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United Way Invests $1M in Equity: Black Empowerment Works

$1 Million is being awarded to support innovative, Black-led Ideas in Greater Cincinnati.
August 26, 2021

Cincinnati, OhioUnited Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Black Empowerment Works program is investing nearly $1 million in 45 Black-led programs and projects that promote social mobility, economic prosperity and systems change.

The programs and projects provide a range of services to improve health, education, employment and economic well-being. The grantees include a mix of community coalitions, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and individuals.

This year’s grant awards range from $10,000 to $30,275. Among the ideas supported: technology camps promoting hands-on exposure to STEM, prenatal and postpartum care, homeownership and entrepreneurship supports. The full list of recipients is listed below and can be found, along with more information about the program, at uwgc.org/bew.

“We are not only investing in great work, we are investing in grassroots organizations and leaders who are directly connected to the issues,” said Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “Traditionally, in Greater Cincinnati and nationally, there has been philanthropic underinvestment in Black-led ideas and organizations. We are changing that in our backyard and we are grateful to partner with organizations and entrepreneurs carrying out this important work and generating significant impact throughout Greater Cincinnati.”

This is the second year United Way partnered with the Black community to issue Black Empowerment Works grants. In 2020, United Way — powered by Champions of Change, a group of volunteers aiming to build power and positive outcomes in the Black community — launched Black Empowerment Works, a grant and support program investing in community-based, Black-led ideas.

United Way believes investing in more Black-led ideas, programs and projects brings:

  • Greater diversity of solutions and thought leadership

  • A better understanding of the unique strengths, opportunities and challenges within communities

  • Collaboration on strategies that work to reduce racial disparities in outcomes

Greater Cincinnati has a wealth of Black social changemakers, further reinforced by the 168 applications received. Included in the 45 grantees are 35 organizations selected by a panel of community reviewers, and 10 groups who received second-year funding to continue growing the capacity of their work.

Jena Bradley, senior manager, Community Impact at United Way, said last year’s work spurred excitement and investment, with donors and philanthropic groups reaching out to support Black Empowerment Works grants.

Procter & Gamble’s Feminine Care provided matching grants to six of last year’s grantees, totaling $175,000. These groups were selected because their work was consistent with P&G’s Always/Tampax brand mission to champion young women’s confidence and encourage them to be who they want to be and live life without limits. In addition to the funds provided by P&G, four other groups received continued support from a limited pool made available.

“We received so many great ideas; there were dozens more we wished we could have supported,” Bradley said. “I would like to give a special thanks to our team of community reviewers. These 38 individuals spent over 30 hours of their time selecting organizations they believed exemplified the mission of Black Empowerment Works.”

Support goes beyond the grant. Grantees will connect with other beneficial resources to support their ideas, including potential access to volunteers and mentors, trainings and opportunities to share their knowledge with others.


About United Way
For more than 100 years, United Way of Greater Cincinnati has developed, supported and strengthened social systems that improve lives in Greater Cincinnati communities. UWGC provides relief for families in crisis, supports families as they establish stronger foundations, and revitalizes systems of support for long-term economic resiliency. United Way is uniquely positioned to bring together and harness the collective power of social service agencies, governments, businesses, donors and more to tackle ingrained, persistent, community-wide problems in a coordinated, comprehensive way that maximizes donor dollars. The generosity of our community, combined with our more than 100 years of experience bringing people together, enables us to support families in a 10-county area across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Additional information about our community impact is available at UWGC.org #LiveUnited

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