How the PE/VC industry is DRIVE-ing progress on early childhood

More than 1/3 of Boston’s entering kindergarteners don’t have the skills to succeed. By third grade, that number doubles to 2/3.

These numbers are strong predictors of future graduation rates, incomes, and our community’s long-range economic prosperity.  But at least we have that information. What is sorely lacking is information on how kids are doing early on before school, when research has proven that identifying and correcting developmental delays will have the greatest positive impact.

Today, United Way and the PE/VC Council (a group of Private Equity and Venture Capital industry leaders) announced the DRIVE initiative: Data and Resources Impacting Vital Early Education with the goal to stop school failure before it ever starts by using proven screening methods and data analysis to have the greatest impact.

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Massachusetts Launches Pay for Success Initiative to Reduce Chronic Individual Homelessness

United Way partners in new program that will provide 500 units of stable supportive housing for up to 800 chronically homeless individuals over 6 years.  More photos.

 FRAMINGHAM – Monday, December 8, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced the launch of a Massachusetts Pay for Success (PFS) initiative that will leverage philanthropic and private capital investments to reduce chronic individual homelessness, creating a new model of sustainable state support for chronically homeless individuals. The initiative will provide 500 units of stable supportive housing for up to 800 chronically homeless individuals over 6 years, improving the well-being of individuals while saving taxpayer dollars by reducing the utilization of costly emergency resources like shelter and Medicaid payments.

“Government’s role is to help people help themselves. It is critical that we reduce the reliance on emergency services and provide individuals safe and stable housing that will help strengthen our communities and last for generations to come,” said Governor Patrick. Continue reading

Get that Light In


Karol Nina knows what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land.  And she’s taken that experience to make a difference in the lives of girls who know the feeling.

While the wind blew and the snow swirled and everyone else was shuttered inside their homes and the streets were devoid of traffic, Karol Nina and her sister and her mother stood hip-deep in a drift, holding hands, throwing up fistfuls of powder into the air, basking in the winter chill.

“It was the weirdest feeling,” she says. “We couldn’t feel our legs and no one else was out there that day. It was a blizzard. But we were having a party.”

And who could blame them? It was their first exposure to snow, having immigrated to Lynn, Massachusetts from Puerto Rico earlier in the year. Karol was 12 at the time and little did she know, a decade later, this story would become something more than a silly anecdote; it would be a bridge across cultures.

Karol Nina recently wrapped up a one-year stint working for Girls Inc. as an Americorps member, part of United Way’s broad, 12-person term charged with serving in Lynn agencies with the mission of helping the immigrant population better their education and grasp on the English language.

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10 Easy Ways to Give to your Community this Holiday Season

Holiday-checklistGivingOnce you’ve shopped the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and every-day-in-between deals to find the best gifts for friends and family, there still are plenty of fun, easy ways to check your community off the holiday giving list.

Feel great about helping others this holiday season and get your family and friends in on the fun too!

1.  Volunteer to prepare and serve meals to veterans and homeless at a United Way partner agency.

2.  Buy books for a child in need and help them learn and enjoy reading. Research shows that having books at home makes a huge difference in school readiness and 3rd grade reading levels – a key indicator of academic success.

3.  Do you shop on Amazon? Sign up and shop through Amazon Smile and Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase to the charity of your choice. Continue reading

500 volunteers helping 25,000 people: How the Thanksgiving Project impacts so many

See more Thanksgiving Project photos in the Facebook album

150,000 pounds of food (plus the turkeys);

25,000 people who get to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal in their own home;

5,500 Thanksgiving meals distributed in 10 communities;

500 volunteers making a difference and making it all happen.

This weekend, United Way’s annual Thanksgiving Project successfully distributed 5,500 Thanksgiving meal packages to families in 10 local communities – helping 25,000 individuals to enjoy a holiday meal in their own home.

Amy Cohen, of Dorchester, waited in line with a friend for more than an hour at Catholic Charities in Dorchester on Saturday, November 22 to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey and groceries.  “It means a lot… You get the whole family together,” she told the Boston Globe.

It also means a lot to the 500 volunteers who helped pack and distribute the meals.  According volunteer Todd MacLean, who was in Dorchester on Saturday volunteering with his family for the second year in a row, “You feel tired when you’re done, but you feel great.” Continue reading

George Foreman III’s top “Fighter’s Rules” for starting your own business

George Foreman III talks about being an entrepreneur with 150 teens at the Youth Venture Pitch Day, held at Brown Brothers Harriman in Boston on Saturday

“Don’t expect everyone to believe in you if you don’t do that yourself!”

These were the first words of advice shared by George Foreman III, former professional boxer and owner of South Boston gym The Club by George Foreman III, to 150 young entrepreneurs at the Youth Venture Pitch Day on Saturday, November 15.

The stakes were high: the teens were about to pitch their ideas and carefully crafted business plans to panelists made up of volunteers from companies like Hubspot, Mass Challenge, State Street,  and more.  They would be evaluating the pitches and deciding which of the 35 Youth Venture teams would receive up to $1,000 in “seed funding” to implement their ideas.

But before being grilled by the panelists, the teens were fired up by a pep talk full of advice from the professional boxer and successful entrepreneur, who shared that most of what he learned in fighting also applies to business.  Continue reading

Lynn Family Success Center Officially Opens its Doors

New center is aimed at reducing poverty in Lynn

LYNN — Taking aim at the City’s 21.9% poverty rate, which is nearly twice the statewide average, the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley today announced the grand opening and launch of the Lynn Family Success Center on Wheeler Street.

The Lynn Family Success Center model is based on research that demonstrates that individuals who benefit from a center-based approach that offers bundled services and coaching are far more likely to increase their income, net worth or credit scores.  The center will also serve as the hub for a unique partnership between LHAND, United Way and Lynn Public Schools to identify homeless children, and children at-risk of homelessness, and connect them to academic support and resources, and to also connect their families to the financial stability services.  United Way is awarding $810,000 over the next three years to support both the financial stability services and the school outreach efforts at the center. Continue reading

35 Plans for Social Impact Created by Teenage Entrepreneurs

The YPP group from Children's Services of Greater Roxbury pitches their "Can You Hear Me?" initiative.
Can You Hear Me?” The YPP Youth Venture from Children’s Services of Greater Roxbury pitches their anti-hazing and anti-bullying project

In a social impact, youth-driven version of television’s “Shark Tank” – minus the snarky comments and big egos – more than 125 teenagers, comprising 35 teams from across Lynn and Greater Boston, showed up at the Brown Brothers Harriman office in downtown Boston on Saturday,  November 15, 2014 to pitch their ideas for social change and compete for up to $1,000 in seed money.

As part of United Way’s Youth Venture initiative these social entrepreneurs spent the last two months working with their mentors (United Way volunteers from many of our local corporate partners) to flush out their ideas and develop business plans which included objectives, strategies, and estimated budgets.

They then gave up a Saturday to pitch their plans and prepared to be grilled (like all entrepreneurs seeking funding) by panelists that included top business leaders at companies like Hubspot, Mass Challenge, State Street, Brown Brothers Harriman, and more, for the chance to put their plan into action.

So what do our local youth want to change? Continue reading

Community Investment Tax Credits for 2014 set to expire December 31st

Less than 8 weeks remain for donors to claim the new Community Investment Tax Credits for the 2014 tax year and support the work of Community Development Corporations across the Commonwealth.  The Community Investment Tax Credit Program (CITC), which went into effect earlier this year, is a new program designed to help improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for families and neighborhoods across the Commonwealth.

The Community Investment Tax Credit offers individuals, corporations and nonprofit institutions the opportunity to obtain a 50% Massachusetts state tax credit and up to a 35% standard federal tax deduction (depending on tax bracket) while investing in the economic development of the communities that need help most. That means if someone donates $1,000, for example, they will receive both a $500 credit from the State and a $175 net reduction from their Federal taxes, leaving just $325 in out-of-pocket cost for the donor.  Continue reading

United Way’s network of financial stability centers expands in Quincy

State Rep. Tackey Chan ,former client & QCAP Board member Tahlia Gunter, QCAP Executive Director Beth Ann Strollo, and United Way President Mike Durkin celebrate the new Financial REACH Center

QCAP and United Way launch Greater Quincy Financial REACH Center

Quincy Community Action Programs (QCAP) and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley today launched the Greater Quincy Financial REACH Center on Hancock Street, the first center of its kind on the South Shore aimed at creating more opportunities for local individuals and families to overcome poverty and achieve more stable financial futures.  Research shows that individuals who benefit from this center-based approach are three to four times more likely to increase their income, net worth, or credit score.  QCAP and United Way were joined by State Representative Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy), State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) and Dean Rizzo, President of the Quincy Chamber of Commerce, at the announcement. Continue reading