United Way of North Central Florida: 60 years of helping the community shine

60 Years of Impact

In 2017, United Way of North Central Florida celebrated its 60th year in the community. When we opened our doors in 1957, we were first operating under the name The United Community Fund of Gainesville. In the 1960s we changed our name to United Fund of Alachua County and later, in the 1970s to United Way of Alachua County. Today, we are United Way of North Central Florida and by 2006, we added Bradford, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Unions counties to our coverage area.

During our first fundraising campaign in 1957, we raised just over $84,000 – $10,000 over the goal – and each year, we continue to grow. To date, United Way of North Central Florida has raised nearly $100 million for the community.

Though the years have brought several name changes and different faces, United Way of North Central Florida’s mission to improve the lives of community members has remained the same. United Way fights for those community members who need a voice and for those who need a hand. We understand that change doesn’t happen alone and that partnerships are crucial when helping our neighbors live their best lives. We fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community.

 

United Way Express: All Aboard for Change

To celebrate our 60th anniversary, we launched the United Way Express community bus tours. In a special partnership with Candies Coachworks, attendees boarded a bus to visit three local, funded community programs. United Way Express tours brought community members to agencies like Peaceful Paths, Boys & Girls Club, Catholic Charities, Child Advocacy Center and more to get a firsthand look at various United Way-funded programs in action.

All programs featured on the tours are funded through the Community Investment Fund, a pot of money that stays 100 percent local. In 2004, the Community Investment Fund was established when United Way adopted the Community Impact Model and began funding programs, not just agencies. This shift also introduced Result-Based Accountability, a method for tracking meaningful results that went beyond reporting only on the number of people served and through a comprehensive reporting software tool, allowed funded programs to include qualitative data demonstrating how people’s lives are being improved. Currently in the second year of a three-year funding cycle that began in 2016, there are 34 funded programs through 25 different Community Impact Partner agencies who are reporting on the outcomes of their efforts in improving health, education and financial stability.

 

Volunteering Your Time

In the coming months, United Way will be recruiting volunteers for two of their direct service programs, ReadingPals and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. ReadingPals is a community of readers who spend time with kids. Volunteers are trained to tutor students struggling in reading and work to transform a child’s experience with books. ReadingPals volunteers work with students for one hour per week throughout the school year.

VITA is an IRS-funded program that provides free tax preparation to low- to moderate-income level community members. All VITA volunteers are trained and can volunteer as much or as little as their schedule permits. Last year nearly 2,000 individuals and families had their taxes filed through United Way’s VITA program.

To volunteer with ReadingPals, please contact Rahkiah Brown at rbrown@unitedwayncfl.org. To volunteer with VITA, please contact Marilyn Taylor at mtaylor@unitedwayncfl.org. Trainings begin in January for both volunteering opportunities.

 

What’s Next

Over the next year, United Way of North Central Florida will be sharing updates in the Business Report. Check back quarterly for community resources, impact stories, upcoming events and more. To learn more about United Way, please visit www.unitedwayncfl.org.

We have one life. To live better, we must #LiveUNITED.

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