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

Thank You, Mayor Menino




Former Mayor Tom Menino was fondly remembered around the United Way office today upon news of his passing.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Menino family and all of the Bostonians who knew and loved their mayor.

From UW President Mike Durkin:

“At United Way, we join all the people in Boston and beyond in grieving the loss of former mayor Thomas M. Menino. Personally, I will always remember and be grateful for how he welcomed me from the beginning, when I came here to Boston 7 years ago, in getting to know the people and neighborhoods of the City. The first thing that struck me about him was the obvious way that he cared for all of Boston’s people: hands-on and heart-on-his-sleeve.  Continue reading

Gillette Superheroes Pack 1,200 Seriously Impressive Bags of Household Items for Families

When we heard that our partners at P&G Gillette were going to pack 1,200 full grocery-size bags stocked with household and personal care items for the families at our partner agencies, we were thrilled.  When we heard they were going to do it all in a very short time, we were concerned.  After all, it takes us over a week to pack our 5,500 similarly sized Thanksgiving grocery bags every year for Thanksgiving Project!

Fortunately, Gillette was undaunted and had superheroes on hand who were up to the task.  Pumped up for their superhero-themed campaign this month, employees took shifts packing the bags and quickly filled them all with crazy impressive efficiency.  On Friday morning, 26 United Way partner agencies – from Lawrence, to Lynn, to Roxbury – pulled up their cars to the loading dock and Gillette employees greeted them with a smile and quickly filled up their cars with the bags of much needed items for the youth and families that they serve. Continue reading

Who Danced it Better: Patriots or Hyde Square Task Force?

Patriots help create NFL Play 60 fitness zone at Hyde Square Task Force in Jamaica Plain and join kids in one of their favorite off-field workouts: dancing!


Watch the amazing VIDEO on Instagram of the salsa dance the HSTF youth taught the players. Tell us who you think danced it best!  You can also see more photos on Facebook.

Teens at the Hyde Square Task Force in Jamaica Plain received a special treat on Monday as part of the NFL and United Way’s annual Hometown Huddle – not only a new Play 60 fitness room, but the opportunity to work out with Patriots players Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and Zach Moore in one of their favorite exercises: dancing!

Patriots players teamed up with United Way and volunteers to transform Hyde Square Task Force’s dance studio into a multi-purpose fitness room.  As part of the afternoon’s activities, players also talked with the kids about being active and healthy and joined the organization’s dance team in practicing a group dance number. Continue reading

Mayor Walsh Launches Office of Financial Empowerment

United Way and LISC to fund new financial opportunity centers in Dudley Square and Financial District

Roxbury FSC Big Check

BOSTON – Today Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Vice Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Cities of Opportunity Task Force, launched a wide-ranging effort to address poverty and income inequality in Boston with the help of several partners. Joined by Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and representatives from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Jewish Vocational Service, Mayor Walsh announced the formation of a new Office of Financial Empowerment. The collaborative effort, part of Mayor Walsh’s pledge to tackle systemic inequality, will allow the City and its partners to better align their work on the issue, develop creative strategies, and deliver coordinated services to residents. Continue reading