• Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

United Way creates mobile app to lift Guilford County residents out of poverty | Local

ByCindy J. Daddario

Jul 1, 2022

GREENSBORO – United Way of Greater Greensboro is building on the reach of its Family Success Centers by piloting a county-wide mobile version to help lift more people out of poverty.

The virtual platform, accessible via tablets or a basic smartphone, connects people to services and coordinators that will help them identify, track and achieve their personal financial stability goals.

And they are all connected to coordinators to guide them.

According to numerous studies, when a family is able to climb out of poverty, it also breaks the cycle for children.

“We’re taking all the benefits and services of Family Success Centers and what we’ve learned over the years,” said Khari Garvin, president and CEO of the association, “and finding a way to make them offer remotely”.

The 18-month pilot program for the Guilford Success Network, in which the group will track outcomes, barriers and access to services, has just launched with longtime member Aden Hailemariam as director.

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For those who wish to participate, a network partner must refer them to the program. The first partners are: GuilfordWorks, Housing Consultants Group, Triad Goodwill, Nehemiah Community Enrichment Center, The Servant Center, Welfare Reform Liaison Project, Guilford Community Care Network and The Forge Greensboro.

The network uses funds from a $10 million gift from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2020, but also from investments, partnerships and support through the group’s annual fundraising campaign. Scott’s $10 million gift is the largest donation United Way of Greater Greensboro has ever received and the agency is working on additional plans to honor its commitment to help families lift themselves out of poverty.

The agency was already working through the Brick and Mortar Family Success Centers to provide a pathway out of poverty for local families and individuals. While United Way relies on the local community to voluntarily care for each other, officials saw Scott’s donation as seed money to eventually advance the group’s work in new ways.

The main difference between the Family Centers, which will continue to offer services, and the virtual platform, organizers say, is that Success Center participants get services together at one location and members have the opportunity to bond relationships with their peers — other people like them who are working on goals like theirs.

The virtual platform borrows from these success centers, the first of which was launched in 2015 and focused on helping change a family’s situation. United Way hired Guilford Child Development as its lead agency because it addressed one of the main challenges of the poor: being able to access services that could help, but are spread across the city. A second Success Center has been opened at the Salvation Army Center of Hope.

These services – which focus on employment, education and health – are provided through collaboration with local agencies ranging from Guilford Technical Community College to Goodwill.

“It’s hard work,” Guilford Child Development site director Jaye Webb told overseas visitors planning to use the plan to open one of their own success centers in Colorado this fall. “But I promise you, there’s no better feeling than watching a family grow from disparity to being self-sufficient and taking care of themselves.”

Along with the Success Centers, United Way officials stressed that the project would continue to need a range of support from retired professionals to philanthropists to businesses keen to seek out jobs among participants – and always do.

Lincoln Financial, Duke Energy and a range of other companies have hired into the Success Center pool.

Contact Nancy McLaughlin at 336-373-7049 and follow @nmclaughlinNR on Twitter.