Mentoring Matters: Cayden & Alana’s Story

Alana and Cayden are one example of how mentoring truly matters.

The first time Alana asked Cayden to look in the mirror and name three things she liked about herself, she couldn’t name one. Just one year later, she can name more than three. She’s thriving in STEM at Kearns Academy of Computer and Information Science and is more confident than ever. And it’s all thanks to the power of mentorship.

“I don’t know where I’d be without my mentor, Ms. Alana,” said Cayden.

Alana, founder of I Am A Queen, launched the nonprofit at just 23 years old after recognizing the need for a mentor in her own life. The organization is a member of United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Mentoring Matters initiative that works to increase the number of mentors and improve the effectiveness of mentoring programs in the Greater Greensboro area. United Way supports mentoring because young people who have additional positive, caring adults in their lives as mentors are more likely to overcome and avoid poverty.

“When I was abused as a child, I didn’t have an adult to turn to. I knew I needed to create a safe space for young girls in my community to express themselves and grow into their full potential. 12 years later, I Am A Queen is impacting lives like I only imagined it would,” said Alana.

According to Alana and Cayden both, Cayden’s growth in the last year through mentorship and volunteerism has been nothing short of amazing.

“When I first met Cayden, she was extremely shy. She sat in the back of the room. Cayden is so much more confident now. She is an awesome public speaker. She’s giving back to her community,” said Alana. “Cayden has awesome parents who support her so much. Having the extra boost of a mentor helped her to shine.”

The data supports this too. According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, having a mentor is linked to improved academic, social, and economic prospects. 

Young adults with mentors are:

  • 55% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly
  • And 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.

Cayden thinks everyone should have a mentor. “Some of my friends would benefit from having a mentor—everyone would! You can get off track about what’s important, but your mentor is there to help you be your best self, bring out your strengths, and help you work on your areas of improvement. You need someone in your life that will help push you and my mentor has always done that for me,” said Cayden.

Outside of the classroom, Cayden believes that serving her community is her responsibility. When asked why she volunteers, Cayden said, “It’s a given.” She’s participated in all three of I Am A Queen’s big community service events— Winter Drive for the Homeless, Back to School, and Christmas Adoption—along with other community volunteer opportunities. Looking to 2021, Cayden will even be volunteering to teach a STEM workshop for I Am A Queen participants.

Mentors like Alana help keep students in school, improve self-esteem, and set career goals and take steps to realize them. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset. Right now, there are children in our community waiting for someone like you to listen, guide and share your life experience with them. Click here to learn more about how to become a mentor.

Public Invited to Attend United Way’s Free Virtual Holiday Concert featuring Jessica Mashburn and Evan Olson

Greensboro, NC (December 3, 2020) – United Way of Greater Greensboro (UWGG) is continuing to celebrate its 98th year and invites everyone in the community to join the fun. On December 17, 5:30-6:30 p.m., UWGG is hosting a free virtual concert with live music by local artists Jessica Mashburn and Evan Olson.

“We are so excited to partner our music with United Way’s work to end poverty. It’s our belief that if more people supported their mission, they could lift up our community to a position where those in need could begin to thrive here,” said Mashburn.

Everyone is invited to virtually attend the concert to learn about what’s new with UWGG’s efforts to end poverty and enjoy the family-friendly concert.

UWGG is asking 10,000 people to donate $100 this year. During the event, attendees will be invited to text IND100 to 41444 to give and become one of the 10,000 people joining the movement to end local poverty.

Visit www.UnitedWayGSO.org/Concert to register and watch via Zoom. Alternatively, watch the Facebook livestream at www.facebook.com/unitedwaygso.

United Way of Greater Greensboro Community Impact Manager Justin Williams-Blackwell Named in Inaugural “20 in their 20s” Awards

Greensboro, NC (November 19, 2020) – United Way of Greater Greensboro Community Impact Manager for Health and Basic Needs Justin Williams-Blackwell was named in the Triad Business Journal’s inaugural 20 in their 20s awards. 

According to the Triad Business Journal, their newest awards program recognizes the region’s young talent — those that have made significant contributions to their workplaces and communities before they turn 30. 

“I’m humbled to be selected as one of the Triad Business Journal’s 20 in their 20s award winners. Congratulations to all of the talented young professionals recognized. This honor was made possible by the amazing individuals that I’ve worked alongside and served through my work. I’m eternally grateful for them and look forward to continuing to make a difference in my community for many years to come,” said Williams-Blackwell.  

Williams-Blackwell joined United Way of Greater Greensboro in 2018. He is a graduate of Guilford College and the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). For nearly nine years, Williams-Blackwell has worked in the Greensboro nonprofit community working to eliminate poverty, ensure adequate housing, decrease health disparities and dismantle systemic racism. He was named a 2017 National Rising Star by the American Society of Public Administration. Williams-Blackwell is an active volunteer in the Greensboro community, serving on the UNCG Masters in Public Affairs Alumni Advisory Council, Piedmont Triad Regional Food Council, United Way Young Leaders Cabinet and more. 

Triad Business Journal will celebrate the honorees in a special print publication out Dec. 6, in addition to online and social media coverage. 

Public Invited to Attend United Way’s 13th Annual Conversations with Community Leaders hosted by African American Leadership, Dec. 8

Greensboro, NC (November 13, 2020) – The public is invited to attend United Way of Greater Greensboro’s 13th Annual Conversations with Community Leaders hosted by African American Leadership on December 8, 2020 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Hosted on Zoom, this free event is open to the public and will feature a panel discussion. This year’s event topic is “Working Your Way out of Poverty: Addressing Workforce Development Through Equity and Reentry”. Attendees will be empowered to create collaborative solutions. To RSVP, visit unitedwaygso.org/convo.

Presenters include:

  • Edward Williams, Reentry Director, Guilford County Sheriff’s Department
  • Chris Rivera, Director of Workforce Development, City of Greensboro
  • Love Jones, Director Human Rights, City of Greensboro
  • Lynch Hunt, Owner, AWOL Fitness

Special thanks to event sponsors:

  • American National Bank
  • Cone Health Foundation 
  • Cone Health System
  • Greensboro Housing Authority
  • Lincoln Financial Group

Public Invited to Attend Virtually, End Poverty: The Lunch and Learn Series Hosted by United Way Young Leaders, Nov. 12

Greensboro, NC (November 11, 2020) – The public is invited to attend End Poverty: The Lunch and Learn Series hosted by United Way of Greater Greensboro Young Leaders. Hosted on Zoom, the session will take place on November 12, 12- 1 p.m. 

Attendees will learn from local about COVID-19’s impact on local education, health and housing issues. This series is free and open to the public. 

Featured speakers include: 

  • Dr. Jamie King, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Professional Development at Guilford County School 
  • Jamilla Pinder, Assistant Director Healthy Communities at Cone Health 
  • Justin Williams-Blackwell, Community Impact Manager for Health and Basic Needs at United Way of Greater Greensboro 

“In the wake of the pandemic, we’re all wondering where we go from here and how we can help. This session of End Poverty: The Lunch and Learn Series provides a great opportunity to learn about how COVID-19 is still impacting our community and what we can all do to make a difference. Our incredible speakers will definitely educate and inspire attendees to take action,” said Lauren Forbis, Marketing and Communications Manager at United Way of Greater Greensboro. 

To register, visit www.unitedwaygso.org/learn

United Way Issues 2019-20 Annual Report, Celebrates Community Impact

Greensboro, NC (November 6, 2020) – United Way of Greater Greensboro (UWGG) is pleased to announce the release of its 2019-20 Annual Report.

In the 2019-20 fiscal year, United Way created 30 partnerships that supported 59 holistic programs and initiatives that are working together to end local poverty. Over the year, more than 56,000 people were helped in greater Greensboro and volunteers gave 25,951 hours of their time.

The report additionally highlights the tremendous impact generous donors and community members make possible by highlighting specific outcomes, success stories, and financial updates. 

To view the annual report, please visit unitedwaygso.org/annualreport.

United Way of Greater Greensboro Young Leaders Host Kits for Kids Drive in Place of Annual Trunk or Treat, Entire Community Invited to Volunteer

Greensboro, NC (October 16, 2020) –  In place of their annual Trunk or Treat event, United Way of Greater Greensboro Young Leaders is inviting everyone in the community to host a “Kits for Kids” drive. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Young Leaders reimagined their annual in-person event to create a fun, impactful volunteer opportunity.

“While we certainly wish we could gather together, we are confident the Kits for Kids drive will continue the legacy of this beloved event in a safe, impactful way,” said Lauren Forbis, Marketing and Communications Manager at United Way of Greater Greensboro.

Everyone is invited to host a “Kit for Kids” drive with their family and friends, neighborhood, office or place of worship. Simply assemble your kits and drop them off at United Way during the week of Oct. 19. Kits will be delivered to community partners— including United Way’s Family Success Centers, three Greensboro Public Library branches, and the African American Male Initiative mentoring program— for distribution to local kids. 

Kits will be available for the public to pick up at the following Greensboro Public Library branches: Vance H. Chavis, Glenwood and Hemphill.

To sign up to host a drive, visit unitedwaygso.org/trunk2020. A toolkit of helpful tips along with a listing of needed items is available on the same web page.

Young Leaders are a donor affinity group of United Way of Greater Greensboro. Cone Health is a generous sponsor of this event.

United Way Community Survey Indicates Poverty as a Significant Problem in Greater Greensboro

United Way combining survey results with additional community findings related to racial equity and justice to create strategic plan addressing poverty 

Greensboro, NC (September 25, 2020) –United Way of Greater Greensboro (UWGG) is pleased to announce 1,200 caring residents recently participated in a communitywide survey that will help its strategic planning efforts to lift children, adults, and families out of poverty.  

The survey which was released in the Spring asked people to identify local social issues they believed needed to be addressed, their overall opinion of UWGG, and how best to engage the community in the organization’s work. 

For 98 years, UWGG has relied on community input to identify community issues that need to be addressed. UWGG sought input from the community in 2014, and results helped the organization define poverty as its single focus issue. Since then, UWGG has ensured its partnerships are working together holistically to end poverty. 

COMMUNITY SURVEY FINDINGS 

The most recent community survey was conducted by a consulting group to ensure unbiased results and reporting. Findings will help UWGG build upon its efforts to end poverty and define targeted goals. The executive summary of survey findings can be found at: www.UnitedWayGSO.org/Survey.  

In the survey, the community identified homelessness/housing as the most significant community issue, ahead of poverty, mental health, crime, health care and hunger. Although poverty was not ranked as the most significant issue facing the community, nearly all respondents agreed that poverty is a significant problem.  

Findings also indicated that both current donors and nondonors have a favorable opinion of United Way and its leadership, and that the organization is well positioned to continue leading local efforts to end poverty.  

Since the survey was issued, the importance of working together as a community to address issues has been heightened in the wake of the impacts of COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 57,000 people were living in poverty in the greater Greensboro area, including one out of every four children in Greensboro. Due to the pandemic and its economic impact on thousands of people, companies, and organizations the number of people who are financially unstable or living in poverty is expected to increase.  

RACIAL EQUITY SURVEY FINDINGS 

In response to the murder of George Floyd, UWGG hosted a series of four virtual community conversations attended by hundreds of people to listen and learn how best to align its work of ending poverty with racial equity and justice.  

UWGG ultimately surveyed participants and community members to identify common themes from these virtual conversations. Respondents were asked to identify and rank their top three short-term and top two long-term priorities they believed needed to be collaboratively addressed in the community.  

Survey participants were also asked if they would like to volunteer on committees or groups, or with local organizations addressing these issues and 80 people indicated they would like to volunteer. UWGG’s racial equity work can be found at: www.unitedwaygso.org/equity.  

The survey identified the following priorities: 

For action now and implementation in 180 days 

  • Racial Equity Training for community members, business leaders, government employees, public service staff, students, educators, faith community, etc. 
  • Workforce Development for jobs at wages that support families 
  • Police Transparency open conversations and data sharing regarding policing 

For action that will take more than 180 days and implemented within two years 

  • Housing addressing affordable housing issues, evictions, repairs, rent assistance and homeownership programs 
  • Early Childhood Development access and affordability of universal programs for pre-K education and childcare  

STRATEGIC NEXT STEPS 

UWGG is working to connect racial equity survey findings and volunteers to appropriate organizations and committees. UWGG will combine racial equity and community survey results to produce strategic action steps that are aligned with its efforts to end poverty. Findings will help UWGG improve its internal and external operations as it works to address racial equity and develop a renewed community goal of ending poverty. 

“Right now, our community is facing two major issues that are very aligned with our strategic efforts to end poverty. The pandemic has no doubt caused more families to fall into poverty, and our community’s call for racial equity and justice has highlighted the voices of people who have been systematically forced into poverty for centuries. We are more eager than ever to work together as a community to address the root causes of poverty. Everyone has a seat at our table,” said Michelle Gethers-Clark, President and CEO, UWGG. 

UWGG’s holistic solutions to address the root causes of poverty include safe housing and shelter, nutritious food services, educational supports for children, job training and placement, and initiatives like UWGG’s Family Success Centers. 

“We are very well positioned to help families in our community who are struggling and looking for pathways out of poverty. Please take a moment to learn more about our efforts by visiting our website and consider joining the movement to end local poverty.”

Tidal Wave Auto Spa Hosts 12th Annual Charity Day Benefitting United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Efforts to End Poverty, Sept. 18

Greensboro, NC (September 17, 2020) – Giving back to the communities they call home is a core value for Tidal Wave Auto Spa. Tidal Wave’s 12th Annual Charity Day will be held Friday, September 18, 2020 and will benefit United Way of Greater Greensboro.

“We chose to focus our 12th annual Charity Day on United Way of Greater Greensboro for the third year in a row because we know their efforts to end poverty are working. We are looking forward to another successful year raising dollars and awareness for United Way,” said Jennifer Rogers, Marketing Manager for Tidal Wave Auto Spa.

United Way of Greater Greensboro is kicking off its 98th annual campaign this month. Prior to the pandemic, there were more than 57,000 people in greater Greensboro living in poverty, making community member support more important than ever before.

Tidal Wave donates proceeds from all sales made each Charity Day to a charity or non-profit in the local community. Across all its locations in the Midwest and Southeast, a total of $500,000 has been raised from Charity Day donations alone.

Tidal Wave Auto Spa of Greensboro is located at 3745 Battleground Ave, Greensboro, NC 27410 and is open from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

United Way of Greater Greensboro Continues 98th Year Celebration With Free Virtual Concert featuring J. Timber, Sept. 22

Greensboro, NC (September 16, 2020) –  United Way of Greater Greensboro (UWGG) is continuing to celebrate its 98th year and invites everyone in the community to join the fun. On Sept. 22, 5:30-6:30 p.m., UWGG is hosting a free virtual concert with live music by local artist J. Timber.

J. Timber is a longtime supporter of UWGG’s efforts to end poverty. He was featured on UWGG’s Artists United to End Poverty benefit album, produced in partnership with The Culture Pushers. He has also performed at multiple UWGG events including Young Leader’s volunteer game nights at UWGG’s Family Success Centers.

“I care about the work United Way is doing. I believe in it, and I want to use my platform to them end local poverty,” said J. Timber. 

Everyone is invited to virtually attend the concert to learn about UWGG’s efforts to end poverty and enjoy the family-friendly concert.

UWGG is asking 10,000 people to donate $100 this year. During the event, attendees will be invited to text IND100 to 41444 to give and become one of the 10,000 people joining the movement to end local poverty.

Visit www.UnitedWayGSO.org/Concert to register and watch via Zoom. Alternatively, watch the Facebook livestream at www.facebook.com/unitedwaygso.