United Way of Central Carolinas




Dr. Mary Lynne Calhoun, retired Dean of the College of Education at UNC Charlotte, recently wrote this Viewpoint column for the Charlotte Observer - the full text is available below, or you may see it as it appeared in the paper by clicking here.

Additionally, two executive directors from United Way partner agencies offered their take on United Way's innovative Collective Impact approach.

We're extremely grateful to these community leaders for speaking out so powerfully for those most in need!

New approach tackles dropout rate

The “united” in United Way of Central Carolinas has taken on a new, powerful meaning with the adoption and implementation of the Collective Impact model of philanthropy.

We’re all familiar with the essential work of United Way in raising funds to support the work of human services agencies to address our community’s most pressing needs. Collective Impact intensifies the power of this work by moving from the isolated impact of individual agencies to the shared impact of working toward a common goal.

United Way of Central Carolinas began the Collective Impact process by conducting a five-county community needs assessment in 2011. That report identified education, particularly high school completion rates, as a critical need in our region. Sixteen United Way agencies that work with children and youth were invited to plan together about how they might contribute to stronger education outcomes for the most vulnerable children. Benchmark goals related to high school completion (e.g., quality preschool education, early literacy, strong mentoring relationships with caring adults, etc.) were identified and included in the model.

A sophisticated data-sharing system managed by UNC Charlotte’s Institute for Social Capital allows us to examine the progress of young people served by United Way agencies: their academic progress, their attendance, and the number of school suspensions. These measures are all important benchmarks related to high school completion. This week, United Way announced the Year 2 data for Mecklenburg County children served by the 16 agencies, with these key findings:

  • United Way agencies are reaching the children most in need of support – those in the highest-poverty neighborhoods, attending the lowest-performing schools and facing the greatest income-disparity gap.
  • Compared to the year before receiving agency services, the majority of children either improved or remained stable in reading and math, attendance and behavior.
  • Attendance and behavior continue to be areas of concern – there is a higher than typical rate of chronic absenteeism, and 24 percent of students had been suspended from school at least once in the year of record.

Those interested in more data detail can find it here on United Way’s website.

The Collective Impact reports will be richer each year, with new information on high school completion rates, promotion to the next grade and report card grades. And as part of its partnership with the Collective Impact agencies, United Way is recruiting and training tutors in literacy programs through Project 1000 and is providing shared professional development for agency personnel and volunteers.

The Collective Impact model of philanthropy requires a common agenda, a shared measurement system, trust, and encouragement of agencies to do what they do best toward the common goal. Collective Impact requires us to commit to working together for the long haul and to keep learning and improving in our community effort.

We are most fortunate that Charlotte’s nonprofits, United Way’s generous donors and major foundations are willing to all contribute to the effort. Our gifts to United Way are being used collaboratively to move the needle in improving outcomes for our community neighbors. Together we are united in doing big and important work for the common good.

A former United Way board member from 2010-2014, Mary Lynne Calhoun retired as Dean of the College of Education at UNC Charlotte last year. She continues to work with United Way on the graduation initiative.

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childrenUnited Way Announces Year 2 Data from Children & Youth Collective Impact Initiative to Improve Graduation Rates

In 2011, United Way launched its first Collective Impact initiative to improve the on-time graduation rate for at-risk students. The Year 2 data compared students' progress prior to receiving services from at least one of the partner agencies.

Here are the results.


SiemerLogoUnited Way Wins Siemer Grant to Help Homeless Children in School - $600,000 in New Funding Over Three Years with United Way Match

United Way of Central Carolinas has won a matching grant from the Siemer Institute for Family Stability – $300,000 over three years, matched with $300,000 in funding from United Way, for a total of $600,000 in new funding. This funding will go to United Way partner agencies Charlotte Family Housing and Ada Jenkins Center to improve academic outcomes and stability among children and families at-risk of homelessness.

Click here to



Jane McIntyre penned this Viewpoint column for the latest edition of the Charlotte Business Journal, which also supported United Way by running these campaign kickoff photos in its CBJSeen photo gallery.

Business Journal subscribers can read Jane's column here, but we also wanted to share her op-ed with the entire community, below.

United Way's Annual Campaign

My Last Pitch to Meet Community Needs

At 68, this is the first time in my life that I wish I were five years younger.

Five years ago, most of my friends wondered why in the world I would take on rebuilding United Way of Central Carolinas. Many tried to talk me out of it.

The reason I joined United Way then is the same reason I’d like to turn back time now – this mission is simply too important.

YWCA Central Carolinas, where I previously worked, takes in homeless women and families, and helps 350+ youth at learning centers in 11 fragile communities. That’s where I saw the impact of United Way donors firsthand.

Even with that knowledge, I did not grasp the full scope of the crises faced by United Way, its partner agencies, and our community every year. For perspective, consider these figures, just from Mecklenburg County:
• Every day, 911 receives about 100 domestic violence calls.
• More than 4,100 children enrolled in our public schools are homeless.
• One in four middle-school students recently contemplated suicide; one in 10 made the attempt.

And that’s only in Mecklenburg. Our United Way serves four other counties too, where many of you live.

Real People, Not Statistics

But even the most alarming statistics can feel distant, which is why United Way strives to tell the real-life stories of neighbors helped by your donations.

Watch Rich Zatulove’s short story here on our website. He lost his job, and with it his health insurance, and, almost, his life.

“That can’t happen to me,” we all hope. Yet for 40 years, Zatulove succeeded at every job he’d ever undertaken. Then his health failed to the point that he was, quite literally, unemployable.

Sometimes circumstances spiral beyond our control. That’s why United Way exists – to provide a hand up when we get blindsided.

Solutions Aren’t Simple

For another example, consider Elizabeth Hobson and her three children, who were abused for years, both physically and mentally.
• Safe Alliance provided legal aid and psychological counseling.
• Crisis Assistance Ministry restored water, heat and lights after her ex-husband shut off their utilities.
• Ada Jenkins Center supplied emergency food after he redirected her paycheck.
• Council for Children’s Rights provided additional trial resources, and later helped find educational support for her son’s high-functioning autism.

Crises never have a “one size fits all” solution. That’s why United Way funds each of these agencies, as well as several free clinics like the one that helped Rich, and dozens of other local nonprofits. It takes all of us united together to make a difference.

A $100 Million Impact

There are many more success stories like these. In all, United Way donors touched the lives of roughly 300,000 local neighbors in need last year.

It’s overwhelming to think about so many women, men and children in need of help. But with your donation, United Way changes lives, one Rich and one Elizabeth at a time.

I announced my pending retirement last month, before our September campaign launch, to give our board ample time to find the next executive director. I know they’ll find the perfect leader to allow a seamless transition.

But the timing was also a positive jolt for my last fundraising campaign. I’m a fan of round numbers, and there’s a big one I sincerely hope you’ll help this community reach.

Last year, your United Way donations provided $17 million in funding for health and human service agencies across five counties. That brought our total distribution to $83 million over five years – all local funding.

One more successful campaign would bring us to $100 million in donations invested directly into our community. That’s the kind of figure that can change lives.

Real change only occurs when we choose to Live United. Please join this year’s campaign.

Jane McIntyre, executive director of United Way of Central Carolinas Inc., will retire at the end of the current fundraising campaign.



Insufficient Beds, Too Many Gaps – United Way Reports Initial Data from Coordinated Assessment System Serving the Homeless

One month into full-scale operation, the United Way-facilitated Coordinated Assessment partnership is producing new data for Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s ongoing work to end and prevent homelessness.

The key finding so far: Charlotte relies too much on shelters as a stop-gap remedy, and does not have enough resources that lead to permanent housing solutions.

“For anyone who’s worked closely with the homeless in our community, this is no surprise,” said Dennis Marstall, United Way’s vice president of community investment and impact.  “But a vital step in maximizing our current limited resources – and hopefully securing new funding – is to have hard data that clearly quantifies specific needs, beyond anecdotal observations.”

The two-pronged goal of Coordinated Assessment is to reduce the number of homeless individuals and families, and to shorten the duration of homelessness.

United Way unveiled the initiative in August 2013, when it secured $200,000 in seed funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation.  After collaboration with the city, county, Foundation For The Carolinas, Homeless Services Network, and more than 25 homeless service providers, the Coordinated Assessment system began with a “soft launch” in May, then went into full-scale operation on August 4.

From Aug. 4 - Aug. 29, 448 individuals and families sought aid through one of four Coordinated Assessment sites, which are at the Salvation Army Center of Hope, Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Crisis Assistance Ministry, and Urban Ministry Center.  The results so far:
     • 20 (4.5%) referred and placed into housing
     • 25 (6%) diverted away from homelessness (through counseling, limited financial aid)
     • 218 (49%) prioritized for rapid rehousing (subsidized rental housing)
     • 103 (23%) prioritized for transitional housing (addiction recovery programs)
     • 60 (13%) prioritized for permanent supportive housing (mental illness, disability)
     • 22 (5.5%) unclassified/repeat clients

Other key data:
     • On any given night, there are approximately 2,014 people, including families, experiencing homelessness in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
     • Over the course of an academic year, there are 4,131 children in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools who are homeless (including living in motels, or doubled up with relatives).

Meeting the federally mandated August launch deadline ensures eligibility for Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual homeless grants for the Charlotte area totaling $4.4 million, which includes $2.1 million to seven United Way agencies – funding that could have been at-risk had the system not been implemented on time.

The new data was presented to United Way’s board of directors and to the media at the board’s September meeting. For the summary news release, please click here. For the full board presentation, please click here.


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Gloria Meck 

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