What We Do
United Way of Sun Coast brings together people and resources to tackle complex issues and drive sustainable positive change to help our community thrive.
Improve the lives of children, families and
WHAT WE DO
United Way Suncoast severs the constraints that prevent families from thriving. We dismantle the barriers to human prosperity, uniting our community along the way. When we provide pathways to early learning, financial stability and youth success, we lift up families as they cultivate a future beyond the circumstantial constraints put on them. We provide choices. We provide opportunities. We create space to grow for Asset-Limit, Income-Constrained, Employed (ALICE) families. These hard-working parents and children stand just one unexpected expense from dire circumstances. ALICE families compose more than 43 percent of all households in our region, and we’re working to create equity for them and all the community members in our five-county footprint: DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. We’re operating and funding services and programs to help them create the life they envision for themselves and fuel their Freedom To Rise.
Please explore below to learn more about what we do, and how you can help.
A comprehensive educational effort, United We Learn operates at the intersection of early learning and third-grade literacy. We work to ensure equity and access to early learning for all children. The goal is to elevate the number of children who enter kindergarten ready to learn, ensure school-age children have needed supports and strive to remove barriers for hard-working families. In 2022, we expanded our Quality Childcare Initiative to 43 preschools, provided professional development, behavioral support and environmental upgrades for childcare centers and continued to distribute United4Literacy kits to community partners to boost preschool learning. Increasing the number of students reading on level by the end of third grade remains a focus. We have invested and implemented programming within the attendance zones of 36 selected Title I Elementary schools composed of ALICE households. This includes the placement of paraprofessionals in four of our five school districts.
We build on the foundational elements of United We Learn by lending support to youth success programs that help middle and high school students avoid societal and academic pitfalls. United Way Suncoast has committed $2.8 million over the next three years (2022-2025) to 21 programs focused on Youth Success over the next three years in Hillsborough and Pinellas County where our ALICE families live. At the same time, our Education team will reassess our Youth Success work with the help of research from CareerSource Tampa Bay. CareerSource will conduct research to identify key organizations and contacts in each county and their roles in each segment of the youth success framework. It will publish a report defining the youth success landscape within and across the five-county footprint, and it will convene stakeholders to discuss Youth Success and to foster support and engagement from other organizations.
Our financial stability programs strive to ensure ALICE families have access to financial services and supports as well as career opportunities that lead to a sustaining wage and puts them on a path to prosperity. It focuses on financial literacy and workforce development, and also includes programs that elevate the mission. Thos programs include the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance initiative, a free tax preparation service for families and individuals with an annual income of $74,000 or less. VITA annually returns between $10 million and $12 million to the region in tax returns and income tax credits. We also serve as the lead convener of Bank On Suncoast, a grassroots coalition that aims to improve the financial stability of individuals who are unbanked or underbanked. In addition, United Way Suncoast works to address emerging issues such as the ongoing housing crisis. We launched a comprehensive effort in 2022 that has helped thousands of families stay in their homes or find new, stable housing.
United Way Suncoast believes the best way to help our neighbors is to join them in the neighborhoods. We maintain place-based initiatives with three neighborhood resource centers in Tampa (Sulphur Springs), South St. Petersburg (Campbell Park) and Clearwater (North Greenwood). Available services at the centers include job searches, resume building, computer access, fax and copying and notary. We also operate two reading rooms in Bradenton (La Mirada Garden Apartments, Bradenton Village). In addition, we lend grant support and capacity building guidance to dozens of nonprofits that provide support services. With all our endeavors, we insist the services be delivered with dignity.
Volunteer Action is a key part of United Way’s mission. Our Philanthropic Engagement team creates opportunities to serve throughout the year, including the MLK Day of Service in January, Week of Caring in April and the 9/11 Day of Remembrance in September. In addition, we lead thematic Monthly Engagement Opportunities. The volunteer opportunities are filled by individuals, civic leaders, corporate groups and youth organizations. They all help fuel our mission of removing barriers to early learning, financial stability and youth success. We create opportunities today that help transform the lives of individuals and families tomorrow.
United Way Suncoast has committed $18 million to support 100 programs across our five county region from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2025. Our investment in these partners supports our strategic plan initiatives ensuring quality early learning for children, foundational futures for youth and long term financial stability for families.
We also continue to maximize the impact of the $20 million gift we received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in December 2020. Scott did more than provide a transformational gift with her generosity, she issued a clarion call to United Way Suncoast and the other nonprofit recipients benefiting from her philanthropy. The message was clear: extend your mission work, help more people, address the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the nation’s social justice reawakening. That’s why we created our RISE (Reach, Invest, Support and Empower) initiatives with the support of our team, Board of Directors, and community partners.
Advocacy represents a cornerstone of our work at United Way Suncoast. We believe government plays a critical role in creating change that can improve people’s lives. But government cannot do it alone. Neither can United Way and the rest of the nonprofit sector. Led by our Public Policy Committee, United Way Suncoast actively engages in public policy advocacy to develop partnerships that include local, state, and federal governments – along with the private and nonprofit sectors.
At United Way Suncoast, we work every day to address our community’s long-term problems, and emerging issues such as the housing crisis. We’re here to meet those challenges. We’re here because we know no other approach than to be present for those longing to create a better life. We’re here because we know no other way than the United Way, bringing together caring stakeholders to make a difference. We’re here because of our corporate donors, individual supporters, volunteers and community members. It’s their support that allows us to say, United We Rise, United We Win.