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United Way announces $9 million investment to improve economic mobility in Northeast Florida

September 15, 2022

United Way of Northeast Florida announced today a $9 million investment to improve economic mobility throughout the region. The funds, distributed over a period of two years, will support 37 community-based programs that address critical challenges including food access, housing stability, education attainment and workforce development. Collectively, these programs will serve more than 210,000 residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and northern St. Johns counties.

“Every day, thousands of families in our community are struggling to make ends meet,” said Ned Peverley, chair of United Way of Northeast Florida’s community impact council and senior vice president of strategy, innovation and marketing for Vestcom. “They’ve navigated a global pandemic and are now faced with the rising costs of housing, food, transportation and other basic expenses. This investment unites a network of local partners in providing targeted intervention and support that will amplify our impact on the region and change even more lives for the better.”

Over the past two years, United Way has embarked on a board-driven process to deliver greater accountability and results. Using research and insights from a broad range of business, government and nonprofit partners, the organization identified a singular goal: to improve economic mobility for everyone in Northeast Florida. United Way also re-focused its resources and investments on three key areas – basic needs, financial well-being and racial equity – to drive stronger, more inclusive community outcomes.

“In an economically mobile community, every individual – regardless of the color of their skin or the zip code in which they were born – has the opportunity to do better than the generation before,” said Melanie Patz, incoming CEO at United Way of Northeast Florida. “If we intend to achieve our vision of creating a community of opportunity where everyone has hope and can reach their full potential, we have to begin by addressing the barriers limiting economic mobility.”

United Way will invest $1.7 million in eight programs that increase access to nutritious food, help avoid hunger and ensure good health for Northeast Florida residents. These programs provide a variety of services to the community, including food pantries, mobile food distribution and weekend meals for students in need. Grant recipients include:

  •  Baker County Council on Aging
  •  Barnabas Center
  •  Clara White Mission
  •  Feeding Northeast Florida
  •  Jewish Family & Community Services
  •  Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida
  •  Nassau County Council on Aging
  • Northside Community Involvement

An additional $2 million will fund nine programs that increase the number of residents maintaining permanent housing, which will reduce homelessness and allow individuals to grow and thrive in their communities. These programs offer rent and utility assistance, emergency shelter and affordable housing options. Grant recipients include:

  • Ability Housing
  • Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM)
  • Downtown Ecumenical Services Council (DESC)
  • Family Support Services of North Florida
  • Hubbard House
  • Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA)
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Jacksonville
  •  Sulzbacher

United Way will invest $1.8 million in seven programs that increase access to quality education and address barriers to academic success in the K-12 system. These programs offer academic tutoring, mentorship and other student supports. Grant recipients include:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida
  • Children’s Home Society of Florida
  • City Year
  • MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation
  •  New Heights of Northeast Florida
  •  Sanctuary of Northeast Florida
  • Vision Is Priceless

The organization will also invest nearly $3.6 million in 13 programs that increase opportunities for stable employment. These programs offer career readiness, job training and development, job placement and workplace mentoring services. Grant recipients include:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida
  • Communities In Schools of Jacksonville
  • Daniel Memorial
  • Generation USA
  • Girls Inc. of Jacksonville
  • LIFT Jax
  •  Literacy Alliance of Northeast Florida
  • Operation New Hope
  • Pace Center for Girls Jacksonville
  •  Seamark Ranch
  •  The Carpenter’s Shop Center
  •  Year Up

Grant recipients were identified using a request for proposal (RFP) process in which all applications were rigorously evaluated by a volunteer team of community leaders and subject-matter experts.