Excerpted from Michele Brown’s speech given at the 2018 United Way of Anchorage Campaign Kickoff event.
Thank you all for being here and for being the front-line change-agents for a better Anchorage.
On behalf of the staff and Board of United Way of Anchorage, we are honored to be your partner as we, together, build a strong, resilient, and innovative community.
We do this by keeping our finger on the pulse of the community, connecting the aspirations of our investors, volunteers, and community champions, nimbly adapt to change, and seek innovation.
United Way has evolved in our approach in order to provide the most value to the community. Years ago, we introduced federated fundraising and payroll deduction – huge innovations in their time. Today we focus on collective impact – the structured, disciplined multi-sector collaborations necessary to solve our community’s toughest problems.
Today our community is facing unique challenges.
Anchorage’s demographics are changing – we are becoming more diverse with a rich variety of cultures and views, but also see a growing need to level the playing field for opportunity.
We are less financially secure. For many in our community, devastating economic hardship is a paycheck away.
Education is a must for lifting people out of poverty. The ability to make a living wage without at least a high school education is next to impossible.
We are growing more distressed about the impact homelessness and substance abuse is having on everyone’s safety and health.
Our community needs are becoming too complex for any agency or nonprofit to solve on its own.
So, what do we do about all this? We promote and champion collaboration and collective impact as the best way:
• To reach 90% Graduation by 2020. This is our community’s collaboration to make sure kids start school ready, attend regularly, and stay on track to graduate.
• To answer the call for help. Through Alaska 2-1-1, our community’s collaboration that has answered nearly a quarter of a million calls, quickly and efficiently connecting Alaskans seeking help with services that were needed. Food, shelter, healthcare are the most sought.
• To reduce homelessness. Anchored Home is our community’s collaboration to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time. Together we have significantly reduced the number of families experiencing long-term homelessness.
We are now piloting an innovative financial model known as Pay for Success that seeks to re-orient our community resources from crisis to long-term solutions for those that are hardest to house.
All this work takes intense, ongoing partnerships with our community’s amazing non-profit organizations that every day breathe life into those community goals.
This work requires partnerships with our faith, business, and government sectors to align our efforts to reach those community goals.
And this work needs partnerships with you and your colleagues to lift your voices to support those community goals, flex your muscle to volunteer, and share your resources to make this all happen.
All this work takes resources. You fuel this work through your workplace campaign.
The pledge forms empower you and your colleagues to support all of this as moves you.
You can support 90% Graduation by 2020; making homelessness brief, rare and one-time; Alaska 2-1-1; United Ways across Alaska; and nonprofit agencies near and dear to you.
John McCain, a longtime United Way donor whose service we honor now, said “nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.”
To live better, we must Live United.