When we fight to improve life for people of every color, creed, gender, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, and nation of origin, we lift up entire communities.
Fighting for Youth Jobs
In our fight to build stronger communities, United Way is tackling the youth jobs crisis. Specifically, we’re giving young people the tools, resources and knowledge necessary to secure quality jobs. According to a McKinsey & Company study, approximately 75 million young people are unemployed around the world, and 225 million more are underemployed. A factor in this issue is inadequate training for in-demand jobs. It’s not a problem that one organization or sector can solve single-handedly.
To address this issue locally, Greater Twin Cities United Way partnered with U.S. Bank to launch the Career and College Academy, a high school-to-postsecondary experience that infuses college and career readiness with focused curriculum, preparing students for jobs that will economically strengthen the region. The initiative allows high school students to combine college credit-earning opportunities with work-based learning experiences. Employers like U.S. Bank have a hand in crafting the curriculum, ensuring students receive the skills and experiences needed to prepare them for careers.
Since its launch in 2015, 26 academies in five Minnesota school districts have been created. What’s more, the program has resulted in 2,957 students being enrolled in nine high-demand career pathways; approximately $521,196 saved in student tuition; and 748 college credits earned, among other benefits to students in need. One of them is Gloria, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School who is studying health sciences at the Academy in Bloomington. Gloria plans to attend a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and then pursue pre-med and a doctorate in medicine.
“Being in the Career and College Academy means that I get to explore the healthcare field and learn about the possibilities within this area,” said Gloria. “It also saves me a lot of money by providing free college classes, giving me certificates I can use to get a job to pay for my college.”
Ending Intolerance in Communities
In all corners of the world, United Way lives united against hate, prejudice and discrimination. United Way of Metropolitan Chicago is doing its part to promote acceptance. Through United Pride, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) affinity group, United Way is supporting the local LGBTQ community across education, income, health and basic needs.
Since its launch, United Pride has been fostering a culture of generosity by engaging companies and leaders across the region, several of which serve on the United Pride executive committee. A diverse group of leaders from Comcast, Northern Trust, Rush, The AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Howard Brown Health and Conagra actively offer strategic planning, leadership and ambassadorship to help build on United Way’s support and commitment to the LGBTQ community. By collaborating with such strong corporate allies, United Way continues to advance inclusivity which directly builds on our impact. This year, United Way supported a Spirit Day, with an emphasis on anti-bullying; a Day of Silence, a student-led anti-harassment initiative; and local events like the Chicago Pride Parade.
In Florida, LGBTQ support took on another meaning. This year—during LGBTQ Pride Month—a mass shooting occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The tragedy was a devastating reminder that intolerance is a hurdle we must continue to work on overcoming together. Stepping up in the wake of such violence, Heart of Florida United Way was tapped to manage the Orlando United Assistance Center to help those in need. By managing staff and connecting service providers, United Way provided support, resources and comfort to a community in grief. Additionally, the 2-1-1 information and assistance helpline served as an invaluable resource for central Florida citizens to get important information and be connected to critical services.
It is in times of need that we discover the full impact and influence of a community united. Whether it’s in Chicago or Orlando—or across the United Way network—nurturing empathy and understanding is an integral part of our commitment to build strong and healthy communities.
Helping Refugees Rebuild Their Lives
United Way is now in its second year of a program to welcome and integrate newcomers in three countries: France, Germany and England. The objective of the European Refugee Support Initiative is to strengthen communities by mobilizing non-governmental organization (NGO), government and corporate players to facilitate the integration of refugees and asylum seekers. In doing so, we are enabling newcomers to become active members of their host country; demonstrating their economic and social contributions; and involving locals in the welcoming and integration process.
In France, for example, United Way Tocqueville France created a collective program to address four priorities for newcomers’ long-term integration. It offers a job-readiness path toward employment, linguistics training, entrepreneurship training and cultural awareness workshops. The program was implemented in two areas: Tournan-en-Brie and Paris. In Tournan-en-Brie, a group of 21 refugees and asylum seekers benefited from the linguistics and cultural training. Meanwhile, in Paris, a group of 44 refugees and asylum seekers attended employment and entrepreneurship workshops.
In Paris, United Way also worked with Jesuit Refugee Service, a local NGO, to serve as a focal point in the field and ensure linkage with beneficiaries. To create and run the employment workshops, United Way collaborated with Mansartis, a local firm whose employees helped facilitate the integration of refugees into the job market. This year, the French Refugee Initiative allowed 65 refugees and asylum seekers to benefit from 705 hours of activities and personal follow-up, thanks to the five NGOs, nine volunteers and 24 employees of five participating companies—Mansartis, L'Oréal, Carrefour, Elis and NEOVA—who gave 390 volunteer hours to the program.
United Way also engaged the French branch of UPS to support the integration of refugees and asylum seekers. On June 15, a “Day of Action” was held, where 150 UPS managers met with United Way in Jambville to learn about the Initiative. Afterward, 20 managers joined a workshop to evaluate organizations working on the integration of refugees in France. Alongside United Way, the UPS employees assessed more than 50 nonprofits specialized in cultural awareness, teaching French, and training refugees for employment and entrepreneurship.
Giving Hope to China’s Left-Behind Children
Rapid industrialization in China has created an influx of rural workers migrating for jobs in large urban areas. Unfortunately, millions of children are left behind in the process. These children are often left with elderly grandparents or neighbors without resources to support their development and growth. Studies show these “left-behind” children are more likely to struggle in school, develop social and emotional problems, and get involved in criminal activity. United Way is fighting to shift the odds for these children in need, having joined forces with the China Charity Federation to create Love and Care Children’s Homes.
Built to support left-behind children, these “homes” are safe, welcoming resource areas located mostly inside schools and community centers. While there, children can receive help with their emotional problems, communicate with their parents and enjoy additional enrichment opportunities. There are 13 model homes up and running in eight provinces throughout the country, with approximately 2,000 left-behind children already benefiting. The goal is to build a country-wide network of 1,000 Love and Care Children’s Homes with training hubs and programming to help make life better for millions of children.
Eliminating the Scourge of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking. It happens in every country and every state in the United States, and it’s become more prevalent today than ever before. Nearly 20 million people are trafficked each year, 22 percent as sex slaves and 68 percent as forced labor. Through the United Way Worldwide Center on Human Trafficking & Slavery, we are fighting for the safety and dignity of any person who is—or could be—a victim of trafficking. The Center is building the public and political will to bring solutions to scale that will help end human trafficking and slavery in our generation.
This year, we built on our momentum by launching the Generation Freedom campaign, an anti-trafficking coalition designed to bring human trafficking to the forefront for policymakers and average Americans. The largest of its kind, this coalition comprises 118 organizations, including leaders from human rights, international advocacy, faith and clergy, and social service providers. The campaign called on the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates to make human trafficking a top priority, with all candidates pledging to do so. Our advocacy also paid off in Congress, where we saw the passage of the End Modern Slavery Act, which was authored by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), and established the first-ever Global Fund, a public-private partnership to increase anti-trafficking programs around the world. We organized more than 1,200 individual letters to senators in support of this legislation.
In addition to our advocacy efforts, we partnered with Sabre, a leading travel technology provider, to convene the first Business Leaders Forum to Combat Human Trafficking. An unprecedented number of businesses attended the event, including Google, Salesforce, Coca-Cola, UPS, Walmart, Costco, Disney, HP and Western Union. We believe our corporate partners can be a powerful ally in the fight against human trafficking. For example, Coca-Cola trains employees at global factories to spot signs of human trafficking. Sabre is uniting the tourism industry by equipping it with critical awareness and identification tools. Western Union monitors its financial networks and supply chains, identifying signs of human trafficking. And Salesforce, a leader in cloud-computing, is working to spot trends within data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
The United Way Worldwide Center on Human Trafficking & Slavery continues to bring advocates and organizations together to create global solutions. The Center is working with 40 local United Ways to develop training to increase awareness, support victim identification and ensure effective services are given to survivors. Doing their part, United Way of Greater Atlanta worked to address child sex trafficking by teaming up with nonprofits, volunteers, donors and government to increase public awareness and drive action by supporting the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund, a constitutional amendment to provide funds for victim-restorative services. United Way also invested in strengthening the effectiveness of nonprofits working against human trafficking, and expanding anti-trafficking and survivor-restoration opportunities. In this important fight, United Way is securing a continuum of care for victims.