United Way invests $24.5 million to boost economic mobility, strengthen neighborhoods

United Way invests $24.5 million to boost economic mobility, strengthen neighborhoods
United Way of Central Carolinas announced the investment of $24.5 million into the community, with $16.3 million going toward the organization’s community impact strategy and $8.2 million in donor directed funding.
Two of UWCC’s impact strategy elements include United Neighborhoods and Unite Charlotte.
United Neighborhoods works to change the odds for those in under‐resourced neighborhoods by supporting community‐driven, holistic neighborhood transformation and revitalization efforts. 
Unite Charlotte supports new and grassroots organizations through grants and capacity‐building activities focused on improving racial equity and increasing social capital.
United Neighborhoods has expanded this year with the addition of six "Building Block" grants for Charlotte neighborhoods.
The Lakewood Neighborhood Alliance received a $15,000 United Neighborhoods grant and a $5,000 Unite Charlotte grant.
With funding from the United Way, one of the plans for Lakewood Neighborhood Alliance is to hire an executive director to manage to execute the realization of the LNA’s vision to reduce crime, build trust, and improve the overall quality of living for residents.
“Lakewood is at serious risk of gentrification, at a time when residents need to be working together and thinking critically about the changes they want to see happen in their community,” Jamall Kinard, president of Lakewood Neighborhood Alliance, said. “A lack of trust and living every day from a place of survival, keeps community members from engaging in a meaningful way.” 
The grants support neighborhoods in the early stages of comprehensive revitalization. Grants will build the capacity of organizations, fund community engagement activities and complete resident‐driven neighborhood planning to identify needs and solutions.
“Thanks to the generosity of our community and the hard work of our volunteers, we are able to take a significant step forward in our effort to increase economic mobility across our region,” said Sean Garrett, executive director of UWCC. When we come together as one, it really is possible to build a stronger community where everyone has more opportunity to succeed.”
The UWCC shifted its community impact strategy over the past year. Insights from the Charlotte‐Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force report and more than 200 community conversations informed the strategy, which now focuses on building stronger neighborhoods, increasing racial equity and improving the systems that serve children and families.
“With Lakewood having a full time executive director as the leader and spokesperson for the neighborhood, this will help create more opportunities for building social capital for and assist with positioning residents for upward mobility,” Kinard said.
“We recognize that significant change takes a willingness to do things differently,” said Wes Beckner, UWCC board chair and BB&T regional president. “After two years of careful planning and collaboration with our community partners, we strongly believe our approach will help change the odds for children and families across our region.”
The goal of the alliance is to help build trust among residents and stakeholders to develop an economically empowered community, hopefully resulting in stabilization for families and assisting in upward mobility.
“This is proof that the United Way is committed to finding innovative ways to dealing with the very complex challenges that have plague the Greater Charlotte Community for years,” Kinard said.   “We must provide all of our communities with the necessary economic support, leadership development, and social capital in order for us to have true equity across all neighbors throughout Charlotte.”
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