United Way Boston Marathon Team Returns to Finish the Race

Last year, United Way had a small team of Boston Marathon runners who trained, fundraised, and ran hard on behalf of United Way.  On that day,  so many were denied the opportunity to finish, but this year they will return to Hopkington even stronger; ready to finish the race.  We are honored to have them running on our behalf and can’t wait to cheer them on Monday!

Nick Darsch of Boston Financial Data Services was .3 miles from the finish last year when his race abruptly ended. In this Q&A, he talks about his experience and why he continues to run and volunteer for the community.

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Do It Grow It Conference connects 150 youth with expertise, enthusiasm

Youth Venture teams attend volunteer-powered workshops to perfect their projects.

On Saturday, March 29, over 150 youth from Boston to Lynn to Lowell descended on Boston College for the first ever Youth Venture Do It Grow It Conference, put on by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Thirty-five teams of youth were represented, each one working on a social entrepreneurship project, designed to enrich their community.

“They had an amazing time,” said Natasha Noel, Director of Community Impact for United Way. “Not one person that I spoke with left saying it wasn’t worth their time. From the adult allies to the youth, everyone said the content was directly relevant to what they were doing for their projects.”

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Penny-Smart Kids informs, entertains 330 preschool children

As Victoria and Dayna read, the circle closed in on them, tighter and tighter. But it was a good sign: the Koalas were into it.

Victoria Martin and Dayna Ford, employees of Bottomline Technologies, were sitting in the pre-kindergarten Koala classroom of Great Bay Kids’ Company in Portsmouth, participating in a unique volunteer opportunity from United Way of the Greater Seacoast.

Penny-Smart Kids is United Way’s newest volunteer-powered program, an early learning initiative designed to equip young children with starter concepts of money, spending and saving.
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United Way, Thrive in 5 and WGBH team up to blend animation with exploration and give East Boston families a memorable early learning experience.

There was no other way to describe it: the kid was a typhoon, a nuclear-powered toddler that couldn’t sit still for five consecutive seconds and produced a trail of dirt and debris in his jet-stream. Alexis Agrinsoni steeled himself. It was going to be an interesting 90 minutes.

It was 10:00 a.m. on February 12, 2014 and Alexis, an intern for Thrive in 5, the early learning collaborative between the City of Boston and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, was at the East Boston Social Center. The first in a six-week series of unique playgroups was about to begin. Typically, these playgroups, modeled after the Boston Public School’s Countdown to Kindergarten initiative, bring together neighborhood families for a few hours of play, activities, and parent to parent conversation.

But this time, things were going to be different. Because, today, the kids were going to get to watch TV.

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Second Granite Youth Film Festival kicks off with panel event

Five groups of regional youth gathered at Epping Middle School to pitch their visions for original short films dealing with substance abuse prevention. It was the second annual panel event, hosted by United Way of the Greater Seacoast and the Granite Youth Alliance, a regional youth leadership council.

Students presented their ideas for the films along with budgets to a panel of United Way staff and community volunteers. The end result will be a series of student-produced films to be premiered at O’neill Cinemas for the second annual Granite Youth Film Festival and subsequently shown at schools and events.

“We have some alarming trends here in New Hampshire, whether were talking about underage alcohol or marijuana use,” said Sandi Coyle, Substance Misuse Regional Coordinator. “These projects our youth are presenting will make a difference in the lives of their peers.”

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Feeling the impact


Ellen King is one of United Way’s most dedicated champions. But it wasn’t always this way.

If you were to chart Ellen King’s United Way involvement, perhaps with a fancy line graph, you would notice a relatively flat line for several years –

“I was a cynic about United Way,” she says. “It seemed like a great, big monolithic organization that I couldn’t understand.”

– and then, about four years ago, a spike in the trajectory, coinciding with her exposure to the Women’s Leadership Council and the Annual Women’s Breakfast, which offered a unique window into United Way’s work.

And she was off, on her way to becoming one of United Way’s strongest advocates. King, Vice President and Associate General Counsel of Sun Life Financial U.S, saw her degree of involvement “escalate geometrically;” from an increase in giving, to volunteerism at events like the Community Baby Shower, to co-chairing Mass Bay’s Women’s Leadership Council. What happened?

“The single most important thing for me was to see and touch the work United Way does,” she says. “I’ve been able to visit United Way partner agencies and have met the most impressive people and clients.”

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“Brain Building in Progress” Week kicks off across Massachusetts

BBiP Week highlights events for families and children in 85 communities; Campaign aims to engage all who interact with children around the importance of early childhood development

BOSTON – The rising national prominence of the importance of early childhood development to future school success and economic prosperity will be in the local spotlight next week as the 3rd annual “Brain Building in Progress” Week kicks off April 5 in 85 communities across the state.  For one week every year, United Way and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care bring together parents, business leaders, educators, and community leaders to build young minds and a more prosperous future for everyone in Massachusetts. Continue reading

Healthcare Industry and United Way: Stronger Together

Over its 9-year history, United Way’s Healthcare Leadership Breakfast has raised over $2 million that  has been invested in our work with children, youth, and families.

These event sponsorships, however, are more than just seats at a breakfast; they are critical resources that also enable us to make an impact here in our local communities. This morning’s event celebrated the critical partnership between United Way and the healthcare industry, in our shared philosophy of addressing root causes, and taking a preventative approach to caring for the community.

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Celebrating the community’s impact on one million lives

2014 LIVE UNITED Awards honor volunteers, corporate and community partners

Last night, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley celebrated the impact of more than 60,000 individual donors, volunteers, community and corporate partners who together have helped to impact the lives of one million children, youth and families in the region.  This powerful network of donors and volunteers is helping to advance United Way’s comprehensive approach to complex community issues such as reducing poverty and the achievement gap by focusing resources on increasing school readiness, helping youth to stay in school and succeed and helping to prevent and reduce homelessness.

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Spotlight on the LIVE UNITED Spirit Award Corporate Finalists

Behind the many individuals who give, advocate, and volunteer for United Way are companies and community agencies who have been dedicated, longstanding partners.

The LIVE UNITED Spirit Award is given to both an individual and a company who demonstrates the United Way spirit though giving, advocating and volunteering.  The corporate finalists nominated in this category are steadfast partners, and it’s no exaggeration to say that our work would not be possible without them. Every act, every contribution, every hour that people have volunteered enables us to have a stronger impact than any one of us can alone. Continue reading