United Way of Erie County Announces $3.2 Million Total Investment to Crush Poverty

Tuesday Jul 31st, 2018

RELEASE July 31, 2018 — For far too long, the barriers to learning for children living in poverty have been ignored or addressed with a “Band-Aid” or isolated impact approach. This is unacceptable. We as a community cannot be reactive anymore.

That is why United Way of Erie County representatives announced a total investment of $3.2 million dollars in 2018-2019 funding, including new Community Impact grants during a press conference today. In addition to existing United Way investments throughout Erie County, new areas of grant funding were announced.

All United Way Community Impact grants and investments are strategically aligned with milestones focused on student success from birth and family stability - United Way’s research based two- generation approach to breaking the cycle of poverty.

These investments have been thoughtfully reviewed and are strategically aligned with United Way of Erie County’s Goals and Roadmap for Success:

  • Emergency Needs
  • Born and Stay Healthy
  • Enter Kindergarten Ready
  • Read at Third Grade Level
  • Succeed in Middle School
  • Graduate High School
  • Be Career Ready
  • Secure and Maintain Employment

A complete list of grants is available at Where the Money goes.

In December 2017, United Way's Board of Directors approved a restructured impact strategy as part of United Way’s 2015-2018 strategic plan. This strategy, using the collective impact model, is focused on targeting the root causes of poverty in Erie County so that we can break the cycle and realize a more vibrant community for children and their families.

The “War on Poverty” is decades old, with distressing results. Continuing to fund and support the approaches used for the past 50+ years will continue to reap the same results. Our children and their families deserve better. Our community deserves better. It’s past time to tackle the complex issue of breaking down the root causes of poverty versus providing temporary relief that only serves to mask its continued growth.

“The investments we make must be as strategic as possible, because United Way funding will not effect change alone. Our role is much more than just a funder now. United Way is the backbone organization leading the collective impact efforts of multiple resources to reverse the high level of poverty in Erie County. When United Way funding is leveraged and aligned appropriately with other community initiatives and funding streams, we maximize impact,” said United Way of Erie County president Bill Jackson.

United Way’s role as the “backbone” in collective impact is to: guide vision and strategy; support aligned activities; establish shared measurement practices; build public will; advance policy; and mobilize funding. It provides the support and coordination that transform collaboration into collective impact.

Not only does United Way have its finger on the pulse of the changing barriers facing our most vulnerable populations, we have the staff, resources, and connections to make collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations, and individual citizens to achieve significant and lasting impact.

While there are direct investments to United Way’s community schools with today’s announcement, it’s important to recognize the community schools model leverages ALL United Way investments because students and their families are being connected to a full range of community resources like United Way’s Erie FREE Taxes, 2-1-1, and funded Emergency Needs services. This is how United Way’s investments work together to effect change at scale.

By aligning United Way grant processes and funding investments with relevant community resources and partnerships through a collective impact strategy, getting all of us “fish” to swim together, we can break the cycle of poverty and transform the Erie community into a place where everyone can work, live, and thrive.

This list is available online at