United Way of Anchorage is beginning to craft a strategic plan for the next three to five years.
You’re invited to join in the creation.
It is in our relationships, partnerships, and collaborations that we leverage the knowledge and resources necessary to create a common road map and vision of what success looks like. In this work, we strive to create a community where access to good health, education, and financial stability is the norm for all of us, where equity is a bedrock value, where we recognize our differences and build upon the strength of our common goals and love for our city and those who call it home.
Anchorage has changed from the 70s and 80s when I grew up in Sand Lake and is continuing to change today. We’ve become one of the most diverse cities in the United States, bringing together the histories and strengths of many different cultures. Our mainstay energy industries continue to be in a period of change, loss, and innovation. The hospitality and tourism industries are just beginning to dust off their chairs and tables. We’re coming out of a pandemic that none of us have experienced before, and it’s not yet certain when COVID-19 will be permanently in our rear-view mirror.
We’re looking at all these challenges and opportunities with a blend of fresh-blood energy and veteran wisdom. That’s vital because we must know who we are and where we have been before we can plan for that new normal together.
When United Way is at its best we convene and collaborate, we bring a community together and create a common voice and north star that we together work toward.
Fifteen years ago, our amazing volunteers conducted community assessments, taking the city’s temperature in an effort to see what their neighbors believed were our challenges and chances in building the “city of our dreams.” As a result of that work, we led or joined initiatives that have improved lives for young people, increased graduation rates, and provided emergency shelter and rapid rehousing for homeless families.
To keep growing, we need to build a new plan and vision for our future as we did 15 years ago. We did a lot of listening and learning then, and we’re going to do that again. We want to involve a wide swath of the community, and we intend to be deliberate in including everyone in these discussions. What does the “city of our dreams” look like? Do we all share the same dream?
Let’s find out. That’s the only way we can get crystal clear on what that dream city looks like. Otherwise, we’re just sharing platitudes and risk talking past one another.
We want to hear from the business community, both the downtown core businesses and others throughout the city. What are your concerns? How can United Way in its work help you? And do you expect or would like to see more from us.
Alan Budahl, Executive Director of Lutheran Social Services in Anchorage, made a striking point last summer in a video interview he did with United Way. His hard-working team – and many of the 7,000 families they helped with rent and utility assistance – were near the breaking point.
He said he was optimistic.
He saw a future for the solidarity by which Anchorage pulled through the pandemic, that we’d see the virtue in continuing some of this good work even when the virus became more memory than threat.
Such optimism includes the notion that we won’t forget the lessons of inequity that the pandemic drove home, that we will take what we’ve learned to heart as we plan for the future and build our new normal in Anchorage.
So, as I wrote at the beginning, you’re invited to join us. We can’t provide a “save-the-date” calendar yet, but we’re working on plans for community conversations. And we don’t mean you’re invited to help us implement a strategic plan that we design and then present to the community. We mean we want you in from the beginning.