United Way Suncoast celebrated its “finalist” designation at the 42nd annual Manatee Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Awards Thursday evening.
The regional nonprofit earned a finalist spot in the Nonprofit of the Year II category with four other organizations: Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, Selah Freedom and the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. We were happy to see Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, one of our strategic community partners, win the Nonprofit of the Year II award.
United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff, who attended the event at the Bradenton Area Convention Center with other UWS team members and Manatee Area board chair Cheri Coryea, celebrated all the winners and especially the nonprofit recipients. She knows that the challenges for nonprofits have grown only greater in the wake of the pandemic and the uncertain economy that has created price increases, higher gas costs and labor shortages.
“We were so honored to be included among the finalists,” Muroff said. “The recognition speaks to our impactful efforts in Manatee and the success of our collaborations with our strategic community partners.”
United Way Suncoast takes great pride in serving our five-county footprint, and we diligently work to tailor our efforts to meet the needs of each individual area.
In Manatee County, our work is highlighted by leading the Campaign for Grade Level Reading and spearheading The Big Plan. The Big Plan aims to bring about systemic change in literacy efforts by targeting 10 specific elementary schools in need areas. The goal is to double the number of third graders reading on grade level by 2026. In 2021-22, United Way Suncoast strengthened the plan by funding the addition of paraprofessionals at three elementary schools. That number will grow to seven in the upcoming school year.
United Way Suncoast also has become a leader in early learning and literacy efforts for children 0-5 in Manatee, and the work is serving as a model for our early learning efforts across the region. Just in the last three years, we’ve set the tone by opening the second of our two Manatee reading rooms at Bradenton Village. We’ve also initiated our United4Literacy kits campaign, and helped renovate space at the Rubonia Community Center for its before and after school programs.
The organization looks forward to more success in Manatee and across the region, and we salute Manatee Chamber president and CEO Jacki Dezelski and the entire chamber team for a great awards program and event.