for this major gathering of your colleagues and partners for great keynotes, dedicated networking time and learning opportunities designed to help our network advance the common good.

Prior to the Staff Leaders Conference, United Ways from the United States are invited April 15-16 in Indianapolis for the 2013 Inclusion Forum. This event will allow attendees to explore and share learnings leveraging diversity and inclusion. Specific topics will include increasing graduation initiative rates, strengthening relationships with key stakeholders and promoting information, networking and career advice. Learn more and register here.


Volunteer Milestone Reached

More than a third of the U.S. United Way network is recruiting volunteer readers, tutors, mentors – 100,000 so far – through social media, email messaging, partnerships with other nonprofits, leveraging workplace campaigns, 2-1-1, and more. Many United Ways are still setting a local volunteer goal. Putting a stake in the ground (publicly) is part of engaging and mobilizing your community. Get tips, tools and templates here. Click here to see the research showing how volunteering is a strategy that can drive your education outcomes.


Greater Twin Cities United Way's Online Game to Support Education Efforts

Greater Twin Cities United Way has developed an online game, called Pass The Grade, that not only educates players about the trials of school children in poverty, but raises money for educational programs with each game played. The campaign launched on “Giving Tuesday,” November 27, and runs through December 31, 2012. Play “Pass the Grade” here.


Ready by 21 Grows in Tennessee

Leaders from Tennessee are collaborating outside their city limits – and comfort zones – to improve outcomes for children and youth. Government, business and nonprofit leaders from five Tennessee communities gathered recently to assess the state of their services for children and youth, then began working to build their capacity to deliver a cohesive set of community-wide supports. That's part of the Tennessee Cities Challenge, hosted by the Forum for Youth Investment and the National League of Cities (both United Way partners). United Way has been actively supporting Ready by 21 in Tennessee. To learn more about how this Ready by 21 Challenge is advancing collective impact, check out his news article.


Three United Ways are Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Winners

United Way of New York City, United Way of Forsyth County (Winston-Salem, NC), and United Way of Greater Duluth are winners of the 2012 Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge. Together for Tomorrow is a joint initiative of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships together with the U.S. Department of Education and CNCS, that recognizes community-led partnership to support struggling schools.


Poor Kids Speak for Themselves

Why does America have one of the highest child poverty rates in the developed world? Is the problem getting worse? What happened to the social safety net? And what should be done to help America's most disadvantaged kids? PBS's Frontline explores the economic crisis through the eyes of children. Click here to view the film, here to read the Helping America's Poor Kids live chat transcript, and here to view figures that underscore many of the challenges facing all of the children living in poverty.


"What do you aspire for your community?"

United Way of Greater Portland played this video at their Finale Celebration. After the viewing, they handed out black paper and white markers so they could share their own aspirations. See some of the results on the Facebook album.


Doctors and Educators Partner to Distribute Books to Kids

Reach Out and Read distributes 6.5 million books a year to over 4 million (mostly low-income) children nationwide. See it behind the scenes on this Nov. 8 PBS NewsHour segment, as pediatricians and health care providers promote early literacy by giving books to young children and showing parents ways to engage their kids while reading. Research shows the program works, and many United Ways partner with Reach Out and Read locally (which is now in 5,000 sites in all 50 states). Check here for a program near you. If not, how can you engage pediatricians and health care providers in similar ways (perhaps using Born Learning materials)?


Backpacks, School Supplies and LOTS of Volunteers

More than 400 volunteers gathered recently to pack 20,000 backpacks with school supplies for low-income and homeless children as part of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern Jersey and Cradles to Crayons' 2012 Backpack-A-Thon. In the largest one-day back-to-school event in the region, the Backpack-A-Thon helps children start the school year equipped with the tools they need to succeed in the classroom. Read more here and here.


Anchorage Is Going for 90 Percent by 2020

United Way of Anchorage and its partners in Anchorage United for Youth are committed to increasing the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. The partnership's strategies include:

  • Rallying more adults in the community to commit to simple, everyday actions that let youth know we care
  • Mobilizing an army of volunteers – readers, tutors, mentors – to encourage, support and guide youth toward positive choices
  • Creating meaningful opportunities for youth to engage in the community and workforce
  • Intervening early with young children who are academically off track
  • Intervening early with youth who are using drugs and alcohol
  • Intervening effectively with youth who are becoming disengaged from school or delinquent, and with those already in the juvenile justice system
  • Strengthening and supporting families

Click here to access their data source – Anchorage Community Assessment Project (CAP): 2011 Action Report on Education. Click here to see how the 90 Percent by 2020 partnership is making the case to business.


Shared Value in Emerging Markets: How Multinational Corporations are Redefining Business Strategies to Reach Poor or Vulnerable Populations

Social problems such as malnutrition, social inequality, under-employment, and climate change can threaten competitiveness in emerging markets. However, companies in these regions have enormous opportunities to drive competitive advantage and sustainable impact at scale. Businesses are creating shared value – achieving business success through addressing societal needs – in three ways: by reconceiving products and markets, by enhancing productivity in the value chain, and by improving operating environments. FSG's new report, Shared Value in Emerging Markets, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, highlights more than 30 case studies of companies that are redefining business strategies across a range of geographies, with a particular focus on the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). 


Winners of 100 Best Communities for Young People Announced

America's Promise Alliance (a United Way partner) has announced the 2012 winners of the 100 Best Communities for Young People, spotlighting communities that demonstrate lasting, cross-sector support youth development. In its sixth year, the competition garnered the most applicants ever, with 320 communities (representing all 50 states) vying for the honor. If your community applied, how can you leverage that enthusiasm?


Community Impact Home Page


Updates from United Way Worldwide:

Action Alert: #ProtectGiving

Charitable giving makes community impact possible. As congressional leaders make critical budget and tax decisions over the coming weeks, we urgently need your help to make the case to elected representatives. Please let your voice – and that of your “friends & family” – be heard about how current tax laws on charitable giving help individuals and families in our communities. Add your United Way to this sign-on letter, email your member of Congress and spread the word on Facebook and twitter to #ProtectGiving.

United Way News You Can Use

Upcoming Webinars and Trainings

United Way Women’s Leadership Summit: March 6-8, Charleston, SC
Women are leading the charge all over America, including 55,000 women leaders in 137 U.S. communities and is the most successful philanthropic effort of its kind, seeing a 12% increase in revenue last year. Over the last 12 years, United Way Women's Leadership Councils have raised more than $1 billion dollars, and have raised their voices and volunteered their time as well. Get your United Way involved in this important and powerful network of women, and celebrate with one another at the United Way Women’s Leadership Summit. Register now.

Ready By 21 National Meeting: March 11-13, Atlanta, GA
The Ready by 21 National Meeting will bring together hundreds of leaders from around the country who are working toward the same goal: getting all young people ready by 21 for college, work and life. Click here for more information.

Archived Webinars

MOBILIZATION MOMENT: Leadership Commitment Is First Critical Step: October 25
Authentic leadership is essential for United Ways to mobilize their communities. Check out Leadership Lessons from Mobilization Markets, a recent webinar featuring four United Way CEOs who have displayed exceptional commitment and are seeing tangible results.

Milwaukee’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative: November 28
Hear from members of the Milwaukee Teen Pregnancy Initiative, including United Way of Greater Milwaukee, to learn how they came together as a community to address teen pregnancy. Learn how they got started, and what results they have achieved. Click here to download the initiative’s logic model.

Issue-Based Workforce Campaigns-Keys for Success: November 29
Can you raise more money by focusing on a single issue? The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and United Way of New York City say yes. Listen to a conversation with Boston’s Chief Development Officer and NYC’s VP of Corporate & Foundation Relations, and pick up tips for focusing a workforce campaign on specific community work.

Tools You Can Use

United Way Business Performance Matrix
The Business Performance Matrix is a new organizing framework for United Ways in the U.S.A. network that captures the performance of United Ways against the United Way Business Model within the context of their organizational and community capacity.  Click here to view resources.

United Way’s Brand Tracker
Trust is at the core of our ability to build relationships and move people to work with us by giving, advocating and volunteering around the issues they care most about. Click here to view an informational 2-pager on United Way's Brand Tracker.

National Center for Safe Routes (SRTS) to School Toolbox
SRTS programs are sustained efforts to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. The toolbox includes resources, webinars and an interactive map which depicts federally funded SRTS projects across the United States.

Infographics: Education Kids Can Be GR8by8
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Gr8by8 initiative has a suite of new infographics on the power of early learning, showing how the years 0-8 matter for a child’s future success, and how investing in early childhood education increases productivity and reduces deficits. Download them here and here.  (And there are many more tools on Invest In US.)

Infographic: The Value of a STEM Education
From Edutopia: Knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can be the key to a successful future. Here's an infographic that depicts why a STEM education matters and how you can inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring
The National Mentoring Partnership has a new online resource developed by Dr. Jean Rhodes. This tool will highlight new findings and ideas about youth mentoring and give practitioners the opportunity to share their local community experiences. 


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