- For more than 100 years, Metro United Way (MUW) has been in our community improving lives and creating change.
- While there has been some incredible work and thousands of lives impacted over the years, change hasn’t happened fast enough.
- That’s why MUW made a commitment to accelerate its impact by examining the Greater Louisville region’s most persistent challenges and support those most affected by them to accelerate change.
- This year, MUW is completing a 3-year transition from a historical community chest model collecting donations through workplace campaigns and redistributing them to area nonprofits, to a newly implemented impact model where MUW strategically and proactively seeks to change the social determinants of education, economic mobility and health in our region.
- This is being done through bringing together powerful solutions to address root causes of systemic issues and ensure positive, sustainable change; increasing MUW’s individual major donor base, foundation support, and public grants; diversifying fundraising channels; and also bolstering long-term sustainability by growing the endowment.
- The result is closing of the education and wealth gaps that have persisted and creating a stronger and more equitable community that competes with peer cities. Louisville currently ranks 5th in the country in concentrated poverty and ranks near the bottom of 17 peer cities when it comes to education, racial equity, health outcomes, and median earnings. More data: metrounitedway.org/impact
What is the mission and vision of Metro United Way?
Mission: To improve lives and our community by engaging people to give, advocate, and volunteer.
Vision: A community whose people achieve their full potential through education, financial independence and health.
What does Metro United Way do?
Because systemic community challenges are most often rooted in multiple causes, Metro United Way harnesses the power of donors, volunteers, thought leaders, experts, other nonprofits and government at all levels to ensure positive, sustainable change. We’re the change agent that fuels our spirit of unity by building lasting, transformative opportunities for all.
We unite and empower communities in our seven-county region by advancing equity and sharing opportunities for all.
What is the Investment Redesign?
MUW has moved away from a “historical funding model” to one of transformational impact to accelerate needed change in our community. We called this 3-year plan our “investment redesign.” It entailed an exhaustive process to identify our communities’ most pressing needs so that we can help solve them. During this extensive qualitative and quantitative analyses, we listened to voices of multiple stakeholders across our seven-county region and poured into the results of numerous studies that have been conducted to assess how our community fares across many measures of success.
From this, the message was clear – a great majority of our community’s residents have not experienced the same levels of educational and wealth opportunities and achievement, dramatically impeding their ability to thrive. In short, this process moves us from investing in nonprofits to investing in issues – especially around closing the education and wealth gaps that exist and were exacerbated by the pandemic.
As we continue to shift to focusing on our community’s most pressing needs and the root causes of them, we recognize there is still immediate need in our seven-county region. We also implemented a health and basic needs strategy to address these urgent needs, in addition to strategies around educational success and wealth attainment.
What does this new impact model mean for historical funding or partnerships?
We used to make investments in nonprofits rooted in a historic model that didn’t drive transformational outcomes. Today, we are a change organization and have a strategic plan to address key drivers of inequities and invest where the need is the greatest to address systemic community challenges and ensure positive, sustainable change. While we have phased out our historical funding to nonprofit partners, we have opened up several investment opportunities to any nonprofit in our seven-county region.
We are working to create a culture of trust-based philanthropy that addresses inherent power imbalances, dismantles systemic racism and accelerates strategic investments. This new model addresses systemic, root cause issues. By prioritizing ideas, impact and functional capabilities over administrative reporting capacities, Metro United Way effectively advances equity, targets systemic racism, addresses power imbalances, grows investment and builds mutually accountable relationships within the community, relying on community outcomes as a whole instead of individual organizational or programmatic results.
WHAT IS METRO UNITED WAY’S COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION (DEI)?
Our vision and mission reflect our fundamental belief that all people belong and deserve fairness, justice, and inclusivity. Our strength comes from our diversity and we celebrate the visible and invisible qualities that make each person unique, including race, gender, age, sexuality, ability, religion, national origin, gender identity, and other identities. We commit to aligning our culture and business practices to be a beacon of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all people.
Within our community, we know that a great majority of Black and Brown residents have not experienced the same levels of educational and wealth opportunities and achievement, dramatically impeding their ability to thrive – which affects us all. We all win when every child succeeds in school, when under-resourced neighborhoods turn around, when families have good health and when workers have solid jobs.
We passionately believe in the humanity and potential of all and have a fundamental belief that all people belong. We strive to unite the community behind that belief to address systemic community challenges and ensure positive, sustainable change. After all, the measure of a community’s success doesn’t lie in those who already have opportunities to thrive but in those still fighting for them.
Some of the specific diversity, equity, and inclusion work that MUW leads:
- Racial Wealth Gap Simulations – engagement event that takes people and organizations on a historical journey to wealth building in America, pausing on 13 federal policies that most powerfully accelerated or impeded progress based on race
- Beyond Buzzwords – speaker series on diversity, equity and inclusion
- Black L.O.V.E. (Live. Own. Vote. Excel) – investments/partnerships with Black-led organizations
- Public Policy agenda – systemic change and lasting impact require a pairing of powerful programming and transformative policy making
- United Neighborhoods – a resident-driven, place-based approach focused on specific neighborhoods within our 7-county region
- Ensuring our staff, board, volunteer structure, governance, investment design and partners, events, purchasing, trainings – all reflect DEI
What is MUW’s work around public policy?
MUW recognizes that systemic change and lasting impact require a pairing of powerful programming and transformative policy making. Elected officials and administrative leaders are critical partners in promoting equity and opportunity for all people in the areas of education, economic mobility, and health, and as such, Metro United Way actively engages in public policy efforts. The range of issues affecting our priorities is vast. To be effective, Metro United Way has a targeted public policy agenda that has relevancy across our seven-county and two-state region.