Metro United Way:
Transforming Our Community

January 2020 Update

At Metro United Way, we have long recognized that providing valuable resources to individuals and families to promote financial independence, educational attainment and healthy lifestyles are critical. We’ve made considerable strides in addressing the needs of thousands of individuals across these core areas, but we know that our vision of a community whose people achieve their fullest potential has not been realized by all.  We also recognize the critical role Metro United Way can play in making systemic changes to address the root causes of need in our community, in addition to meeting its immediate needs.

Over the past six months, Metro United Way embarked on an extensive fact-finding initiative to gather and analyze data so that we can evolve our investment strategy for maximum impact in the coming decade.

This effort included more than 70 individual interviews and 20 focus groups engaging more than 250 community leaders and residents across the seven counties we serve. We also conducted an analytical review of 13 recent data reports centered around our community.  While the research affirmed the investments Metro United Way has been making in early childhood education, financial independence, and equity are aligned to the greatest needs in our community, it also indicated that the status quo will not address the persistent and growing gaps that exist.

A sampling of the facts is startling:

  • There are 12,000 single parent, female heads of household with children at immediate risk of housing vulnerability (within 30 days).
  • Median household income declined steadily in Louisville from 2008-2014, and despite recent increases, median income remains 3.1% below 2008 levels, adjusting for inflation.
  • A $100 increase in median rent is associated with a 15% increase in homelessness in metropolitan areas.
  • Nearly half of children entering kindergarten are not prepared to learn.

Transitioning to Transformational Impact Investments
Over the next several months, we will be implementing a community-led, data driven investment strategy that will allow us to create lasting, measurable outcomes that eliminate inequities and empower our neighbors and children with sustainable assets and workable tools to build lives of promise and fulfillment.

After all, that’s the primary reason people trust Metro United Way as stewards of their community investments.  We’re entrusted to continue to dig deeper to uncover the root causes stalling progress toward fulfilled lives in our community, and to identify the most effective ways to correct them.

Some of the work has already begun.

  • Thanks to investments made from the Humana Foundation and JP Morgan Chase, we are seeing highly encouraging results for those engaged through our Asset Security and Advancing Cities initiatives, including about one-third of the individuals seeing increased monthly income by an average of $1,000 and a median of $975.
  • The launch of the United Community platform is creating systemic change in the way our health, education, and social sectors coordinate care and is providing data and insights like never before around the needs of those in our community, specifically around housing needs, food insecurity, and the time in which it takes to receive the necessary support.

As leaders in nonprofit excellence in our community, we want to ensure that we are setting our nonprofit partners up to maximize impact. This is just one way Metro United Way is serving as the thought-leader and strategic steward, moving the needle in a meaningful way in our seven counties. This root-cause focused investment strategy is one that we will continue to grow as more transformative strategies are identified.

We are not changing our vision or who we are; we are seeking to further improve the community so that all can achieve their full potential.

Below are some highlights of our transformational work, as well as a look at some of the research consulted during our quantitative and qualitative data gathering.

What we set out to study

  • The most pressing needs in our seven-county region today
  • The relevance and effectiveness of our work against the most pressing needs.

What we learned

  • Education, Poverty, Housing, Health, Racial Equity are most pressing issues.
  • We have powerful results in key areas, but not enough scale; a shift in investment strategy is necessary.
  • Need to shift the balance from breadth to depth of our work to maximize impact.
  • Commitment to long-term goals grounded in data is required for transformational impact and measurable outcomes.

Sample of Quantitative Findings

  • Poverty is a root cause indicator of educational/school performance.
  • MUW’s work in early childhood success is clearly having an impact, but not reaching enough children.
  • New United Community dashboard shows housing needs are the most requested and unmet area of need.
  • Median household income declined steadily in Louisville from 2008-2014, and despite recent increases, median income remains 3.1 percent below 2008 levels, adjusting for inflation.
  • White earnings in Louisville increased by 2.5% between 2006 and 2016, Black earnings decreased by 3.9% in the same period.
  • 12,000 single parent female head of household with children at immediate risk of housing vulnerability.
  • The 2019 Louisville Housing Needs Assessment indicated that Louisville’s greatest housing need is for households making less than 30% Area Median Income ($21,400), with a need of over 30,000 units.
  • Louisville is more hyper-segregated than many cities, with 50% of the Black population in Louisville living on less than 5% of the land.

Below is a glimpse of the United Community dashboard showing the most frequent service categories addressed by the referral platform.

Partnering with Agencies for Change:

  • Beginning in 2020, agencies will have the opportunity to apply for new/additional funding through a new investment process.
  • Agencies demonstrating, through data and evidence, their ability or potential to address the persistent gaps our community is experiencing in education, income/wealth, health, housing or racial equity will be most relevant in the new investment process.
  • Funds available through the new process will grow over the next three years with full implementation scheduled for 2022.


Reports reviewed include:


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