TURNING POVERTY INTO POSSIBILITIES
Too many people are just one crisis away from financial ruin. Johnny, a Milwaukee resident, found himself homeless after the death of his wife. Luckily, he heard about the Guest House of Milwaukee, a United Way-funded emergency shelter program, and reached out for support.
“I told them I just needed a place to stay for a couple of weeks to get back on my feet,” said Johnny, who was introduced to a case manager who helped him create a personalized recovery plan. “I had lived in the same place with one woman for 30 years, and suddenly I was living with 60 men I didn’t know.”
After three months of support and shelter, Johnny found permanent housing and regained his financial footing. For years, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County has been helping people like Johnny achieve financial stability, connecting them to local agencies that provide housing, education and services to transform their lives with dignity and purpose.
“United Way is not a short-term investment—it’s about lasting change. The complexity of Johnny’s situation could have caused him to give up, but thanks to United Way’s support, he had a reason not to,” said Shannon Reed, United Way’s director of innovative strategies for boys and men of color. “We didn’t just provide Johnny with a warm bed or a free meal, we helped him address the root causes of his issue and, therefore, overcome homelessness.”
MOBILIZING LEADERS TO END INEQUALITY
For 130+ years, United Way has been convening leaders of community, business and government to fight issues that threaten individuals and societies. By galvanizing key influencers around critical issues like social inequality and financial instability, United Way enables the delivery of solutions that improve lives and communities. An example of this impact through unity occurred in September, when the United Way Worldwide Leadership Council held its fifth Roundtable on Philanthropy in Bucharest, Romania.
Supported by United Way Romania, the event hosted 134 attendees from 19 countries—from Africa to Australia—and provided a unique occasion for United Way’s most engaged donors and volunteers to connect with like-minded individuals and maximize their impact. It’s also an opportunity for participants to strengthen their commitment to United Way locally, regionally and globally, with many going on to invest significantly (some at the $10 million level) in the network. During this year’s event, participants explored solutions around inequality and migration, and United Way’s role in reimagining communities. As a result, initial work is underway to expand United Way into the Netherlands.
Highlights include a special visit from Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, who endorsed United Way Romania’s efforts; five new commitments for the local Tocqueville Society; and a visit to the Naomi Counseling program, which provides counseling for impoverished women. A “Declaration of Intent” was also created during the Roundtable, with a two-fold focus: To alleviate social and income inequality in Bucharest by increasing access to the building blocks of a good life, and for United Ways in Europe to work more closely together to recruit and engage business and societal leaders as donors and volunteers.
An annual event, the Roundtable on Philanthropy is more than just a gathering of investors—it’s an opportunity to author a new future by harnessing the collective power of people. It’s a testament to the belief that society cannot achieve long-term economic success without broad-based human resources. This year’s Roundtable is just one more way United Way is addressing the increasing economic and social inequality communities are facing, while opening the door to donor- and volunteer-driven solutions that create positive impact at scale.
A FOUNDATION FOR FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT
Unemployment does more than just cripple communities—it debilitates lives. To counter this, United Way Romania created On the Road of Self-Reliance, an integrated program that provides people in need with specialized training, skills development, career counseling and job shadowing. When the M. family enrolled in the program, they were facing a challenging economic situation. The father hadn’t worked for six months, the bills were mounting and one child was experiencing health problems.
Thanks to United Way, the family received free medical assistance; the parents were given vocational counseling; resulting in a taxi-driving certification for the father and a factory job for the mother; and several of their children participated in job- qualification courses, which helped with the family expenses. Within a few months, the
M. family’s financial situation—and future— improved. In all, 336 people have found employment after graduating the program, a testament to the impact of United Way.
A FREE SOLUTION FOR FILING YOUR TAXES
As a financial coach, Gladys understands how smart financial decisions can save you money. In 2016, she discovered a new financial tool when she decided to file her taxes through MyFreeTaxes®.
It all started with a dental issue. Gladys, a manager of the Guadalupe Centers Financial Opportunity Center in Kansas City needed to visit a dentist, but she couldn’t afford to without some additional income.
“I was going to do what most individuals do: File my taxes and put off going to the dentist,” said Gladys. “But then I heard from my employer about MyFreeTaxes, and that night I logged on.”
MyFreeTaxes is an online tax-filing program for individuals earning less than $66,000, and is sponsored by United Way in partnership with H&R Block. For residents in the United Way of Greater Kansas City service area, and across the nation, it is a safe and easy way to file state and federal taxes.
“It’s that old thing of ‘it’s just too good to be true,’ but then I read about the benefits,” said Gladys, who filed her taxes in 30 minutes. “I was shocked at how easy and user-friendly the process was. With the money I saved, I was able to visit the dentist.”
As the only free, online and national tax-filing product offered by a nonprofit, MyFreeTaxes has helped nearly 1 million individuals receive their maximum refunds. Since 2009, MyFreeTaxes has saved users $180 million in filing fees and brought more than $1 billion in refunds back to communities.
“Filing taxes can be a headache. Having programs like MyFreeTaxes is a tremendous help, and it offers financial relief for many low-income families,” said Gladys. “I have been encouraging my clients to take advantage of this service.”
To learn more about MyFreeTaxes, visit MyFreeTaxes.com.
MONEY MANAGEMENT MADE EASIER
Research tells us that happier employees are more engaged in the workplace, and we know that employees are happier when their finances are stable. To put financial well-being within reach for every employee across the country, United Way is partnering with SalaryFinance, an online platform that provides financial-wellbeing products and services. The platform is offered as a free benefit to the employees of every United Way corporate partner. It is just one more way we are fighting to get 10+ million Americans out of high-cost debt and into savings. To learn more, visit salaryfinance.com/us.