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Girl Power

What Happens When 60,000 Women Decide to Change the World

Making a difference in my community while networking with interesting women from all walks of life – what’s not to like?

Women's Leadership Council

United Way’s 143 Women’s Leadership Councils work hard and have an immeasurable impact on their communities, but I’m not the only member of this 60,000-women global network who’d agree that doing good can also be fun.

In my mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina, the Women’s Leadership Council is a new undertaking for United Way of Asheville-Buncombe County. It’s organized around Middle School Success, a United Way initiative focused on helping middle school students succeed by improving learning opportunities outside the classroom.

We’ve stuffed hundreds of backpacks with school supplies, and wrapped a warehouse full of books as holiday gifts. Some of us are mentoring middle school girls. Others are getting trained to evaluate after-school activities. And we’re helping launch an early warning system to help kids get back on track after the first “red flag.” Meanwhile, we’ve exceeded our first-year recruitment goals.

Created and led by women, United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council is one of the most successful philanthropic efforts of its kind. In 12 years, we’ve raised more than $1 billion for United Way’s community change work. And we’re all over the world, in the U.S., Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana and the United Kingdom.

Research says women are more inclined to advocate for our beliefs, go beyond writing a check to get deeply involved in a cause, and enlist others to join. For United Way, whose unique role is bringing people together to solve community problems, women leaders are essential to accelerating lasting change.

Helping Girls in Milwaukee

With support from United Way, the city of Milwaukee has cut its teen pregnancy rate in half.

Milwaukee’s series of provocative ads were very successful at expanding awareness about teenage pregnancy.

Just look at Milwaukee. About 8 years ago, a group of passionate, dedicated women dreamed big about how they could help shift the odds for low-income girls. In Milwaukee, teen pregnancies were a big barrier to success in school, work and life. United Way of Greater Milwaukee’s Women’s Leadership Council took it on, and brought business leaders and the community with them.

Today, Milwaukee has the lowest teen birth rate in decades, with nearly 50% fewer young girls having babies. The initiative is now a national model for community collaboration, recognized by the White House Council for Community Solutions.

These women brought so much energy to their cause that the community asked them to tackle another one: infant mortality. They’re aiming for double digit reductions. It’s a bold goal, but these women have shown they can create change that goes far beyond charity. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.