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From the Board Chair and President

 

In This Issue

The 2011 Campaign is in full swing.  In every corner of Erie County, the abundant generosity of Western New Yorkers is evident - from individual donors, workplace campaigns at more than 1,100 companies, to contributions through scanning campaigns at local grocery stores and independent markets like Wegmans, Jubilee, and Elmwood Market.  We are optimistic that our fundraising efforts this year will build on the momentum created during our successful 2010 Campaign and result in even more resources for health and human service programs in Erie County.

Over the past two years, the staff and leadership of United Way have worked to enhance the organization's relevance in the community; build and enhance coalitions around important community areas; and be unfailingly accountable to our donors and to the community we serve. This edition of our newsletter is full of stories about those efforts, from the removal of the administrative fee on designated gifts, to some of the achievements of our collaborative activities, to volunteer engagement efforts on the Day of Caring and beyond.

Thank you for your past - and ongoing - commitment to helping us achieve our mission for this precious community that we share.

 

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2011 Campaign Goal - A Chance to Rewrite Someone's Story

 

Schiller Park Community Services was the setting on September 12 as Dennis Elsenbeck, regional executive for National Grid and chair of the 2011 Campaign, announced this year's Campaign goal - $13.5 million - to a group of United Way Board members, agency partners, volunteers, and participants in Schiller Park's United Way-funded senior citizens program.

Building on 2010 success

Following up a stellar 2010 Campaign, where more than 53,000 individuals, companies, and foundations helped raise just over $13.3 million, Elsenbeck emphasized the role that we all have to play in the success of this year's campaign and enthusiastically pledged - on behalf of United Way - to continue the trend of 2010's success.

United Way Board Chair Bob Zak joined Elsenbeck in pledging his support to the Campaign, stating, "We achieved that success because of our donors, and we achieved it for the community...for all the people in need who received United Way funded services last year."

Creating Change

Michael Weiner, president, thanked donors for their generous support of United Way's mission and said, "The annual United Way Campaign is a substantial fundraising effort, but it is far more than that. It is an opportunity for each of us to "Rewrite Someone's Story" and to help create change in the life of someone in need.

Michael Tritto, executive director of Schiller Park, noted the importance of United Way support to the agency and the people it serves.  "The funding we received this year is a catalyst to create new activities for our active senior population focused on promoting greater fitness and wellness," he said. "The United Way's priorities of using best practices and measuring the impact of its funded programs, are helping our organization take proactive steps to expand our senior program to better meet the needs of seniors today and tomorrow."

Here is what Dennis Elsenbeck had to say as he revealed the 2011 goal:

 

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Belmont Housing Resources - Tammy's Story

 

Tammy and her two daughters have moved from one rental place to another for many years.  Longing for a permanent place to call home for herself and her two young daughters, Tammy realized she needed some guidance.

With poor credit, low income and rising debt, she was on her way to bankruptcy and would never own a home.  

Thankfully, with the help of a United Way funded program at Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, Tammy learned how to manage her finances, improve her credit score, set up a budget, and fulfill her dream of buying a home for her family.

Your support of United Way helped rewrite Tammy's story.  Thank you for making a difference.

 

 

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Processing Fee Eliminated

 

In August, donors and service providers alike learned that the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County Board of Directors voted to eliminate the 13% processing fee on donor designated contributions that had been in place since 1984.  This policy change will add an estimated $220,000 in unrestricted funds to community agencies this year.

"Changing this policy will allow us to build on the momentum we created last year, further enhance our relationship with donors and agencies, increase contributions to agencies, and ultimately improve quality of life in our community," said United Way President Michael Weiner.

 

Previously covered overhead costs

"Unrestricted support, as you know, is difficult to obtain in the current economic environment. United Way's willingness to forego their own legitimate administrative costs speaks volumes about their respect for the necessity to minimize overhead charges while maximizing service delivery."

--Agency Executive Association (AEA)

The processing fee had previously been used to offset the administrative costs of collecting and distributing the designated funds to area agencies, including recordkeeping, check processing, and researching agencies. United Way has worked tirelessly to continue to increase efficiencies and streamline resources in order to make this new policy possible.

We understand the importance of maximizing charitable giving, especially during these difficult economic times, and we want to facilitate our community's generosity to the fullest possible extent. We are confident that this will increase our donor base as more people choose the convenience of donor designation.

 

Making a donor designated gift

A full list of agencies eligible to receive donor designations this year, as well as instructions for designating a gift to an agency not listed, is available on our website at www.uwbec.org/donordesignation. To view our donor designation policy, as well as all our donor policies, visit www.uwbec.org/donorpolicies.  If you have any questions, please call us at 716.887-2757 or e-mail us at customerservice@uwbec.org


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 A Brighter Holiday Is Only A Text Message Away

 

Did you know that you can make the holidays brighter for a struggling family this year just by sending a text? It's easy - just text TOYS to 20222 to give $10*, which will be used to purchase toys to be distributed through the Western New York Holiday Partnership.


*A one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Donor must be age 18+ and all donations must be authorized by the account holder (e.g. parents). By texting YES, the user agrees to the terms and conditions. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the "United Way of Buffalo and Erie County" by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Message & Data Rate May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help. For our privacy policy and all other donor policies, visit www.uwbec.org/donorpolicies.

 

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Report to the Community

 

On November 9, more than 150 representatives from local companies, foundations, government, and nonprofit agencies gathered at the First Niagara Center Harbour Club for our annual Report to the Community. The event included an address by John Koelmel, president and CEO of First Niagara; remarks from United Way board chair and CEO of Merchants Insurance Bob Zak, Campaign chair and Regional Executive of National Grid Dennis Elsenbeck, and president Michael Weiner; and a question and answer session facilitated by Steve Finch, United Way vice chair and GM Powertrain plant manager.

John Koelmel opened the event with an inspirational speech, offering reflections on his many years as a United Way volunteer.  He noted that First Niagara's local success depends on a thriving and vibrant community, and highlighted their support of United Way through the Campaign and through the volunteer efforts of First Niagara employees.

Bob Zak then highlighted some of our most significant accomplishments against our five-year Strategic Plan. He also thanked the audience members for their role in our success, saying, "Each of you has a role to play in our mission - CEOs and representatives from companies that generously support the annual Campaign; United Way board members and other volunteers who give so generously of your time; and representatives from our funded programs and community partners who bring our mission to life every day." 

Some of the accomplishments he highlighted included the success of the 2010 Campaign, which raised $13.3 million and was the first year-over-year Campaign increase in a decade; increased investments in community programs; and the elimination of the processing fee on donor designated contributions.

Michael Weiner then presented an overview of some of the outcomes achieved through United Way-funded programs in Education, Income, and Health & Wellness during the most recent two-year funding cycle, which ended in June of this year.  Some examples included: programs in Education - 25,538 children were enrolled in high quality child care; 15,449 youth improved their average daily attendance; and 15,737 youth improved their grade point average. In Income, 18,627 individuals utilized free income tax preparation services, 1,647 individuals secured employment, and 174 individuals purchased homes with the support of homebuyer education and matched savings programs.  Outcomes achieved by programs in Health & Wellness include 1,080 at-risk mothers being enrolled in prenatal care or receiving other assistance to improve the health of their children; 11,386 children and youth avoiding institutionalization or foster placement; and  3,788 seniors receiving transportation to health professionals or grocery stores. 

"These outcomes are not just numbers; each one represents one person, one life that has been enriched through the services that you make possible - whether as a donor, a volunteer, or as agency staff," he said.  "I want to thank you for "rewriting the stories" of so many people across Erie County."

Michael also discussed our progress against our Business Plan, highlighting our work in Community Impact, Resource Development, and Organizational Development.  Finally, he discussed a number of goals for the coming year, including an increased focus on research and data for use in the 2013-2015 community investments process; a partnership with The Service Collaborative to develop a more robust online volunteer resource; continued focus on endowment and planned giving efforts; and exploration of alliances and shared service arrangements within the not for profit community as well as with local United Ways in Western New York.

After a brief Q&A session, Dennis Elsenbeck offered closing remarks, expressed his gratitude for the support of the community, and ended with a rousing call to action.  "Each of you is here today for a reason," he said. "You would not have taken the time out of your day this morning unless you truly cared about making this community a better place. I thank you in advance for joining me in making this year's Campaign an even bigger success - we can do tremendous things if we work together."

Our 2011-2012 Annual Report and Leaders of Change Membership Roster was distributed to all in attendance.  To download a copy, click here.

 

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Gioia Family Named Philanthropists of the Year

 

On October 25, the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County Tocqueville Society recognized the Gioia Family as its Philanthropists of the Year at a reception for Tocqueville members held at the Darwin Martin House.

Late family patriarch and successful business executive, Horace A. Gioia, impressed upon his children the importance of giving back to their community. With their mother, Anna, providing continuing inspiration to this day, the Gioia children and their spouses have followed their father's lead and have made a positive and lasting impact on Western New York. Along with Anna, the Gioias and their spouses honored as the United Way's Philanthropists of the Year include Anthony and Donna; Richard and Anne; Robert and Sally; Angela and Gary Porter; Horace, Jr. and Wendy; and Frederic and Maureen.

Many organizations in Western New York have benefited from having a Gioia serve on their boards, whether as chair or vice-chair or as board members. Some examples of past and current service include Nichols School, Canisius College, Children's Hospital, Kaleida Health System, Roswell Park Alliance, the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Buffalo Zoo, Darwin Martin Restoration Corporation, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County.

In addition, Robert Gioia is currently president of The John R. Oishei Foundation, the region's largest private charitable foundation. The Foundation has over $284 million in assets and granted over $19 million to support the community in 2010. Its mission is to be a catalyst for change to enhance the economic vitality and the quality of life for the Buffalo Niagara region.

The Gioia Family also played an integral role in the development of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, which was formed to lead the revitalization of Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The resurgence of Roswell played a major role in the formation of the Medical Campus, one of Western New York's most successful economic development projects.

Speaking for the family, Robert Gioia said, "It is our privilege to work with so many of our community's extraordinary human service, health, education and cultural organizations.  We find it deeply rewarding to give back to the community we call home."

The United Way Tocqueville Society is composed of local individuals and families who contribute $10,000 or more to the annual Campaign.  Last year, the 78 Tocqueville members contributed a total of $1.3 million - 10 percent of the organizations $13.3 million fundraising total.

Previously honored Philanthropists of the Year include:  the Lawley Family; Edward F. Walsh, Jr. and Virginia Walsh; Mary and Ralph Wilson, Jr.; Stanford and Judith Lipsey; Ruth Kahn Stovroff; Frank and Donna McGuire; Elisabeth and Robert Wilmers; Patricia and Richard Garman; James J. Stovroff and Haskell I. Stovroff (in memoriam); Anne and Jack Hahn; Carol and Reginald Newman II; Sally and Randy Marks; Peggy and Jeremy Jacobs; Peggy and Charles Balbach; Patricia Colby; Robert Quintana; Margaret G. Swift; Robert J. Donough; Burt P. Flickinger; Seymour H. Knox III; and Armand J. Castellani.

 

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Thousands of Volunteers Show They Care

 

In one single, inspiring August day, nearly 3,200 volunteers from companies across Erie County gave their time, talent, and boundless energy to make a positive and lasting impact on our community at the 19th Annual United Way Day of Caring.

The logistical phenomenon was executed by volunteers at 149 local companies who rolled up their sleeves and got to work, helping 104 area agencies complete projects that they would not have been able to accomplish without the added manpower and resources provided by the United Way Day of Caring volunteers.

Behind the scenes, the entire United Way staff helped by coordinating project and company recruitment, ensuring project readiness, and managing countless other tasks to ensure that everything was event-ready for the big day.

 

Rewriting someone's story

Volunteers gave their all - many of them getting covered in dirt or paint - in order to improve the work spaces and properties of the nonprofit agencies who don't have the resources to complete it themselves. But the work they accomplished is about much more than a fresh coat of paint or a beautiful garden. It often serves as a pivotal turning point for the agencies and for the individuals that they serve - providing the positive environment, inspiration, and hope that they need to change lives for the better. The volunteers did, indeed, Rewrite Someone's Story - a living expression of this year's campaign theme.

 

No stone left unturned

Some of the 148 Day of Caring projects throughout Western New York included:

  • Building and repairing playground equipment at day care centers
  • Digging up old shrubs, weeding and planting at community gardens
  • Spending valuable time with the elderly at nursing homes
  • Painting walls and fences, building stairs and bookcases, and installing ceiling tiles and flooring at agency offices and community centers
  • Playing games and creating crafts with children at recreation centers

 

Our dedicated sponsors

None of the day's activities would have been possible without the support of our major sponsors: HSBC, Wegmans, and National Grid. We are also grateful to our in-kind sponsors, who generously provided products and services to help make the day a success: Buffalo Party Rental, Buffalo Sabres, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Delaware North Companies/Sportservice, Erie County Sheriff's Department, First Student, HSBC Arena, Indigo Productions, Otremba Paint & Supply, Sherwin-Williams Co., and DJ Johnny K.

Not too early to think about next year

The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County brings people, organizations and resources together to improve community well being. The Day of Caring is one of many ways we accomplish this mission. For more information about how you or your company can get involved in the 20th annual United Way Day of Caring scheduled for August 15, 2012, please call 716.887-2799 or visit www.uwbec.org/doc today.

 

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Six Sigma In Practice

 

Six Sigma - a measurement, methodology and strategy to eliminate variations and defects from processes - helps nonprofits work toward providing more efficient and effective service to their consumers, ultimately allowing them to serve more people, and serve them more consistently.

 

Six Sigma Forum Magazine of the American Society for Quality recognized our work by publishing our article "A Helping Hand" in the August 2010 issue.

Team Training

Forty nonprofits have participated in United Way's Six Sigma program, through nine cohorts (defined as a group class with accompanying projects). Participating nonprofits select an improvement project within their organization, and a cross-functional project team. Up to five team members from each nonprofit then attend five classes, each four hours in length, approximately two weeks apart. Teams work on their projects during and between classes.

 

 

A trusted leader

Six Sigma classes are led by William J. Hill, Ph. D., formerly a director of Six Sigma at Honeywell, and the director of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin. In his retirement, Bill now volunteers through the United Way Not Profit Resource Center to help nonprofits implement Six Sigma projects.

 

Earning a yellow belt

United Way partner agency King Urban Life Center participated in Cohort #5 from September 2009 through November 2010, along with the American Education Foundation, Buffalo Urban League, Community Concern of Western New York, Family Justice Center, Joan A. Male Family Support Center, and Upstate New York Transplant Services.

Lisa Alexander, program coordinator for the King Center's Parent-Child Home Program, offered her thoughts about the importance of Six Sigma training to the program:

 "The beauty of Six Sigma is that it has this universal aspect, so that no matter what your work is, it helps you improve that work so you can be more efficient, more effective. For us, in the Parent-Child Home Program, it helped us in improving our practice. One of our goals was to maintain fidelity to the model because it's such a strong model and we found that in keeping with that, it allowed us to be more effective in delivering the service."

 

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Collaborative Partnerships that Make a Difference

 

Working together to improve lives

Hundreds of area organizations work closely with United Way to have a profound and positive impact on the community. Together, these partnerships:

- Research community trends and issues
- Establish and prioritize goals and outcomes
- Build on existing community strengths and assets
- Address gaps and redundancies in services
- Identify multidimensional strategies needed to create
  community change
- Provide critical training, funding and people resources
- Support partnerships and collaboration
- Advocate for changes in social policy and systems operation
- Measure progress and results

Many people are familiar with the more visible expressions of United Way's mission - to bring people, organizations, and resources together to improve community well being.   Through our annual Campaign we raise financial resources that are directed to specific agencies by donors, or invested in education, health and human service programs through our volunteer-led Community Investments process.

There is much more to United Way's work in the community; in each of our focus areas of Education, Income, and Health and Wellness, United Way participates in and leads coalitions and collaborative efforts that achieve positive and lasting change in our region. Partners in our collaborative efforts include not-for-profit human service agencies, educational institutions, policymakers, businesses, faith and community groups, and others working together to improve the lives of individuals and families as well as community conditions.  What follows is an overview of the coalition activities in each of our platform areas.

 

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Community Impact in Education

Our efforts in Education are designed to see children from birth through high school, making sure that they have the tools they need to succeed in school and later in life.  United Way is a partner in collaborative efforts that help ensure children are ready for school when they reach the Kindergarten classroom, and help them stay engaged in learning throughout their school years and graduate ready to move on to college or career.

 

School Readiness

The first years of a child's life set the stage for future development as well as success in school and beyond. School readiness has a profound impact on the long‐term viability and success of a community, but our community does not have a consistent way to measure school readiness in our children.  In early 2010, we invited the United Way of Greater Niagara to help form the School Readiness Committee in partnership with local foundations, government, schools, and non‐profit organizations.  The Committee was charged with establishing a set of measurements for school readiness, articulating school readiness goals, and working with local experts to identify strategies and potential partnerships to accomplish these goals.

The School Readiness Committee hosted focus groups within the community to indentify the most critical indicators, and has completed a report of their findings, including recommendations on key indicators for success. Some key findings are as follows:

    • The Erie-Niagara area provides at least minimal coverage of the full range of school readiness activities;
    • There are some areas of critical need related to sustainable program funding, support for early childhood providers and staff, the importance of client engagement and outreach, and the challenges associated with navigating the current system to secure needed assistance;
    • Twenty indicators were suggested for use in tracking progress related to school readiness in Erie and Niagara Counties.
Having completed its initial study, the Committee hosted a series of presentations to stimulate further discussion around collaborative efforts, partnerships, and program and policy strategies to address the needs identified in the report. Ultimately, we hope this community conversation sparks new partnerships and generates needed support to develop and implement strategies that ensure that children in Erie and Niagara Counties enjoy a high level of school readiness.  To download a copy of the report (PDF format), click here.

 

Closing the Gap in Student Performance

Closing the Gap in Student Performance (CTG) is a highly successful school-based community collaboration that improves the academic success of students in Buffalo Public Schools by addressing non-academic barriers to learning.  CTG works with children and their families; as well as teachers, administrators, and health and human service providers, to identify ways to help families in need of critical support services.   Aligned with the Buffalo Public Schools, CTG's overall goals are to: increase academic performance; increase parental involvement; increase attendance; and, decrease disciplinary referrals and suspensions.

Closing the Gap's ability to positively influence the success of children and their families is largely due to the remarkable and unprecedented collaboration between the Buffalo Public School District; the Erie County Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Social Services; United Way of Buffalo & Erie County; Kaleida Health System, Catholic Health System; Catholic Charities; multiple health and human service providers; local foundations; corporations; and Buffalo Public School District administrators and teachers.  The CTG Leadership Team, which includes the Commissioners of the Erie County Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Social Services, the Principals of all participating schools, the Associate Superintendent and other key personnel of the Buffalo City School District, in addition to high level representatives from each Consortium partner, has provided consistent guidance since inception. 

Today CTG organizes the efforts of over 20 agencies and County Departments in supporting the needs of over 4,000 students. A Site Facilitator at each school helps the school community identify the unique needs of the students and their families and strategies for meeting those needs. Site Facilitators link agency providers to students and families to deliver services that include but are not limited to; basic needs for families (e.g. clothing, food), tutoring and mentoring, mental health services, parent programs and outreach, after school/summer programs, crisis intervention, mediation, behavior and re-entry planning, classroom management workshops and in classroom student support, peer leadership, life skills development, among others.  CTG is much more than co-location of health and human service providers on site at schools however.  CTG is a fully integrated service model that ensures consistent performance among partners - measuring outcomes against indicators of student achievement embraced by the District.  For more information on Closing the Gap, contact Jill Robbins at 716-887-2654.

 

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Community Impact in Income

Building coalitions to help local families become and remain economically self-sufficient is the primary objective of United Way's community impact efforts in the Income platform. Our coalition members include foundations, banks, credit unions, nonprofits, educational institutions, faith and community groups, and other organizations.

CASH Buffalo - a link to hope and stability

Creating Assets, Savings & Hope (CASH) Buffalo, a United Way-led initiative, has been working to increase the financial stability of low- to moderate-income families in Buffalo and Erie County since 2004. CASH Buffalo focuses on a variety of proactive, community-based asset building strategies, including:

  • Securing working family credits and other income supports (e.g., Earned Income, Education, and Child Tax Credits)
  • Improving the coordination, reach, and consistency of local financial education programming
  • Supporting education and employment opportunities
  • Encouraging homeownership and other asset development through Individual Development Account (IDA) matched savings accounts

For more information on CASH Buffalo, please visit  www.cashbuffalo.org or contact Katie Lyons at 716-887-2671.

 

The results 

Our community impact efforts in the Income platform have yielded substantial results; and, more importantly, have had a significant impact on the people in need in Buffalo and Erie County. Some of the many successful results in this area include:

  • Screening more than 9,000 individuals and families for eligibility for needed income supports and locating more than$1.3 million in assistance
  • Completing more than 62,000 tax returns for low- to moderate-income households and securing more than $77 million in tax refunds and working family credits
  • Collaborating with fourteen community partners to launch the mobile Income TAXi, which provides free tax preparation and financial education services
  • Developing and training 160 CASH Coaches, one-on-one financial mentors
  • Establishing a CASH Disability Committee to educate persons with disabilities and their families about finances and asset building

 

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Community Impact in Health & Wellness

Our community impact efforts in Health & Wellness focus on engaging Erie County residents in healthy behaviors, helping them live in safe environments, and providing them access to health and human services. One of our coalition efforts focuses on healthy lifestyles and childhood obesity, and our primary partners are the P2 Collaborative of Western New York and UBMD Physicians' Group.

Healthy lifestyles

The P2 (Pursuing Perfection) Collaborative was founded in 2002 and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of people in Western New York. United Way is a proud partner in the collaborative.  The Healthy Lifestyles Coalition, a joint initiative of P2 and United Way, works to improve the health and well-being of Western New Yorkers by supporting their adoption of healthy behaviors. 

Obesity is a significant national and local health issue.  In Erie County, 25% of the adult population is obese, and 40% of 5th graders in the Buffalo Public Schools are overweight.  United Way is partnering with the P2 Collaborative and UBMD, a practice plan that includes more than 450 physicians who are also professors at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, to lead the Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Project to help determine and address the underlying causes of childhood obesity.

Coalition work in progress

Although our collaborative efforts in Health & Wellness are fairly new, we have many initiatives underway that will help promote healthy lifestyles in Buffalo and Erie County. Here are a few highlights of the projects we are working on:

  • The Healthy Lifestyles Coalition recently completed a strategic planning process and is researching best practices in the field of healthy nutrition and physical activity.
  • The Childhood Obesity Prevention Committee completed provider and consumer focus groups and developed strategies to address barriers to a healthy start for children. These strategies include:
        - Professional development among health care providers
        - Influencing social norms around infant feeding practices
        - Healthy policy implementation at schools, physician offices, and the workplace
  • We are pursuing grants to provide the financial resources to support these strategies

For more information on the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition of WNY, or any of our Health & Wellness efforts, call 716.887.2608 or e-mail mary.k.comtois@uwbec.org.


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Tax Prep Volunteers Needed

 

Last year, Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH) and the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC) trained 80 volunteers to help prepare more than 8,300 tax returns for low- to moderate-income individuals and families, yielding $12.3 million in tax refunds. Of the people served, more than 2,400 of them qualified for Earned Income Tax Credit dollars.

In 2010, thanks to the assistance of approximately 80 volunteers, more than 2,400 individuals and families discovered they were qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). All told, the program yielded a total of $5 million EITC dollars for people in need in Buffalo and Erie County.

A national initiative

The program - called the Free Tax Preparation Network - is part of a national initiative designed to assist working families and individuals in accessing Earned Income and Child Tax Credits while receiving assistance with federal and state tax preparation. Additionally, the network reduces the need for low-income families to utilize paid tax preparers and reduces exposure to high interest refund anticipation loans. 

No previous experience necessary

All Free Tax Preparation Network volunteers receive the necessary training to provide tax services to those in need in the community. No prior experience is necessary.

Each volunteer takes part in a 15 - 20 hours training program followed by an. After attending a 15-20 hour training program and passing an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance certification test, volunteers are able to prepare federal and state income tax returns for the current tax year. Depending on their score, they may become certified in basic, intermediate or advanced tax preparation.

For those who would like to volunteer, but do not want to be in the role of the tax preparer, we are also in need of greeters and screeners. The greeters welcome guests and keep things moving along at the site and the screeners determine what level of tax preparation each person or family will need and guides them to the appropriate tax preparer.

Free Tax Preparation Network sites offer a variety of hours, providing volunteers with the opportunity to sign up for evenings, weekends or weekdays, depending on their availability. We welcome volunteers who can contribute many hours each week or even just a few hours. The sites are located throughout the City of Buffalo.

For more information, please call the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers at 716-362-0744 or visit http://www.cashbuffalo.org.

 

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Checkout Campaigns: See What's In Store

United Way has teamed up with local stores to help create more opportunities for people to give back to those in need in our community. Wegmans, Jubilee, Elmwood Market, and the University at Buffalo are participating in checkout scanning programs with 100% of proceeds supporting this year's Campaign.

Wegmans ran the first scanning program in our community in September 2010, and raised over $144,000 in just three weeks thanks to the generosity of Wegmans customers and employees.  They ran it again this year, and we are looking forward to hearing the results. Jubilee stores in Angola and Blasdell ran scanning programs in August this year and raised nearly $2,000!

 

How it works

The stores promote the program with in-store signage and customers have the opportunity to make donations to United Way at the checkout, using the scan cards provided. The store may also promote products by offering coupons to every customer who makes a donation. Incentives, such as rewarding individual cashiers who are successful in promoting the program, create excitement and enthusiasm for the campaign and help lead to greater success in raising funds to help the community.

For more information on scanning programs, please call Rema Hanash at 716-887-2614 or email rema.hanash@uwbec.org.

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