Valley of the Sun United Way is the only organization in the Valley that unites as many vital partners and passionate community members in an effort to help Maricopa County's most vulnerable residents.
Over the last 95 years, partnerships have been at the heart of United Way’s approach to meeting its mission. Collaboration with community is the work of our organization, with some relationships enduring almost a century. We have been, and continue to be, the connector to solutions that change lives for thousands of individuals, children and families.
Throughout the pandemic, we pivoted our approach, but not our plans. With guidance and input from our Board of Directors, donors and partners, we quickly mobilized resources and relationships to ensure our health and human services and education nonprofit and school partners have resources to meet the urgent needs of Maricopa County’s most vulnerable families, children and individuals. We did this 100% remotely, and without pause, ensuring that we could connect via our technology platforms and with our partners to ensure that the community continued to receive immediate support. Today, we continue this work with Health and Human Service nonprofits, schools and corporate partners to address the most pressing needs in the areas of education, hunger, homelessness/housing, income and health.
– We scheduled virtual listening sessions with nonprofit thought leaders to help guide our COVID-19 response. From the early listening sessions, it was clear that many of our partners were experiencing increasing demands for services related to: housing, meals, access to childcare, lost wages, the health and safety of individuals experiencing homelessness, lack of technology and internet so children can continue to learn.
– We ramped up our Gifts-In-Kind program to connect goods from our corporate partners to organizations with urgent needs. Donations we secured included everything from basic supplies, such as diapers, cleaning products and PPE to unexpected items like sofa-sleepers and electronic devices to close to gaps with the digital divide.
– While pressing needs continued to rise, many of our nonprofit partners lost revenue due to canceled spring events and other fundraising activities and are now experiencing immense financial pressures to meet their missions. In collaboration with our nonprofit partners, Board of Directors, and donors, United Way created the United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund in collaboration with the Arizona Community Foundation and its statewide fund, to ensure effective and efficient fundraising and grant distribution in Maricopa County. View the United in Good News Vlogs we posted highlighting some of our partners success stories.
– Additionally, we created an easy-to-use giving portal that businesses can use to run employee fundraising campaigns to support COVID-19 response. We shifted all our in-person presentations, meetings and community tours to the virtual space, and consulted many partner organizations looking to make similar changes.
– We are working with partners to bridge the digital divide so that every student in the Valley has equal access to a quality education whether that’s at home or in a physical classroom. Our role is centered on aligning and accelerating the work of our community partners by building public awareness, sharing data, and helping scale community-based solutions.
United Way belongs to our community and we will continue to seek input from partners on current and emerging issues, as we transition from the response phase into the recovery phase of the pandemic. The organization is currently moving toward the rollout of its new Five-Year Impact Agenda, to be announced in the spring. We will continue to put partnerships at the center of our efforts and intend to be the United Way our community has asked us to be.
It’s going to take every one of us, pulling together, to help those around us now, and likely long into the future. United Way’s promise is that we’ll continue seeking community input to focus where we’re needed most to provide relief, support the Valley’s recovery and to rebuild lives.