United Way introduces Blueprint for Prosperity to Eradicate Poverty, Announces $14.65 Million Community Investment and Live United Awards

United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA), at its 2016 Annual Meeting, today introduced its Blueprint for Prosperity to help achieve its goal to eradicate poverty in southeast Louisiana. The Blueprint is taking a holistic approach that not only addresses the symptoms of poverty faced by residents today, but creates pathways of prosperity for generations to come.

Michael Williamson, President and CEO of United Way of Southeast Louisiana says,” Our vision is equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and economically stable.  42%, or nearly half the families in southeast Louisiana, are living in poverty or on the threshold of poverty. They aren’t meeting basic needs including housing, child care, health care, food and transportation.”

United Way Board of Trustees Chair Todd Slack says “19% of our population lives in poverty and must survive on as little as $11,490 for individuals and $23,550 for a family of four. Another 23% lives on the threshold of poverty. United Way identifies those households as ALICE. ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.”

The United Way ALICE Report explains these individuals are hardworking tax payers who don’t fit the traditional idea of poverty.  They hold lower wage paying jobs such as cashiers, store clerks, office assistants, food service workers and more. ALICE households are living paycheck to paycheck – unable to save and are often one health emergency, one car repair, or one harsh storm away from poverty. 

United Way says family stability and prosperity can only take hold if individuals are mentally and physically healthy, self-sufficient, and living in communities they are proud to call home. The Blueprint shows United Way’s work in stability today and prosperity tomorrow is reinforced by a focus on personal wellness and vibrant communities.

The Blueprint for Prosperity and new outcomes framework are driving United Way’s future investments in the community. United Way has changed its grant making approach to Collective Impact - which involves businesses, nonprofits, foundations, government, churches, schools and individuals coming together to break down silos, align programs and resources and set shared goals.

United Way is continuing to partner with local agencies for program grants, but has also opened the process to organizations that may never have received funding. United Way is also launching new collaborative grants designed to support groups of relevant stakeholders taking a collaborative approach to systems change in addressing poverty in the region. 

Williamson says, “In order to realize this very bold agenda, we know we will have to do business differently. Now, even though individual donors can still designate their gifts to outside agencies, all our program grants must align with the Blueprint in order to be funded.  We want others to be inspired by our vision and partner with us in this Collective Impact approach to quality jobs, growing incomes and better health and education opportunities in every parish in the region.”

Many already invest in the community through United Way. Thanks to thousands of individuals, corporate donors, organizations and foundations, UWSELA has raised $14.65 million in its 2015-2016 Campaign.  The fundraising effort was conducted April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016 in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington Parishes.

United Way Campaign Chair Rick Haase, president of Latter & Blum Inc. says, “Our campaign theme was ‘What this place needs is YOU!’ because it takes all of us, working together, with donations large and small, to bring us one step closer to our overall goal – to eradicate poverty in southeast Louisiana. Helping families lift themselves out of poverty creates communities where children succeed in school, people are healthy and productive, and families are financially stable. When that happens, we all benefit.”

More than 20,000 individuals contributed to UWSELA reaching its fundraising goal. These donors came from both at-home solicitations and employee fundraising campaigns within United Way’s 800+ partnering organizations. Shell and Entergy were again the top two companies.  Shell raised $2.7 million through employee pledges and a corporate gift. Entergy and its employees gave $888,000. Federal employees, including military and postal workers, raised nearly $929,000.

Two local philanthropists made generous donations which ensured final campaign success. One individual, wishing to remain anonymous, gave $1.25 million. Dathel and John Georges, owners of the New Orleans Advocate daily newspaper, pledged an additional million dollars. The Georges say, “We are more than happy giving to United Way to support the local community where our customers, employees and family live and work.”

Overall, donors have designated contributions to 1,419 nonprofit agencies and 29 United Way Initiatives.

United Way asks the community to GIVE, ADVOCATE, VOLUNTEER. Today 30 awards were handed out to recognize individuals, businesses and organizations for their achievements during the latest United Way campaign.

United Way also elected new Board of Trustees members. Charles Rice, CEO, Entergy New Orleans is the new Chairman of the Board. Bob Kimbro, Managing Partner, Louisiana EY, as the 2016-2017 Campaign Chair.