Black Empowerment Works: Class 1 Report

Moira's Messsage: Black Empowerment Works Reports 2020-2021 Impact

I’m proud of the results from the Black Empowerment Works program's first year of grantees.
February 1, 2022

CINCINNATI, Ohio (February 1, 2022) — 

Dear United Way Friends:

One of the highlights of my short time at United Way is watching the excitement around, and progress of, the Black Empowerment Works grant program launched in February 2020.

We partnered with a group of local changemakers to promote Black self-determination, social mobility and economic prosperity by resourcing and funding grassroots-generated, Black-led ideas, programs and projects.

Designed to invest in solutions that often go unfunded or underfunded, this program is one of the signature efforts under United Way’s Black-led Social Change Initiative and part of our strategy to amplify community voice, invest in community-based solutions and transform the way we invest in the community.

I’m proud of the results from the first year’s grantees:

  • 1,939 youth gained access to critical academic and social-emotional supports, leading to strong school outcomes.
  • 80 children accessed quality early childhood education in a community with limited local resources.
  • 42 adults gained employment, including creatives and those considered difficult to employ.
  • 225 people, ranging from young children to adults, gained entrepreneurship experience. 
  • 156 people accessed support to pursue higher education.
  • 3,873 people accessed basic-needs resources and education, contributing to leading healthier lives.
  • 77 people gained knowledge of key financial empowerment tools. 
  • 96 percent of funded organizations were able to grow their capacity during the grant cycle, including establishing new partnerships and securing additional funding.

And this all happened in the midst of a pandemic. The full report has even more detail, and more about the program is available on our website at

This is a community-driven program. Community members received training and worked in teams to assess applications. Thirty volunteers put in more than 600 review hours choosing the first year’s grantees. This work would not have happened without their dedication.

More is coming. We already launched a second round of grants in August. We are committed to supporting our changemakers and grantees. Those closest to the challenges know best how to overcome those challenges.


Moira Weir
United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Learn About Black Empowerment Works

Black Empowerment Works promotes Black self-determination, social mobility and economic prosperity by resourcing and funding grassroots-generated, Black-led ideas, programs and projects.

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