Jacksonville, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2020) – United Way of Northeast Florida announced today Miller Electric Company, a national electrical contractor and systems integrator headquartered in Jacksonville and long-time supporter of the organization, donated $1 million to support United Way’s focus on race, equity and social justice in Northeast Florida.
“We are grateful to Miller Electric for their partnership and for showing such strong support for race, equity and social justice through their generous gift,” said Michelle Braun, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida. “In order to tackle this issue at the level and depth it requires, we must have long-term partners and leaders like Miller Electric join us. We must fight for equity and strive to create communities where everyone has the resources, opportunities and support they need to thrive. This lead gift provides a significant initial investment and I hope serves as a challenge to others to secure additional funding for this important work.”
According to the recent “ALICE in Florida: A Financial Hardship Study” report commissioned by United Way, nearly 40% of households struggle to make ends meet in Northeast Florida, defined Duval, Nassau, Clay, Baker and St. Johns counties. Locally and across Florida, this number increases dramatically for Black households: 63% of Black households in Florida are unable to afford basic household essentials in their communities.
Miller Electric’s transformational gift will support United Way’s goal to change the paradigm for people of color in Northeast Florida and dramatically improve outcomes – as well as allow the organization to advance racial justice by empowering those closest to the issues. The generous gift will also fund existing programs and services, including place-based work, collective impact partnerships, civil discourse and capacity-building.
“Community is one of our core values at Miller Electric, and reinvesting in the communities where we work is part of our mission,” said Henry K. Brown, CEO of Miller Electric Company. “We recognize race equity and social justice impacts almost every issue in our society – and it will take a committed, long-term approach to make any significant change. As a family-owned company, we take a generational approach to our business, and we know we need to bring the same approach to these issues. As the events that unfolded this year brought the spotlight on the continued race equity challenges across the country and in our local community, we did not want to sit on the sidelines.”
“As a company and as a family, we have consistently committed to working with United Way to invest in the long-term health of our community. They are not afraid to take on our community’s biggest challenges and do so in a strategic way to create significant change,” continued Brown, a third-generation leader of the Jacksonville-based company. “When we decided we wanted to create change on this issue, we turned to United Way to see how we could work together to make a lasting impact. This is generational work that will take the collaboration of the entire community, and I am confident United Way is the right organization to lead this effort.”
Drawing from a 95-year history of connecting people, resources and ideas to address the community’s most urgent challenges, United Way has developed and funded programs and organizations that tackle poverty and, more recently, generational poverty. Understanding the relevance and urgency of the situation, the organization knows it must continue to drive investment in the programs already addressing the effects of inequity as well as do more to specifically address structural racism and the systems that keep people in poverty.
With the support of partners like Miller Electric, United Way of Northeast Florida is committed to a dedicated focus on race, equity and social justice, incorporating a race-equity lens on all of their work to foster a more just community. Underscoring the importance of this work to ensure positive change and impact, the organization identified three areas of focus that require investment:
United Way will continue to work with community partners and local residents to put this tremendous investment to use.