Table of Contents
Newsletter - Spring/Summer 2011
The past year has been one of extraordinary achievement for United Way. Last summer, we engaged staff, volunteers, and community leaders in developing an ambitious five-year strategic plan, which we published in November. In January, we proudly announced $4 million in funding for 78 community programs, maintaining funding levels for the third straight year despite continued declines in Campaign revenues. In April we celebrated a watershed moment - the success of our 2010 Campaign, which raised $13,303,633. As we publish this Newsletter, we celebrate yet another extraordinary achievement: our investment of $150,000 in funding for three additional high-quality programs.
United Way is a community organization, and these achievements are achievements for our community. None of them would be possible without you - whether you are a donor, a volunteer, a partner, or a service provider. Our mission - to bring people, organizations and resources together to improve community well being - depends on you. Thank you for your support.
On April 1, we proudly announced that we raised $13,303,633 in pledges for our 2010 Campaign, an increase of $27,118 over our 2009 Campaign result of $13,276,515. This result marks our first year-over-year increase since the 2001 Campaign. We could not have achieved this result without the more than 53,000 individual donors and 1,200 companies and foundations who gave so generously and helped us achieve success for the community this year.
The success of this year's Campaign represents significant progress against one of the goals contained in the organization's Strategic Plan, released in late 2010 - to reverse a 10-year declining revenue trend. Between 2001 and 2009, Campaign losses totaled nearly 33%, with yearly losses ranging from 1% to 13%. Our 2010 Campaign result is particularly noteworthy given the region's continued sluggish economy. Our community has struggled economically for many years; the generosity we have seen this year is overwhelming, especially in these challenging times.
The increase in pledges can be attributed to a number of factors. Internally, our staff participated in extensive sales training and took nearly 4,500 meetings with supporters throughout Erie County over the past nine months. Externally, we were pleased to see a 2% increase in corporate and foundation gifts, as well as a marked increase in dollars raised by companies outside of corporate and employee pledges. Much of this increase resulted from last September's check-out promotion at all Western New York Wegmans locations, which raised over $140,000 for the Erie County Campaign alone. Pledges from 72 organizations that ran a Campaign or gave a corporate gift for the first time this year totaled $119,000. These increases helped offset a significant loss in the State Employees Federated Appeal, which we administer. This loss was primarily due to early retirements among State workers and the results of the ongoing State budget crisis.
Proceeds from the 2010 Campaign will be invested in dozens of health and human service programs that address the organization's priorities in Education, Income, and Health and Wellness; support will also be provided to community-wide services at the American Red Cross - Greater Buffalo Chapter and Western New York 2-1-1. We believe this year's Campaign result is a vote of confidence from donors in the importance of the organization's work and in its stewardship of their charitable contributions.
We are so grateful to all of the individuals and companies who stepped up and gave so generously of their resources so that we can work together to advance quality of life for this community. Your support truly makes a difference. Here are just a few examples of companies that went above and beyond in their efforts to support this year's Campaign:
- New Era Cap increased their campaign by 31% over last year.
- West Valley Environmental Services had a 22% campaign increase, and provided a $2,500 sponsorship for the 2010 United Way Night at the Ballpark.
- League for the Handicapped increased their campaign by 78%.
- Frito Lay ran a product promotion in partnership with Wegmans that raised $11,000.
- US Airways ran a successful hot dog roast for airline and airport employees and increased their giving by 46%
- Steuben Foods increased their total giving by 45% and provided a first time dollar-for-dollar match on employee giving.
- Praxair increased employee participation by more than 80%.
- Key Bank increased their total campaign by 47%, with a 24% increase in employee participation.
- VWR Education/Science Kit & Boreal Laboratories increased special event dollars raised by 1,439% over the last 2 years.
- The Buffalo Bills contributed over $75,000 in employee and grants contributions this year - including a $5,000 grant to support the second annual LIVE UNITED Volunteer Spotlight.
- ITT Standard increased employee giving by 289%.
- Roswell Park Cancer Institute increased their number of donors by 61%, and increased their total amount raised by 42%.
- Town Automotive Group increased total contributions by 449%, and gave a $1,000.00 corporate gift for the first time.
- Delaware North Companies contributed $292,022 to the 2010 campaign, adding to their extraordinary total of $4,366,743 raised since 1994.
On May 23, we announced that we will provide $150,000 in funding to three programs at three local agencies. This funding is in addition to the $4 million in program investments announced earlier this year. The success of our 2010 Campaign, which raised over $13.3 million - the first increase in Campaign revenues since the 2001 Campaign - made this incremental funding possible.
The announcement was held at the Belle Center, which provides educational, recreational and social services to children and youth up to age 24. The Center will receive $54,000 under United Way's Education platform to support programming designed to ensure that youth are prepared for higher education, trade education, or work upon graduation from high school. Nestor Hernandez, executive director of the Belle Center, said, "Our system of service provides what children need to be successful in life; to go from our Day Care to graduating college or assuming a prosperous career. We are delighted that United Way is joining us by investing in our children." To view video footage of Jack Norton, program development specialist for the Belle Center, speaking about the program and the young people the Belle Center serves, click here.
The International Institute of Buffalo's Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Victim Services Program was awarded $46,000 under United Way's Health and Wellness platform. The program provides immigrant victims of trafficking and intimate partner violence with comprehensive and appropriate services that take into account these individuals' cultural and linguistic challenges. "We are deeply grateful to the United Way for recognizing our work as important, and to the many donors who made this funding possible," said Eva Hassett, International Institute executive director. Visit our Youtube page and watch Eva tell the story of Josue, which also appears in this edition of our newsletter, by clicking here.
The final program, which will receive $50,000 under the Education platform, was Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection (HWSC), a nationally-recognized youth development program at South Park High School proven to dramatically improve the graduation rates for youth at-risk of dropping out. The program connects South Park students to a full-time school-based Youth Advocate, employment training, college preparation support and tutoring services, while helping youth earn their high school diplomas. "We are incredibly grateful for the financial support from United Way and its generous donors," said Roderick Green, executive director of HWSC. "We are well on our way toward helping South Park students stay engaged in school and develop the skills and confidence they need to graduate ready for college and the workplace." Watch Rod talk about HWSC and how it helps change young people's lives - click here.
These programs were highly ranked in the organization's most recent application process, but did not receive funding simply because funds were not available at the time. Although we were proud to be able to maintain our total funding levels when we announced our investments in January, we continued to work toward a successful Campaign in the hope that we would be able to increase our support for high-quality programs like these. We are grateful to each of the 53,000 individuals and 1,200 companies, foundations, and other organizations who supported our Campaign this year, and hope to increase our community funding even more in the coming years.
LIVE UNITED Program Partner: Boys & Girls Club of East Aurora Project Learn
High quality afterschool and out of school time programs are proven to improve student achievement and participation in school. Afterschool programming and out of school time enrollment is also linked to significant gains in standardized test scores, improved work habits, reduced delinquency activities (especially between the critical hours of 3‐7pm), and reductions in behavioral problems among disadvantaged students (New York State Afterschool Network, 2009). Programs like Project Learn at the Boys & Girls Club of East Aurora give children important social supports as well as educational and recreational activities that help them do better in school.
Jack lives down the street from the Club. His father works very hard and tries his best, but his mother is not an active participant in Jack's life. Even though he was too young to be a member of the Club, he began coming into the Club as soon as he was old enough to walk down the street. Ever since, the Club has been a vital resource for him. Every day, Jack goes to the computer lab and he receives help with his homework. Even on the days Jack is less than enthusiastic, the Club staff encourage him and give him the help he needs to complete his school work. After homework, Jack participates in lots of fun activities that reinforce what he has learned in school - helping him to improve his performance in school. Thanks to his involvement with the Club and his participation in Project Learn, Jack is making passing grades in school and has shown improvement from one marking period to the next.
LIVE UNITED Program Partner: Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC) Free Tax Preparation Network
Research shows that people who access work support benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are more likely to have and keep jobs, and less likely to need public assistance. Unfortunately, nearly 20% of eligible individuals do not access the EITC. There are many reasons why people may not access this important credit - not believing they are eligible, low literacy levels that make it difficult to read and/or complete necessary forms, difficulty finding the correct forms, or the stigma attached to receiving financial supports.
Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH), a United Way initiative, and the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC) Free Tax Preparation Network have spent the 2011 tax season helping thousands of Western New Yorkers with earnings under $50,000 prepare and file their tax returns for free. The tax season officially kicked off on Saturday, January 29 at the fifth annual CASH IN Saturday at the BFNC Hope Center. Nearly 20 community partners came together to offer tax preparation as well as information about banking, education, credit repair, and other important financial services that are available year-round.
The Free Tax Preparation Network did an extraordinary job this year, with 86 volunteers preparing and filing 7,718 tax returns for hardworking individuals and families. Altogether, these families accessed $4.7 million in Earned Income Tax Credits, and $12.2 million in overall tax refunds - dollars that have a direct positive impact on individuals and families, and ultimately our local economy.
LIVE UNITED Program Partner: International Institute of Buffalo Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Victim Services
Josue* was a small-scale farmer in Guatemala, struggling to support his family. When a man in his town told him he could arrange for Josue to come to the U.S. to work legally picking fruit, earn steady pay and have a place to live, he was grateful for the opportunity. The recruiter helped him get a guest worker visa, sponsored by an employer in the U.S., and lent Josue money to cover his travel costs.
When Josue first arrived on the farm in rural New York, he was placed in a small apartment with several other men and his new employer took his passport. He was required to pick and package fruit for 12-14 hours a day, and received very little pay - if he was paid at all. When he and the other workers asked about the failure to pay, they were told they owed the employer money for their visa applications, travel to the U.S., and rent on the apartments they lived in.
Josue was told he owed $10,000, and if he did not pay back the money by working on his farm, the employer would have him deported and he would still have to pay back the money to his recruiter in Guatemala. This man knew where Josue's wife and children lived. Josue feared for their safety.
After working under these conditions for several months, local law enforcement arrested Josue's employer based on information provided by a local farmworker rights outreach organization. Josue and the other men were connected to the International Institute of Buffalo for assistance after escaping their trafficking situation.
Through the International Institute of Buffalo's Trafficking Victim Services Program, Josue received emergency medical services to help him recover from months of malnutrition and exhausting working conditions. He was provided with emergency shelter, food and clothing. Josue was granted a temporary status by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while he helped with the investigation against his trafficker. This status allowed him to work legally in the U.S. to support himself.
Over the next few months, Josue worked, took English classes at the International Institute, and met with an immigration attorney to file for more permanent immigration status. Josue was ultimately granted a Trafficking Visa and continues to work with his attorney to bring his family to the U.S., where they will be safer from reprisal by the recruiter.
*name changed to protect identity
On May 10, we welcomed a new class of Board members, who will provide leadership and guidance for our organization over the next three years. We are grateful for their willingness to serve our community and look forward to working with them in the years to come. To see our full Board list, click here.
Gretchen Geitter is Vice President of Community Relations for the Buffalo Bills, where she oversees community programs and events, charitable giving, donations, and team involvement in the community. She is active in a number of community organizations including Leadership Buffalo, the American Heart Association, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Salvation Army, and the Children's Guild, and serves on the Boards of the National Federation for Just Communities and the Roswell Park Community Alliance.
Richard T. Jurasek, Ph.D. is President of Medaille College. He has served in leadership assignments at Earlham College (IN), Augustana College (IN) and Antioch College (OH). Dr. Jurasek earned both his Ph.D. and master's degrees in German from The Ohio State University and his bachelor's degree in German from Ohio University. He has co-authored three books on German that are used in colleges and universities across the country. He and his wife, Dr. Barbara Jurasek, formerly a tenured professor at Earlham College, have one child.
Eugene T. Partridge is Executive Vice President of LPCiminelli. Gene is a board member of both the New York State General Building Contractors Association and the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers. A graduate of Erie Community College, he was named a Distinguished Alumni by the Erie Community College Foundation in 2007. An advocate of professional collaboration, he received the 2007 Joseph Siracuse Award by the Buffalo/Western New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Lou Santiago is the owner of Lou Santiago Insurance. Originally from Utica, he remained in Buffalo after graduating from Daemen College. His other current community activities include participation in the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo's Cultures of Giving Legacy Initiative, and serving as an advisor to Daemen College's Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement. Lou is currently in his final semester as a student at UB in the Executive MBA program.
Keith Stolzenburg is Buffalo Office Audit Partner for PriceWaterhouse Coopers LLP. His community activities include serving as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Martin House Restoration Corporation and Trustee of the Board of Directors and Audit Committee Chairman of the UB Foundation, and Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of Shea's Performing Arts Center. He and his wife have two children and live in East Amherst.
On April 13, we held a breakfast at Templeton Landing to commemorate National Volunteer Week and say thank you to the volunteers who give so generously of their time and talent to make our community a better place. More than 100 Campaign Coordinators, Community Impact volunteers, agency speakers, and Volunteer Services Committee members attended.
Michael Weiner welcomed the assembled volunteers and noted that their efforts, which are individually significant, are even more impressive when taken as a whole. "Whether you are one of our 30 Board members, or one of the 800 Campaign Coordinators whose efforts contributed to the success of our campaign, you make a difference," he said. "Whether you gave one of the more than 200 presentations that inspired others to make their contribution, or reviewed one of the nearly 150 applications for program funding this year, you are a testament to the power of action for the greater good in transforming quality of life in this community."
Volunteers are hard at work every day in our community, and often go unrecognized for their tireless commitment. United Way is proud to facilitate the efforts of thousands of volunteers each year. Here are just a few examples of the scope of those efforts:
Since the program began in December of 2009, nearly 750 participants from 38 companies have donated more than 2,500 hours of service through the Business Meets Community initiative
509 high school students, 79 community agencies and 157 volunteer projects have registered on UGive.org, a unique web-based volunteer matching resource for young people, since the site went live in July of 2010;
1,048 hours of volunteer service donated by 262 volunteers from 63 families during the 2010 Family Volunteer Day; and
Nearly 100,000 volunteers have participated in the annual United Way Day of Caring over the past 18 years, donating almost 400,000 hours of service during the one-day event (scheduled this year for August 17).
Bob Zak, CEO of Merchants Insurance and United Way board chair, offered special thanks to the organization's Campaign Chair, Dennis Elsenbeck, regional executive for National Grid, and to Tim Doolittle, executive director of the Erie County Workforce Development Consortium, who served as vice chair. Under their leadership, the 2010 United Way Campaign raised $13,303,633, topping last year's result for the first time since 2001. "Your extraordinary passion and commitment helped inspire the whole community to step up and make a difference," Zak said. "We exceeded last year's amount raised, for the first time in a decade. Some might call that a data point; I call it the beginning of a trend."
Offering his own heartfelt remarks, Dennis Elsenbeck turned the thanks back to the assembled volunteers and announced that he will serve as chair for a second year. "When I have been out speaking in the community, so many people have thanked me for the good work of the United Way. They aren't really thanking me - they are thanking you, because you raised your hand to help as a volunteer," he said. "Because this work is important to you, and to our community, and to say thank you to all of you, I am raising my hand to serve again this year."
Every volunteer who attended the breakfast received a thank-you card and a United Way Volunteer pin. We hope they will wear them proudly as a sign of their commitment to our community, and we thank them - and all our volunteers - for their extraordinary efforts!
In his State of the State address in January, Governor Cuomo targeted the juvenile justice system for reform. He outlined a number of specific steps, including closing some underutilized detention centers. Michael Weiner authored an "Another Voice" column in The Buffalo News praising these initial steps toward reform but emphasizing the need for community-based services that can be delivered more economically - and more importantly, can help keep youth in their homes and communities as opposed to in the juvenile justice system. To read the article, click here.
New York State Budget
The first few months of 2011 saw a great deal of advocacy activity as the New York State budget took shape. In February we invited members of the Western New York Delegation to a breakfast hosted by the Agency Executives Association (AEA) to provide an opportunity for nonprofit agencies to express their concerns about proposed budget cuts to education, health and human services. More than 70 agencies attended, and the WNY delegation was well represented. Assemblyman Mark Schroeder attended in person, and the offices of Assembly members Dennis Gabryszak, Sam Hoyt, Robin Schimminger and Kevin Smardz and Senators Mark Grisanti and Pat Gallivan sent representatives.
As the final days of the budget process played out, Michael Weiner sent letters to Governor Cuomo expressing the need to preserve essential preventive services, which are not only less expensive to provide in the short term but also reap significant savings in reduced need for more intensive interventions in juvenile justice and public health. Michael also co-authored an "Another Voice" column in The Buffalo News with AEA president Bill Hawkes, executive director of Neighborhood Legal Services, reinforcing the need for wise cuts coupled with preserving preventive services. To read the column, click here.
We continue to work on our Community Indicators Project with our School Readiness Committee, a group of representatives from local foundations, coalition-based organizations, providers, and government. The primary objective of this project is to develop centralized, comprehensive and timely data resources that can be utilized to help shape future policy, service, and funding decisions that ensure children are ready to succeed in school by the time they reach kindergarten. 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. We will continue to provide updates on the progress of this important project that has the potential to significantly enhance school readiness in our community's children.
Our 2010 - 2015 Strategic Plan is now complete. The strategic planning process incorporated mechanisms for gathering feedback from a wide range of corporate leaders, nonprofit agencies, funders, partners, United Way Board members, and staff at all levels of the organization.
The three strategic goals that will guide our work over the next five (5) years are the following:
1. Make significant positive change in key community indicators of Education, Income, and Health and Wellness, and therefore in quality of life, leadership, and collaboration in community investments;
2. Reverse the 10-year declining revenue trend and lead the community toward a 2015 Campaign goal of $14.7 million; and
3. Achieve operational excellence and strengthen infrastructure to support Community Impact, Resource Development, and Organizational Development.
We have also finalized a Business Plan that contains strategies and deliverables to ensure that we reach our overarching goals.
We would like to express our appreciation to all those who provided input or information, conducted analysis and research, and helped make decisions to ensure sufficient organizational and community buy-in to this strategic plan. To download a copy of the full text of our Strategic Plan, click here.
The Not For Profit Resource Center continues to assist agencies in these challenging times by providing opportunities for our nonprofit community to share ideas and resources, and take advantage of specialized training to ensure they can provide the highest quality services in the most efficient manner.
The 8th group of agencies to participate in a free Six Sigma Quality Improvement training began work on their projects on April 26. This training has helped 41 community agencies enhance their effectiveness and efficiency in operations - whether by increasing the number of clients they are able to serve, reducing the length of time required to deliver services, or enabling other operating and service delivery enhancements.
Once again this fall, the Project Management Institute Buffalo Chapter will offer Project Management for Nonprofits, a free 24-hour training course designed to help nonprofits utilize limited resources better, focus efforts for greater impact, and improve organizational communication. In 2010, the Chapter trained and provided mentors from 18 nonprofits. An introductory session will be held at United Way on June 22 for nonprofits interested in participating in this valuable training.
For more information about Six Sigma, Project Management for Nonprofits or the NFPRC, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 887-2757.
We have some exciting events coming up this summer. Be sure to mark your calendars and join us!
July 16 - UWBEC's second annual Family Volunteer Day. Contact Suzette O'Brien at 887-2744 or email@example.com,