20 Wins for 2020


20 Ways YOU and United Way Started Building a Better Tomorrow

At the beginning of the year, none of us were prepared for what we would confront. No one knew how long this crisis would last. No one knew how many in our community would need our help. 

This year proved we don’t live in an equal society. Households struggling to get by before 2020 are facing even greater challenges today. The “new normal” – full of uncertainty and change – made it clear to me we needed to do more than adapt to a post-pandemic world. We needed to build a better one for us all. 

Faced with a once-in-a-generation challenge, Southeast Louisiana stepped up. United Way staff, donors, volunteers, and partners came together in an unprecedented way. We helped our neighbors most impacted by the global pandemic and economic downturn get the relief and support they needed.

Here are 20 ways you and United Way started building a better tomorrow, today. 

1. Launched the Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund – with the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation,  Southeast Legal Services, Loyola Center for Counseling and Education, and partners – to provide free civil legal aid, counseling services, and $2.4 million in emergency crisis grants to 4,800+ hospitality workers unable to afford basic needs 

2. Transitioned the yearlong FAME (Financially-Aware, Motivated, and Empowered) education series to virtual sessions to continue offering expert financial capability advice on topics like managing debt, rebuilding credit, and planning personal savings

3. Launched the United Way HandsOn Entergy Volunteer Center to mobilize volunteers in response to growing community needs

4. Managed $800,000+ in federal grants to fund nonprofits and places of worship providing emergency food and shelter to people in need

5. Served 2,500+ meals to EMS providers across our seven-parish service area in the early, most-challenging months of the pandemic with Folgers and JM Smucker Co

6. Provided over $17,000 in grants for suicide prevention, mental health services, and other United Way programs serving St. Tammany Parish through our 2020 Red Beans ‘N’ Rice Take-Outs

7. Granted $2+ million with BET to local programs to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Black communities in the areas of health, education, and economic stability

8. Reported a 0% recidivism rate in Jefferson Parish for participants in our Louisiana Prisoner Re-entry Initiative, which provides resources and support needed post-bail, including transportation, employment, case management, and legal services

9. Joined with New Orleans native Anthony Mackie, Entergy New Orleans, and the Council on Aging to launch the United for Grocery Workers Relief Fund to provide one-time credits toward workers’ Entergy bills

10. Funded a partnership with GNO, Inc. to examine the digital literacy and technological upskilling needs of workers hit hardest by COVID-19 and provide a report on strategies necessary to close the digital skills gap

11.Donated 30,000 masks, 73,000 toilet paper rolls, and additional PPE to partners throughout Southeast Louisiana to help vulnerable residents and frontline workers 

12. Marked United Way's Public Policy Committee seventh anniversary with significant legislative wins – even in a COVID-19 affected session – like domestic violence reform and protections for breast cancer and reconstruction patients

13. Created the Nancy Marsiglia Institute of Justice’s Alumni Association with Loyola University New Orleans College of Law to engage the Institute’s graduates to build their collective capacity to improve our community through advocacy and public policy and further the program’s mission to reclaim civil discourse

14. Launched the 2020 ALICE Report for Louisiana with new research on race and COVID-19 effects  to continue driving awareness of the number of families in our community who live above the poverty level, but can’t afford to make ends meet

15. Helped 68 child care sites access $4.2 million in public funding to stay afloat during the pandemic through United for Early Care and Education with support from Agenda for Children and Loyola University New Orleans College of Law 

16.Delivered 800,000+ meals to homebound residents through the United Way HandsOn Entergy Volunteer Center & DoorDash

17. Supported 7,000+ Hurricane Laura evacuees by collecting $445,000 in supply donations, creating 2,000 care bags, and distributing $25,000 in free Uber rides | Raised over $180,000 collectively with Saints Pro Bowler Cam Jordan and generous donors like you | Partnered with the American Red Cross of Louisiana to provide financial assistance to help families return home

18. Received three Pacesetter finalist awards and one Bright Spot honor from the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for our New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s work in the impact areas of summer and afterschool, collaboration, and philanthropic engagement 

19. Led a joint effort to raise $845,000 to fund nonprofit partners addressing the COVID-19 housing and food insecurity crisis with support from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Methodist Health System Foundation, Inc., the Goldring Family Foundation, and Pres Kabacoff

20. Provided over $430,000 in mortgage and rental assistance program to households struggling to make ends meet in Orleans Parish 

Thank you for your efforts in making these wins possible amidst the challenges of 2020.

Still, there is so much more to do. Tens of thousands in our community are struggling with unemployment, food and housing insecurity, and health issues. 

These are our neighbors, and they cannot wait any longer for relief, for support, for equality, for the opportunity to live a healthy, thriving life. 

Let’s not put off for tomorrow the work we can start today. We must build a better future for our community, one where every person has an equal opportunity to thrive.

Together, we can build a tomorrow that is better than yesterday – for every single one of us. All we need to do is start today, United.

Living United, 

Michael WilliamsonMichael Williamson

President and CEO 

United Way of Southeast Louisiana