Nonprofits Today Column: Annual campaign targets change

The 2021 United Way of Northern New York annual campaign kicks off with a focus on changing the lives of individuals and families in our communities with a sense of urgency. Over the past year, we have witnessed dramatic shifts in our region: record numbers of overdoses, rise in domestic violence incidents, community-wide mental health distress, small businesses closing and a disruption to our children’s learning. The politicization of the COVID-19 vaccine tore the fabric of our communities apart.

It is, however, with great optimism that the United Way is creating meaningful change that positively impacts every school, town and village. Through your generosity, we’ve invested nearly a half-million dollars into community programs. We’ve built relationships with 32 different municipalities and school districts to focus on empowering community stakeholders to immediately solve the problems of individuals and families who face a problem that, if not fixed, will cause them to plummet into situational poverty and entry into a safety-net system that is not responsive, does not have a sense of urgency and is often punitive to those who make a dollar too much in income. We’ve invested $280,000 to ensure that our Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) families are stabilized.

The United Way of Northern New York was recently awarded a US Department of Agriculture grant to bring food system stakeholders together to form a food policy council that will strengthen our food system and add resiliency when it is under stress. The changes will bring stability to farmers, smarter business practices to our processors and distributors and give clear access to healthy and affordable food to every resident.

Our education and training center has hosted 32 workshops so far this year and will incorporate leadership cohorts and professional learning into the curriculum. Across the breadth of any type of company, our workshops provide leadership lessons for young and seasoned leaders; give best practice updates to our mental health providers, teachers and caregivers; teach basic Microsoft Office skills; demonstrate strategic planning and corporate financial planning; foster critical thinking; and give every business entity in our region the ability to improve and grow. The United Way of Northern New York understands that a healthy community is one where everyone has access to opportunity, great schools, a responsive and quality medical system, a nourishing environment, sports programs for children, the arts and a thriving economy. That’s why we’re making our investments with the end goal being strong communities.

Whether you’re approached in your workplace to participate in our annual campaign, you receive a mailer at home, or you see one of our social media posts, your contributions can make an immediate impact to someone you know:

• $5 a week: Provides 585 miles of transportation per year to those without a vehicle

• $10 a week: Provides 2 community group overdose prevention training sessions

• $25 a week: Ensures 20 child caregivers are First Aid and CPR certified

• $50 a week: Assists 13 victims of domestic violence with emergency food and supplies

• $100 a week: Eliminates critical barriers for ALICE families trying to avoid poverty

Your Support. Our Community. Help us Change Their Story.

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