Dear United Way friends,
COVID-19 is a long-term problem that requires our long-term commitment. We will help our Greater Cincinnati community respond, recover and revitalize over the next two years. But there is another “pandemic” we have been fighting for years, and this requires more from us, a greater, longer-term response. That pandemic is related to racial equality and justice.
Equity and justice has been part of the mission of UWGC, as well as United Way Worldwide, for some time. We have worked hard in this area, and a lot of you have joined us in this fight. But as the events of the past few weeks have shown, we have far to go. I assure you racial equity will be integrated more fully into every layer of our mission and our work.
Because we have pledged focus to COVID-19, and now racial equity, we received some inquiries on whether we are abandoning our traditional commitments to addressing quality education, basic needs, financial stability, and health. No, we have not. We cannot address equity or COVID-19 without addressing these areas, and vice versa. These historical community problems are interwoven with these two pandemics. Count on us to remain fully committed to our hallmark impact areas.
For example, many of the people who lost jobs because of COVID-19 will struggle meeting their basic needs, and it will take some time for them to become financially stable. Children will experience academic problems because of the turbulence of remote/virtual learning. The physical and, in particular, mental health of our community is at stake from pandemic isolation.
It is the same with inequity. Eradicating systemic racism is imperative to providing all people the chance to achieve quality education, financial stability and great health. Too many people start out with historical and modern roadblocks keeping them from flourishing.
United Way is different in that it brings together resources to tackle ingrained, systemic problems – no quick bandages, but long-term commitment that produces lasting change.
Here is what I know:
- From readying children for kindergarten (Success by 6), to ensuring high school graduation, to post-secondary job training for adults, United Way of Greater Cincinnati is dedicated to quality education experiences that set children and adults on the path to success.
- Across Greater Cincinnati, more than 175,000 children grow up in poverty. Too many families struggle obtaining basic essentials, such as safe and affordable housing, healthy food and transportation. To these families, every day is a financial crisis. When families struggle with the basics, they are unable to set goals for the future. United Way of Greater Cincinnati connects (United Way 211) our region’s families with resources necessary to weather their financial storm and provide basics for their families.
- More than 60% of children growing up in poverty in the Greater Cincinnati region have at least one working parent. For working families living in poverty, sporadic jobs and work hours lead to income volatility. At the same time, families in poverty often have limited access to financial programs to help build work skills and increase wages. This creates a cycle of barely getting by, as opposed to building toward a better financial future. United Way of Greater Cincinnati supports solutions (Project Lift, Earned Income Tax Credit, Place Matters) helping our region’s families access well-paying jobs, critical work supports (such as child care and health insurance) and financial services to successfully manage financial needs and build economic security.
- In a recent study, only 48% of adults in Greater Cincinnati reported feeling in excellent or very good health. When a family member has health issues, it causes stress and financial strain, making it difficult for families to focus on long-term goals. Financial strain, in turn, leads to more mental and physical health problems. The problems perpetuate each other. United Way of Greater Cincinnati supports solutions (Health Care Access Now, Community Health Agenda) that help our region’s families access physical and mental health services.
Whether it is equity, COVID-19 or our ongoing goals of providing quality education, basic needs, financial stability and strong physical and mental health, United Way of Greater Cincinnati will continue to wrap its arms around these systemic problems and dismantle them through innovation, collaboration and comprehensive strategies. We resolve that the path forward during these unsettling times is United. It is the only way. The United Way.