Credit building workshop at United Way, Wednesday September 20, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Posted in Driving The Dream, Income / Financial Stability, Information Resources, News, Poverty |

Kendra Scott at Saddle Creek’s “Kendra Gives Back” party for United Way, Tuesday, September 12

Kendra Scott sale for United Way

The Kendra Scott store at Saddle Creek (7515 Poplar Avenue in Germantown, TN) is holding a special sale party with 20% of proceeds benefitting United Way of the Mid-South on Tuesday, September 12 from 6:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m. The fine jewelry and accessories store is conducting the sale as part of its Kendra Gives Back program. Please stop in and enjoy the sale party!

Posted in Events, Fund Raising, News |

Driving The Dream Town Hall: Disrupting Poverty Together

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Corporate donors, agency partners and community leaders convened at the Driving The Dream Town Hall, discussing ways to tackle Memphis’ biggest challenge: poverty on Tuesday, August 15th at the Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis.

“We are here to come as a community, in honor of the legacy of Dr. King, and to have an honest discussion about resolving the issue of poverty in our city,” says Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson.

Driving The Dream is a new, groundbreaking system of care bringing Memphis and the Mid-South resources, organizations and agencies together that uses strategy, data, and teamwork across multiple organizations to help more people gain greater financial security.

Memphis holds the title as one of the poorest major metro areas in the nation with a 23 percent poverty rate. While the challenge looks impossible, keynote speaker Elisabeth Babcock reassured the 500 attendees that the feat is achievable.

“We have to stop telling people what to do and start asking them what is it that they want to do and who they want to be,” said Babcock.

The President and CEO of Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) in Boston, Babcock and her team have a successful track record implementing innovative research and strategies that contribute to people overcoming poverty. EMPath outcomes include revolutionary increases in education and training participation (45%) and household savings (63%). Babcock is a proponent of helping participants decide what they want to do rather than instructing people on how to do better.

“Poverty is a multi-headed dragon, each head representing something a person living in poverty must kill in order to overcome their current situation,” said Babcock. “Rather than striking each head, we must kill the dragon by striking at the heart.”

Over 60 private and public organizations have implemented EMPath strategies, witnessing measurable improvement among their clients who live in poverty. Babcock says the key to getting clients toward progress is making steps reachable and simple. “Complexity is the enemy of poverty.”

The Town Hall concluded with a panel of local community leaders who shared their insights on the challenges of disrupting poverty from their respective fields. Panelists included Kenya Bradshaw, VP of TNTP; Cecelia Johnson-Powell, Director of Program Performance; Eric Robertson, Executive Director of Community LIFT; David Waters, Opinion and Engagement Editor of The Commercial Appeal. Each revealed how poverty affects each of their work and the people they serve.

“We have to start having people at the table who are affected by program decisions,” said Bradshaw, asserting people living in poverty are usually left out of the conversations. She quoted Frederick Douglass, “It is easier to build children than fix broken men.”

Robertson agreed with Bradshaw and added that efforts also tend to neglect those “broken men.” “Many of these children are going home to parents and grandparents who are also suffering because of poverty. We have to also make efforts inside the home.”

The panelists addressed issues ranging from education, housing, bias, economic impact and hope. Waters said he believes alleviating poverty is possible, especially in a city like Memphis where hope is everywhere. “We are one of the most charitable cities in this country. I believe Memphis is a community that cares about its most vulnerable and we can make a difference.”

The night began with a Donor’s reception, highlighting United Way of the Mid-South’s 2016-2017 top corporate and individual donors including FedEx, International Paper, First Tennessee and MLGW. Attendees also received a sneak peek at United Way of the Mid-South’s ongoing Faces of Poverty photomentary. Espousing photography and documentary, Faces of Poverty showcases people who have and are advancing out of poverty with the help of United Way Driving The Dream agencies.
United Way and Driving The Dream initiative has already earned support from The Kresge Foundation, a generous gift from Kathy and JW Gibson, and The Assisi Foundation. “With your support, we will have Driving The Dream fully operating with our growing number of partner agencies by the end of this year,” says Dr. Robinson.

Posted in Uncategorized |

United Way President & CEO Rev. Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. provides guest editorial for The Commercial Appeal

United Way in the newsUnited Way President & CEO Rev. Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. provided a guest editorial for The Commercial Appeal newspaper highlighting his insights into the fight against poverty and the importance of our Driving The Dream initiative.

The editorial was featured as United Way held a Driving The Dream Town Hall event on August 15. You can read the editorial on The Commercial Appeal’s website here.

Posted in Driving The Dream, News, Poverty |

United Way of the Mid-South Catalyst Fund accepting letters of interest through September 15

United Way of the Mid-South Catalyst FundAttention nonprofit agency executives & community collaborators:

The United Way of the Mid-South Catalyst Fund supports collaborative community solutions to tough Mid-South issues. Letters of Interest in Catalyst funding will be accepted from community collaborations seeking funding through September 15, 2017.

Click here for Catalyst Fund Guidelines for funding with instructions for the Letter of Interest (PDF document will download).

Posted in Catalyst Fund |

United Way Agency Spotlight on Porter-Leath: A Great Heart for Head Start

Charlize was born with congenital heart disease and required a feeding tube. After leaving the hospital, her mother found it was extremely difficult to find childcare that could meet Charlize’s complex medical needs.

This was devastating news, as Charlize’s mother was the family’s sole provider. Without childcare, she would have to leave her job. How would they enjoy a high quality of life?

Charlize’s mother called Le Bonheur Early Intervention & Development (a United Way partner agency) for information. She was connected to the Porter-Leath Early Head Start program. The Le Bonheur staff provided medical training to Porter-Leath’s teachers, so they could address Charlize’s medical needs.

Charlize’s mother was able to return to work and care for her daughter. Porter-Leath and Le Bonheur continued to provide care for Charlize’s special needs, even after her successful heart transplant!

For over 160 years, Porter-Leath has served over 12,000 children and 3,000 families.

Your support of United Way plays a big part in helping Porter-Leath empower children and families to achieve a healthy, optimal, and independent lifestyle.

Posted in Education, Health, Partner Agencies, Personal Stories |

EVENTS: Driving The Dream Town Hall, Tuesday, August 15

Elisabeth D. Babcock

Purchase tickets to United Way’s Driving The Dream Town Hall event
As Memphis prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., United Way of the Mid-South CEO and President Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson and Terri Freeman, President of the National Civil Rights Museum, step forward to hold a conversation about solving Memphis’ poverty challenges and United Way’s new initiative, Driving The Dream, with nationally-recognized writer and speaker Elizabeth Babcock, President & CEO of EMPath – Economic Mobility Pathways.

The Driving The Dream Town Hall at The Peabody on Tuesday, August 15 begins with a Donor’s Reception at 4:30 p.m. and the Town Hall will start at 5:30 p.m.

In addition to Elizabeth Babcock’s presentation, a panel of local community leaders and experts including Kenya Bradshaw (The New Teacher Project), David Waters (The Commercial Appeal), and Eric Robertson (Community Lift, Greater Memphis Neighborhoods) will be led by Dr. Robinson in a discussion about the impact poverty has on Memphis and possible solutions toward advancement.

Driving The Dream is a new, groundbreaking initiative bringing groups with a history of alleviating symptoms of poverty together to strengthen cooperative efforts. The initiative creates a network of care using shared strategy, data, and teamwork across multiple organizations, helping more people with a “no wrong door” approach to connect with a series of services resulting in greater financial security.

The Donor’s Reception at 4:30 celebrates the generous contributions of United Way donors throughout the 2016-2017 campaign year. United Way will reveal the first phase of an ongoing “photomentary” project, Faces of Poverty to show the faces of people who have and are advancing out of poverty juxtaposed to their past story. Reception guests will have the opportunity to meet special donors, network and learn more about Driving The Dream and United Way upcoming initiatives and engagement events.

Please contact United Way with any questions. We hope to see you there!

Posted in Driving The Dream, Events, Poverty |

Public Notice: Emergency Food & Shelter Grants Funds Available (Crittenden County, AR & Shelby County, TN)

Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Funds Available: Shelby County

Shelby County will receive $450,141 in Emergency Food and Shelter Program Funds earmarked for 501 (c)(3) agencies to supplement emergency food and shelter services in Shelby County. EFSP funds are Federal funds awarded through the Dept. of Homeland Security. Non-profit agencies providing emergency food and shelter services can obtain access to the Application by contacting Janet Haas at United Way of the Mid-South at (901) 433-4333.  The deadline for submission is Friday, July 21 at 5:00 pm.

Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Funds Available: Crittenden County

Crittenden County will receive $20,421 in Emergency Food and Shelter Program Funds earmarked for 501 (c)(3) agencies to supplement emergency food and shelter services in Crittenden County EFSP funds are Federal funds awarded through the Dept. of Homeland Security. Non-profit agencies providing emergency food and shelter services can obtain access to the Application by contacting Janet Haas at United Way of the Mid-South at (901) 433-4333.  The deadline for submission is Friday, July 21 at 5:00 pm.


Note: These items were published in the Legal Notices section in local newspapers on Friday, July 14 (Crittenden) and Saturday, July 15, (Shelby) 2017.

Posted in Funding Decisions, Grants |

EVENTS: United Way and FOX13 present Family Focus School Supply Drive Wednesday, July 19

United Way of the Mid-South and FOX13’s Family Focus School Supply Drive will collect donations of school supplies to help students in need at Shelby County Schools on Wednesday, July 19 at Poplar Plaza shopping center at Poplar and Highland in Memphis, TN.

We’re looking for: 3 ring binders, hand sanitizer, calculators, ink pens (red, black and blue), colored pencils, legal pads, composition notebooks, loose leaf paper, copy paper, pencils, crayons, pencil bags, earbuds, primary handwriting tablets, folders with pockets, spiral notebooks, glue sticks, and tissue/Kleenex.

Donations can also be delivered to donation drums and boxes at FOX13 Family Focus partner locations.



Posted in Education, Events, News |

“There’s Hope.” (Tonya’s story)

“Is this a real house, mommy? Does someone live here?” 

Tonya was sleeping on the floor of her aunt’s house with her 3 and 1-year old daughters when she was introduced to a Hope House representative. 

“It wasn’t an ideal situation for me, with two small children.”

While working as a peer advocate at the Shelby County Health Department, she told her story about living with HIV. A supervisor and friend introduced her to Hope House, a United Way partner agency nonprofit. One day, with her daughters by her side, she stopped by the small, sky blue cottage on Idlewild Avenue in Memphis.

Hope House’s mission is “to improve the quality of life for HIV-affected individuals and their families by providing high-quality early childhood education and social services.”

It did not register with Tonya at the time, but she would soon find the family and support she needed to live her dreams within the corners of Hope House.

Tonya was afraid as soon as a member of the team opened the door. Not knowing whether she would be immediately judged for her living situation and health status, she planned to maintain a cordial demeanor, observing the attitudes and characteristics of the Hope House staff.

“We are intentional about having a home-space because we want people to feel at home here,” said Lenox Warren, Director of Development.

For the first time, Tonya felt welcomed for who she was. She had endured stigmatization from friends and family. A co-worker became emotional when she revealed she had HIV. Yet Hope House gave Tonya the support and strength she needed to endure and educate people away from their biases, and even how to combat her own.

“When I first found out I was positive, I was afraid,” says Tonya. “I was afraid I would die in front of my children while they were with me. I was afraid I would be alone, and I even struggle with this fear today.”

Tonya remembers feeling like “scum” for not being able to provide healthy and quality housing for her children and sometimes not being able to afford groceries. She admits she had to take routes she didn’t want to for money to ensure her children could eat. She was depressed and unhappy with no direction or guidance to point her where she needed to go.

“But there’s hope. There’s a silver lining around every cloud.”

Hope House introduced Tonya to a system of care that was invested in her success. A year after she was admitted as a client, Hope House assisted Tonya with finding a home for her and her children. It was the first time in a long time that Tonya had a place of her own and her children had their own room. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Hope House can assist clients with finding quality and affordable housing for their families.

“I was so excited. I stopped by garage and estate sales to find furniture. It’s all mine. I was so grateful for our first night. There were no lumps or bumps. I slept like a baby.”

Tonya is now a junior at the University of Memphis, studying computer engineering with a minor in social work. Her dream is to interconnect all HIV databases to support clients and reduce the number of times they have to relive and retell their story. Her daughters are straight-A scholars. Her oldest was recently inducted into the National Junior Beta Club and her youngest won her school-wide spelling bee.

Posted in Health, Income / Financial Stability, Personal Stories, Poverty |