" "
Need help? Dial 2-1-1 to contact a United Way call center specialist or click here to find resources.



There’s a parable about two towns along the same river. The town downstream begins to notice their once clean water is becoming polluted with trash and waste. After first attempting to clean the trash out of the river, the town downstream realizes they must visit the town upstream to address the source of the problem. Here, they discovered the citizens in the town upstream saw the river as the most efficient solution to keeping their town clean, never realizing that somewhere down the river, people are suffering because of it.


This is an example of systemic issues creating big problems in the long run. It is by addressing these challenges to make a positive, lasting impact that United Way is improving the quality of life in Northeast Florida.


Program Information


  • As a team or an individual, submit a project idea for positive social change in Northeast Florida.
  • Seed grants up to $5,000 are available for the winning ideas.
  • Applicants whose ideas benefit the following groups will be given priority:
    • A.L.I.C.E represents those who work hard and are above the poverty line, but due to high costs and factors often beyond their control, must live paycheck to paycheck. For many, a small emergency can quickly become a major financial crisis. When this happens, families, employers, and our economy suffer. Read more about A.L.I.C.E.
    • Families and individuals living in under-served communities.




  • All applicants must be 18-24 years old
  • Be a resident in Northeast Florida for at least one year after winning an Upstream grant
  • Project ideas must be complete within one year of receiving Upstream grant


The Upstream Experience


  • Selected applicants will be challenged, mentored and inspired by a network of experienced leaders and coaches who will help develop the idea and create a plan for real-world implementation
  • Upstream will be a challenge. You’ll run into bumps along the way, and you’ll uncover unexpected obstacles to making social change happen. But you’ll also build relationships with some of the smartest and most driven leaders in our community. You’ll make friends with your competition and become besties with your coaches. Ultimately, you’ll get one of the most unique experiences available to young adults in Northeast Florida.

2016 - 2017 Upstream Winners

$10,000: Food Fighters by Courtney Hogan and Brianna Ballard

A food recovery program that fights to eliminate food waste on UNF’s campus

$10,000: Gents for Jax by Vaughn Sayers and Farouk Smith

A mentoring program for young men in Jacksonville

$10,000: Project Brush Up by Tylyn Dagsaan and Noelle O’Connor

A public art initiative that is a collaboration between local artists and middle-school students

People’s Choice: Elevating Refugee Peers by Julia Driscoll

A plan to help refugee students assimilate more easily to Northeast Florida

Thank you to our generous investors.


Availity - United Way Leadership Award Winner     dvi


We’re seeking forward-thinking investors who will make a positive change by supporting creative and strategic solutions for community challenges.