By Special to the Daily World
At United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s annual Stakeholders Meeting luncheon held on Tuesday, June 28, at the Hyatt Regency downtown, more than 400 donors, partners, staff and volunteers convened to discuss new approaches to achieve bolder community outcomes.
United Way and its supporters realize that the key to making true impact means getting to the heart of issues, with collaborative work such as Opportunity Zones, the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood, Collaborative Networks, the Transportation to Work program, and the new Metro Atlanta Workforce Funders Collaborative. These demonstrate new ways that United Way is proactively working to combat those challenges that stand in the way of a good quality of life. These important initiatives come at a time when more and more people want to be involved and connected to the issues.
“We are one interconnected voice no matter our job title, ZIP code or social status,” said Milton J. Little Jr., president of United Way. We are a network of caring individuals, leveraging our similarities, working hard to give children, families and our communities a fighting chance.”
Little also noted increasing donor and community demands to see more impact and accountability. These, coupled with the economy and shifting trends, prompted United Way’s Board and volunteers to restructure the organization’s investment model.
“Changing our outlook to meet demands will be even more critical moving ahead. We have to rethink how we invest dollars from donors, who are requiring more accountability and more impact,” Little said. Sometimes change is difficult, but if you look at the alternative — remaining stagnant and keeping the “business as usual” model — then we become short-sighted and consequently doomed to fail. We simply cannot let that happen.”
“It’s time to shorten these lines of people in our community if we are going to fulfill our community’s aspiration as a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive,” he said. “And that’s going to take all of us working together — government, faith-based, urban, suburban and rural volunteers and, of course, the agencies represented in this room.”
The Stakeholders Meeting, titled “Staying the Course: Community. Driven.” began with small-group discussions on Opportunity Zones and Collaborative Networks. Opportunity Zones are specific low-income neighborhoods throughout metro Atlanta in which United Way and community partners are collaborating to coordinate services and support for families and individuals. Collaborative Networks are strategic partnerships formed around six strategic community goals: Babies are born healthy; Children enter school ready to learn and graduate prepared for careers; Young people avoid risky behaviors; Families are self-sufficient; People have access to primary health care, and Homeless people are housed within one year.
Stakeholder guests included new Board Chair Craig Ramsey, regional managing director at Accenture; Randy Waters of WXIA; Harold Douglas, Jr. of the Atlanta Falcons; and United Way Board member and State Attorney General Sam Olens.