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Message to the Community


United Way of Erie County is on a mission to crush poverty in our community. To best address the root causes of poverty and create positive change that lasts, United Way has been evolving from an isolated impact strategy to collective impact. We envision a collaborative community where students succeed, and families thrive.

A required next step in United Way’s evolution is a refocused commitment to a funding strategy for our community that allows United Way to connect people in need, respond in times of disasters and provide dollars for much-needed, long-term efforts to break the cycle of poverty for future generations.

This is a funding strategy that leverages collective impact to focus on prevention. The result will be reducing the number of people who need assistance long-term. In addition, our focus will provide organizational resources based on collective impact that increases efficiency, effectiveness, and impact throughout Erie County.

As the transformation to collective impact has taken place, there was one legacy United Way grant process left to address...Emergency Needs.

Driving the changes to this category was the recognition that our local United Way should focus on systems-level changes and invest heavily in prevention if we are serious about collective impact and making long-term, sustainable progress toward our mission of crushing poverty.

With the limited resources United Way has available, we need to focus on solving issues, not managing them. We are on a mission to crush poverty, not support poverty. As another United Way leader put it, “Central to our beliefs, we know it is time to measure our results not by the number of people we’ve helped, but by the number of people who no longer need help.”

This follows the 2017 strategic shift to align not just funding, but partnerships, advocacy, technology, volunteers – all the resources available to us – with this collective impact strategy. This resulted in an expansion of the Community School Model throughout Erie County and the establishment of Raising Readers, our local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Below, you will find details of the changes being made to the legacy Emergency Needs Grant process.

  • What is the new strategy for funding in the area of Emergency Needs?
  • What will United Way fund in this area?
  • How much funding will United Way dedicate to this strategy?
  • When will the changes take place?
  • Which grants are ending?