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Join Stuff the Backpack 2024 to Support our Local Students

July 3rd, 2024

  Join United Way of Central Ohio, NBC4 and the Columbus Crew for this year’s Stuff the Backpack on Aug. 6 at Field! You’ll enjoy fun, food and games while helping us stuff 10,000 backpacks with the supplies our local students need to start school feeling confident, prepared and ready to learn. Now in its seventh year, Stuff the Backpack has provided over 200,000 students across central Ohio with basic school supplies. Last year, our community showed up in force! We had over 500 volunteers join us, and they packed 1,500 backpacks in just 45 minutes. This year, in partnership with Besa, we are prepared to welcome 700 volunteers to pack 10,000 backpacks during three shifts throughout the day. REGISTER TODAY There will be loads of fun and raffle prizes, and food will be provided by our generous partner Condado Tacos. We’re also grateful for our supporting sponsors, Big Lots and Grange, for contributing a portion of the supplies and backpacks that make Stuff the Backpack a success. To meet our ambitious goal of getting 10,000 backpacks into the hands of students and help them succeed, we still need your help! A gift of just $10, less than the…

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ALICE Report Reveals Number of Households Struggling to Meet Basic Needs Rising in Franklin County

May 22nd, 2024

Though wages for the lowest-paid jobs have risen across the country at the fastest rate in four decades, the number of households struggling to get by in Ohio and Franklin County is rising, according to a new update from United Way of Central Ohio and its research partner, United For ALICE. The report, “ALICE in the Crosscurrents: An Update on Financial Hardship in Ohio,” reveals that about 1.9 million of the 4.9 million households in Ohio, or 39%, were living below the ALICE Threshold in 2022, a figure that encompasses both those in poverty and those classified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). These hardworking individuals—such as child care providers, home health aides, cashiers—struggle to make ends meet in our current economy, but earn above the Federal Poverty Level, which is based on food prices established in the 1970s and indexed to inflation, meaning it doesn’t capture the reality of essential household expenses like health care, food and child care. That sobering reality underscores the financial struggles experienced by a significant portion of households in the region despite being employed. For instance, the basic costs for a family of four with an infant and a preschooler to live and…

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2023 Annual Report: A Century United. A Future Ignited.

May 21st, 2024

You can see the impact your gifts have made by downloading and reading the 2023 Annual Report here. The accomplishments of United Way of Central Ohio over the past 100 years were made possible thanks to individual and corporate donors and volunteers, along with many community partnerships. We are grateful to the thousands of supporters who have united with us since our first campaign in 1923. Together as one community, we’ve strengthened families and supported youth so they can become the dreamers and doers of tomorrow. In 2023, you helped us raise and invest more than $3.6 million to strengthen families by assisting with basic needs and over $4.02 million to help students achieve success. For example, your gifts were instrumental in providing nutritious food to more than 423,850 neighbors with food insecurity, and resources and opportunities to over 12,300 students. Thank you for joining us in building a stronger, more equitable central Ohio for everyone.  

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United Way Welcomes Eight New Board Members and Two Board Fellows

May 20th, 2024

United Way of Central Ohio is pleased to have added the following new members to its board of trustees: Seleshi Asfaw, MD, MPH., President and CEO of Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services (ETSS) Dawn Barkley, Community Volunteer and Advocate *Dorian Bass, Director of Financial Analytics for Big Lots Dr. Angela M. Chapman, Superintendent of Columbus City Schools – Ohio John Coneglio, President of the Columbus Education Association Doreen DeLaney Crawley, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer for Grange Insurance Maria Haberman, Vice President – OH External Affairs for American Electric Power Melissa Marino, Director of Legal Affairs for Mary Rutan Hospital *Morgan Williams Glasser, Program Manager for Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE) Matthew Zarnosky, Chief Operating Officer & Vice President, Engineering & Honda Affairs for Union Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. (URE) Both Marino and Zarosky are representing United Way of Union County for one- and two-year terms, respectively. Glasser is serving as Project Diversity Pride Leadership (PDPL) board fellow for a one-year term, while Bass is serving as PDPL board fellow for a two-year term. The remaining six new board of trustee members are serving their first full three-year terms. We welcome our newest board members and look forward to…

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United Way Worldwide President and CEO Visits the Community Impact Center during 2024 Siemer Summit

May 29th, 2024

Angela Williams, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide, brought her three decades of leadership experience to Columbus on May 6. As a speaker at the Siemer Institute’s 2024 summit, co-sponsored by United Way of Central Ohio, Williams promised to inspire action and ignite new ideas among nonprofit leaders and community organizers. In addition to her itinerary, Williams visited the Community Impact Center on Monday, May 6. The center, established through a master lease agreement between Nationwide and United Way of Central Ohio, symbolizes a pioneering effort to address local community needs by bringing together various nonprofit partners. Among these partners are organizations like I Know I Can, Future Ready Five, Per Scholas and the YMCA of Central Ohio, all dedicated to championing family stability—a core focus of the Siemer Institute’s mission. Williams also met with a group of Columbus corporate CEOs during her visit. Since its establishment in 2011, the Siemer Institute has forged partnerships across the nation, impacting over 130,000 families and benefiting more than 281,000 children. By focusing on fostering stability in housing, income and education, the institute aims to cultivate thriving children, strengthen families and build interconnected communities. The keynote speaker for the 2024 Siemer Summit…

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United Way Staff and Volunteers Fan Out Across Community to Visit Nonprofits

March 25th, 2024

United Way of Central Ohio is pleased to announce the 2024-2025 program investment process is underway, with full proposals submitted by 86 nonprofits for 113 programs. Full proposals under consideration are for programs aligned with Success by Third Grade. These are strategies focused on strengthening families and ensuring every child has the opportunities and resources necessary to be on a pathway to success by the time they leave third grade. The program investment grant cycle begins July 1, 2024, and ends June 30, 2025. Before final funding decisions are made, however, 43 United Way staff members and many loyal community volunteers are busy conducting 87 site visits across central Ohio to hear from nonprofits and get a firsthand look at their programs in action. Volunteers include United Way supporters from Hexion, Nationwide, PNC and other organizations. Funding recommendations will go to the United Way board of trustees on April 25 for approval. A total of 166 people reviewed and scored the Letters of Intent in late January and early February. This is the largest number of participants United Way has had for the process, and it included 27 staff members and over 135 community volunteers. LOI reviewers were evenly split…

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Redgraves Make Transformational Gift to Endowment and Success by Third Grade

March 26th, 2024

United Way of Central Ohio is excited to announce a generous donation of $500,000 from longtime donors and volunteers Lynne and Martyn Redgrave. Their generous gift, which will be split between Success by Third Grade and United Way’s endowment, underscores their unwavering commitment to supporting education and their dedication to building a stronger, more equitable central Ohio in perpetuity. The Redgraves’ donation goes toward United Way’s Centennial Campaign, in honor of the organization’s 100th anniversary in 2023, and brings the campaign to over $7.48 million, or 57% of the $13 million goal. The Centennial Campaign supports both Success by Third Grade and United Way’s endowment. “Having witnessed the profound impact of education on individual lives, we are honored to invest in a future where every child in central Ohio has the opportunity to thrive,” shared the Redgraves. “As longtime supporters of United Way of Central Ohio, we firmly believe in the transformative power of communitywide collective impact solutions. Together, we are building a legacy of learning, resilience and hope for generations to come.” Tocqueville members of United Way of Central Ohio since 2004 and nationally in other communities since 1990, the couple has gone beyond their inspiring financial contributions to…

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Success by Third Grade supports Whitehall Schools Through Literacy Initiative

March 13th, 2024

It wasn’t exactly your typical Friday at four Whitehall City Schools (WCS) on March 1. In one Etna Road Elementary classroom, Frankie Hejduk, a former Columbus Crew player and current ambassador, and the Columbus Crew Cat could be heard leading a raucous, loud chant about reading, while students in a Kae Avenue Elementary classroom listened intently to the Mayor of Whitehall, Michael Bivens, read aloud from a favorite book. United Way of Central Ohio donors and volunteers, along with community leaders and Columbus Crew ambassadors, united to share their love of reading with students and celebrate the culmination of a six-week literacy initiative titled “Exploring the World Through Literacy.” Designed to increase family, student and community engagement, the initiative was created through a partnership between Success by Third Grade and Whitehall City Schools. According to Success by Third Grade’s Whitehall network director, Safira Robinson, she and Tracey Colson, director of school improvement and family engagement at WCS, were charged by WCS superintendent Dr. Sharee Wells to bring to life a district-wide literacy initiative. The two women quickly formed a committee, and the rest was history. The literacy initiative succeeded in making reading fun, exciting and educational for students and their…

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United Way, The Big Bus and COTA Mobilize the Power Of Community to Expand Tutoring Services

February 23rd, 2024

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is donating a retired COTA bus to The Big Bus, a local nonprofit supporting under-resourced immigrant and refugee students and families. The Big Bus initially planned to raise funds for a second bus but found a significant opportunity for expansion through a collaboration with United Way of Central Ohio.  As the backbone organization of Success by Third Grade, a community-wide movement to address nonacademic barriers to learning, United Way is uniquely positioned to bring community partners together to solve issues. This partnership resulted in a donation from COTA that will allow The Big Bus to expand its services to support more students and families.  “The donation of a retired COTA bus to The Big Bus is an example of how United Way of Central Ohio and Success by Third Grade are uniquely positioned to mobilize corporate and community partners to creatively solve for and meet the needs of our students in our partner school districts,” said Cheryl Wyatt, VP, Success by Third Grade.  Tracy Davidson of Westerville, Ohio, founded The Big Bus in 2022 after encountering New American families at Abbey Lane apartments during a school board re-election campaign. Witnessing their struggles, especially in…

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Claim Your Refunds: Register for Free Tax Time 2024 Assistance from United Way

February 20th, 2024

Tax season is upon us, and we’re excited to share details about our annual United Way of Central Ohio Tax Time program. This year, we are poised to assist over 12,000 individuals—a remarkable milestone of significant importance for our community. Navigating tax preparation can often feel daunting and costly, especially for those with limited resources. That’s why we’re delighted to remind you that our FREE service is here to provide invaluable assistance to low- to moderate-income individuals, those with limited English proficiency, and taxpayers with disabilities. With over 400,000 people in Franklin County facing challenges to meet basic needs, tax credits serve as a lifeline, bridging the gap between earnings and survival. Often constituting nearly half of a household’s annual income, these credits represent the largest paycheck of the year for many. Our Tax Time certified preparers are dedicated to providing this invaluable service to households earning $64,000 or less in 2023. We offer assistance from our tax preparers both in-person and virtually to ensure accessibility for all. For those who prefer to prepare and file their taxes on their own, we have a free option for eligible individuals at To learn more about all three options and to…

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