Strength in CommunityAnnual Report 2019
We’ve done some soul searching this past year that has led to some big
changes. Everything from renaming and rebranding the organization to
the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, to refining our areas of focus,
to having difficult and clarifying conversations about our responsibility to
our community and the impact that we want to have on its members and
What came to light is that it’s time for us to be more focused, more
intentional about the type of organization that we want to be, and how
we carry out our mission of connecting the community and enabling
individuals and families to achieve their potential. For us, it boils down
to one thing: poverty. Poverty is the nucleus of many of the other
challenges our community members face. With the poverty rate in
Charlottesville at nearly 25% — a number that hasn’t moved in 10 years
despite strong regional economic growth — one in four of our neighbors
is struggling to meet basic needs. They can’t afford a reliable vehicle to
get to work or continuing education to secure a higher-wage occupation.
Many cannot afford high-quality early childhood care and education,
and as a result, their children fall behind. Once children begin to miss
these benchmarks in early childhood, they rarely, if ever, catch up, thus
perpetuating the cycle of generational poverty that disproportionately
plagues minority communities.
The big question we ask ourselves every day at 806 E. High Street is “what does any of this mean, operationally?”
More pointedly, how does any of this data move from the realm of the theoretical to the actual hard work of creating
sustainable positive change? In a community that is among the hardest in the country to advance financially, what
are we doing today, tomorrow, and over the course of the coming years to ensure that we are giving individuals and
families the best opportunities to live financially stable lives?
Concentrating on school readiness, financial stability, and connected community, we are aggressively pursuing
opportunities in grantmaking, partnerships, and direct service offerings to start to make a dent in our unacceptably high
poverty rate. By addressing the symptoms and attempting to understand and confront underlying and systemic causes
of poverty, we find ourselves better-equipped than ever to face what many may consider an insurmountable task.
But we aren’t ones to shy away from a challenge.
We know we can’t do this work alone. It is imperative to build broad and diverse coalitions across community members
and partner organizations in order to affect demonstrable change in this area we work, play, and in which we raise our
children. Our leadership in organizing and providing backbone support to the Early Education Task Force and Financial
Stability Task Force provide good templates for expanding our work with key partners. We also understand and feel
deeply the primacy of this work, and that given our reputation and experience, we have a responsibility to help be a
driving force in the creation of communities where every person can thrive, regardless of race or ZIP code.
We approach this work humbly, not with the complex of saviors, but as those respectful of the unique and significant
opportunity to help lift those around us.
We can’t do this work without your help, and we hope that you’re inspired to join us