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United Way of Central Carolinas to focus more on Charlotte’s economic mobility

Teams of volunteers work at building Tiny Libraries to support children's literacy – part of United Way’s work to improve graduation rates.
Teams of volunteers work at building Tiny Libraries to support children's literacy – part of United Way’s work to improve graduation rates. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

United Way of Central Carolinas announced Tuesday the agency will be implementing a new strategy moving forward with a greater focus on economic mobility in the region.

The organization will invest $16.41 million into 78 local community charities, with a majority of the donations going to education programs, various charities and crisis assistance. That’s about flat funding from last year’s allocations.

The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte will receive $1.6 million, making it the largest recipient.

Other organizations receiving large amounts include the YMCA, Hope Haven, the American Red Cross and Communities In Schools.

“This year’s investment will help thousands of individuals and families in neighborhoods across our region,” Laura Clark, United Way of Central Carolinas’ chief impact officer, said in a statement.

United Way’s new community strategy follows a 2014 study from Harvard University and UC-Berkeley that ranked Charlotte last out of 50 cities in economic mobility.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force released a report in March on steps needed to combat this problem. United Way of Central Carolinas, along with the Foundation for the Carolinas, will provide initial funding for a new public-private task force that will take further action.

Sean Garrett, United Way of Central Carolinas’ executive director, said the new focus is a result of the findings of the Opportunity Task Force, as well as over 200 community conversations in the past two years. He said United Way’s strategy going forward will likely involve new partners specifically in the neighborhood realm.

“It will take simultaneous focus on neighborhood transformation, as well as changes in the system, to create an environment of opportunity for all,” he said in a statement.

United Way of Central Carolinas receives donations from more than 55,000 donors in the community.

This year United Way expects to use between $1.6 million and $1.7 million in funding from its reserve for its donations. But that is about $300,000 less than its projected budget of $2 million in reserve funding.

Caroline Metzler: 704-231-5316, @crmetzler

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