Friday, May 17, 2013

A deeper look at our Affinity Groups

Young United Professionals
Young professionals have long been supporting the mission of United Way of Delaware (UWD). This affinity group was one of the first created, though under a different name, in 2008. This group of energetic professionals volunteered throughout the state, building and maintaining Born Learning Trails. They also had networking mixers, social events, and met with local CEOs and Executive Directors to learn about different paths to professional and
civic fulfillment. This group has officially re-launched as the Young United Professionals (YUP for short). Led by Emeka Igwe from his own law office and Michael MacFarland, Regional VP, State of Delaware Market for TD Bank, the group is quickly gaining momentum.
UWD is rebuilding the YUP committee, which is composed of professionals from across sectors, from entities that currently include Christiana Care Health System, the Delaware Art Museum, M&T Bank, Delaware State University, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and more. The group is focused on supporting UWD's mission by creating a network of action-oriented young professionals and providing them with volunteering, professional development, and networking opportunities. The se opportunities will be focused on creating impact in the areas of Education, Income and Health.
YUP invites interested members to join them for a recruitment and networking social on Monday, June 24th at World Café Live at the Queen! We will have light food and drinks, an open mic, raffles, and more! Ten percent of the proceeds will benefit UWD. For more information about YUP and about the June 24th event, please contact Sarah Kenney at (302) 573-3751 or

In early April, presidents of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) throughout Delaware came together to host the 2013 "Spring in Paradise" Fashion Show at the Baby Grand in Wilmington. The event showcased the hard work and leadership of local teens, who literally "ran the show!"  

The fashion show was sponsored by United Way of Delaware's Pride Council, which
leverages community resources to improve the lives of the LGBT youth and adults in Delaware.
The event, which was youth directed, was the first of its kind for the Pride Council and proved to be a huge success. More than 200 people attended the event, and more than 100 teens participated, including more than 30 models, and additional dancers, singers, and a live band. Many GSAs were involved, including those from William Penn High School, Howard High School and Conrad School of Science.

The Pride Council will be hosting its next event on May 18. It will be a Movie and Pizza night, to be held at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Newark from 6 to 9 PM. Middle and high school students and their parents are encouraged to attend. In addition, the second annual Anti-Bullying GSA Conference is scheduled for October 26 at Appoquinimink High School. More details will be forthcoming. For more information the Pride Council and how you can get involved, contact Bob Martz at (302) 573-3738 or


Revive The Village
Only 47 percent of African-American males in Delaware are graduating from high school, according to The Urgency of Now, a report recently produced by the Schott Foundation. Revive The Village: Back to the Basics, an African-American initiative led by United Way of Delaware (UWD), is focused on changing that statistic and more with its 2013 initiative, called "Saving our Sons."

This initiative is being led by two newly appointed co-chairs: Myron Neal, Assistant Vice President at Bank of America, and Toni Bush-Neal, Executive Advisor to the Executive Director of an agency in Washington, D.C.  Most immediately, the group is seeking 100 African-American male mentors to be paired with mentees through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware. Currently, this agency has approximately 100 African-American adolescent boys who are on a wait-list for their mentoring program.
"We are seeking 100 ambassadors to join us in this movement. We are putting together a plan that will address the inequities in academics, health, employment, policies and practices. A plan that will focus on solutions, outcomes and measurable results," said Bush-Neal.
The "Saving our Sons" initiative will officially launch at a community breakfast to be held on Saturday, June 15 (Father's Day) at Stubbs Elementary in Wilmington. The breakfast, which will be from 7:50 to 9:15 AM, will immediately precede another community event -- "Me and My Dad Got Game" - a basketball tournament coordinated by Robert Moore and Team Crossover Elite.
"We as African Americans have a very rich and diverse history which gives us a strong foundation to draw from and build upon," said Myron Neal. "It is important for everyone in Delaware to recognize the need for a strategic focus on young African American men.  There are huge disparities involving employment, economic advancement, education, and health factors, just to name a few, for African-American men versus those measured in similar data pools of other ethnic groups."
Latinos Unidos
Making up nearly 17 percent of the American population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos are the largest minority group in the country and second largest in Delaware, with more than eight percent of the population being of Hispanic or Latino origin.
With these statistics, it's no surprise that the newest affinity group at United Way of Delaware (UWD) is United Latinos, headed up internally by Wanda Lopez, Associate Director of Community Impact with external leadership from UWD Board Member Tabatha Castro of The Castro Firm and Jacqueline Ortiz of Christiana Care Health System. This group just had its second official meeting and is beginning to organize around its mission of supporting community initiatives in the Hispanic community with a strategic focus in Education, Income and Health.
"We're exploring ways to be most effective as a group.  Many of us wear multiple hats to ensure representation at decision-making events that impact our community.  The discussion is focused on how to support and enhance Hispanic serving organizations and programs while avoiding duplication of efforts," says Lopez. This inclusive group is comprised of statewide leaders and representatives from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors of the Delaware community.
"Our focus is rooted in establishing a unique impact," says Latinos Unidos member Natalie Torres, Program Manager at Delaware Technical Community College. " I strongly believe this group will develop a unified voice for Latinos subsequently that will positively impact all Delawareans."
If you are interested in learning more about United Latinos, please e-mail Wanda Lopez at or reach her by phone at (302) 573-3761.
Women's Leadership Council
United Way of Delaware (UWD) is one of the most recent United Ways across the globe to create a special Women's Leadership Council (WLC). UWD's WLC is a vibrant community of women leaders from across the state. The group is focused on making a making a positive impact on the lives of Delawareans through strategic collaborations. They are in the process of adopting a signature program aimed at empowering women in the early learning profession.
"Early care and education is critically important to making sure our children are academically and socially prepared to enter school," said Michelle A. Taylor, President and Chief Executive Officer of UWD. "Therefore, supporting the professionals who care for these young children is key to building strong communities."
In addition, the WLC is overseeing the Muriel E. Gilman Women in Action Mentoring Program - the only mentoring program in the state in which professional women mentor other professional women, to help them achieve their business and community impact goals, while building longterm fulfilling relationships. Twenty-two pairs recently completed the mentoring program, with more than 10 causes supported and 200 volunteer hours completed. Twenty-eight new pairs just started on May 9 and will soon announce their community impact projects. For more information and to get involved with WLC, contact Jamee Boone at (302) 573-3795.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Inspired To Serve The Community

Delaware State University's Inspire Scholarship recipients as well as other students put action behind the institution's core values of "community" and "outreach" as they engaged in community service projects at five locations statewide as part of DSU's Inspired Day of Service" on April 6. More than 200 students participated in the community service outreach. Most painted, cleaned, performed routine maintenance and landscaping in teams at the East Side Charter School of Wilmington, the Newark Day Nursery and Children's Center, and Boys & Girls Clubs in Dover and Oak Orchard. Another team of student spent the day working at the Food Bank of Milford where they packaged food for the coming week.
The day began with a 9 a.m. opening ceremony on the DSU campus in the main gymnasium area of the Wellness and Recreation Center. U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Lt. Gov. John Carney, state Sen. Brian Bushweller, state Rep. Darryl Scott took part in the ceremony before the students boarded their buses to travel to the five work locations. The DSU Inspired Day of Service was supported this year by United Way of Delaware.

Life Defined Event Series

We have been championing a new initiative which is geared towards furthering our commitment to youth engagement in the state of Delaware. "Life Defined" is a series of volunteer engagement events designed to facilitate mutually beneficial interactions between UWD board members and small groups of Delaware youth centered around the concept of a life map.
When you share a life map, you are sharing and connecting with others in the most personal way by choosing to reveal your authentic self. The concept is simple, yet powerful - individuals from all walks of life and those young or young at heart thoughtfully talk about a handful of major, life-defining moments that have contributed to shaping them into he singularly unique person they are today.
The board members have a wonderful opportunity to act as asset builders for the youth with whom they are fortunate enough to engage. In collaboration with several host organizations such as Christina Cultural Arts Center, Delaware Futures, YMCA Black Achievers, 4H Health Living Ambassadors, and One Village Alliance, UWD wanted to offer 5 two-hour events throughout March and April in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex County. Through using a tool called a "Life Map" our board members are able to recount major life experiences that have helped to shape the people they are today. This creates a satisfying experience for both the adults and youth involved as we focus on the similarities that inherently shape our lives rather than the issues that separate us. Our goal for the youth through this program focuses on keeping a emphasis on strengthening and acquiring assets rather than emphasizing deficits.
Throughout these "Life Defined" events we have been able to establish connections that make a lasting impact for our youth. Our board members have become well aware of the missions and programs offered by our host organizations and the daily impact they make. We have seen a variety of youth inspired by interacting with successful leaders from their community, and have shared their future aspirations with them. From these conversations relationships have been built and potentially lends itself to be a catalyst for future opportunities. Overall, these events have created authentic relationship between the adult and youth, and have thus far been a fruitful and productive collaboration.
Life Defined Events By County
New Castle
UWD host Christiana Cultural Arts Center at UWD Offices on 3/9
UWD host Delaware Future's at UWD Officers on 3/16
YMCA Black Achiever's at Walnut Street YMCA on 3/20
One Village Alliance on 3/26
Minority Engineering Regional Incentive Training (M.E.R.IT.) at Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club on 4/13

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Eat Responsibly

Great Food + Good Times + Friends + Philanthropy =
Eating Responsibly

Join us for the month of April at Timothy's On the Riverfront where 20% of your bill will be donated to United Way of Delaware.   Dine in, let the manager know you're raising funds for United Way of Delaware and enjoy yourself.  It's that easy.   Thank you for dining out the United Way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nearly $3 Million Saved on Prescription Medicine through Dec. 31, 2012 with United Way of Delaware and FamilyWize

United Way of Delaware and the FamilyWize Community Service Partnership have teamed up to make prescriptions more affordable for those without insurance or even those who have insurance that doesn’t cover their medicine. FamilyWize cards have provided needed relief with great success, saving 19,064 people in our community more than $2,828,778 on the cost of their medicine. However, there are still many more people whose health is endangered because their prescriptions are too expensive and they are not getting the medicines they need.

Surveys in the last two years by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that supports independent research on health care issues, notes particular difficulties for people who lost insurance when they became uninsured:
  • 57% who had health benefits through their jobs and then lost their jobs became uninsured
  • 52% of uninsured adults with a chronic condition skipped doses or did not fill a prescription for their condition because of the cost
Even people with insurance through their employer may find that cost keeps them from taking medicine as prescribed, particularly those with High Deductible Plans. According to an Employee Benefits Research Institute study;
  • 31% of people who had a deductible of at least $1,000 skipped a dose or didn’t fill a prescription because of cost.
"In 2013, we’d like to see every person in our community who is unemployed, uninsured, has to buy medicine not covered by their health plan or government program, or is unable to get the medicine they need for any reason, get a FamilyWize card from our United Way, " said Michelle Taylor, President and CEO of the United Way of Delaware. "We also encourage them to see what other services we can refer them to – like food banks and pantries, utility and housing assistance, and more. We know these are still hard times for many people and we’re here to help."

United Way of Delaware is one of 1,000 local United Ways that have joined the FamilyWize Community Service Partnership over the last 7 years. FamilyWize was recently named a Preferred Partner by United Way Worldwide to provide opportunities for increased awareness and collaborations nationwide.

"Our partnership with United Way Worldwide and almost 1,000 local United Ways nationwide gives us a national platform to help people in every community across the country," said Dan Barnes, FamilyWize CEO and Co-founder, "

Barnes added that FamilyWize has the capacity to help many more people and will be working hard to do so but the impact nationwide already is impressive:

• 5.2 million people helped

• 5,000 additional people helped each day

• $470 million saved on the cost of medications

"Locally or nationwide, what’s most important is that most of the time we save people about $20 per prescription when they use this card," added Taylor. "That’s money in their pocket when they need it most to pay bills and other necessities."

Average savings are almost 40% and can be as high as 75%. FamilyWize cards can be used at most pharmacies including all chain pharmacies and groceries nationwide.

Contact us at or by calling (302) 573-3700 for information on how to get a card, visit to download a card or text "family" to 700700 to get a text version of the card.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why She Rocks! The Full Cover Story

We've selected three young women in the community who we believe ROCK for our March all-women's e-newsletter issue.   Here are their full stories:
The Advocator
Shefon Taylor is being honored with this year's Genevieve Gore Young Woman's Leadership Award as a devoted leader dedicated to empowering women of color in her community. Shefon presently serves as the Special Projects Coordinator with the Wilmington HOPE Commission.  Starting her term as a Public Ally in 2010, she coordinated the 'HOPE Project: A Community Parternship', a program dedicated to breaking the cycle of incarceration by providing prevention services to children with parents in prison.  In 2012, Shefon along with Daneya Jacobs, co-founded Just BE, addressing the way girls and women of color are portrayed in the media through mentoring, media literacy and self empowerment education.  At the HOPE Commission, Shefon is committed to improve the quality of life, reduce crime and violence in the communities of the City of Wilmington.  She also authors a blog dedicated to encouraging and highlighting the stories of young mothers of color. Shefon's interests include; the relationship between African-American women's activism and feminist thought, public policy related to children, youth and their families.  Theater and the arts is also a subject of interest, particularly as evolving institutional priorities.  As a mentor and big cousin she encourages girls to 'listen to the wisdom of your inner voice and follow what delights your heart. Shefon is currently pursuing her degree in Public Policy.  She is also the mother of her son Aydin.
The Giver
 This passionate New Yorker (by way of the Bronx) who spends a large portion of her free time serving others in the community in order to ensure we live in a better Delaware. Rosa’s passion for stabilizing the community is evident in the many endeavors and organizations that she is involved in. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Duffy’s Hope, Inc., an organization she’s been involved with since 2009. It is there that she serves as a volunteer for its H.O.P.E.Mentorship Program that helps inner city kids in Wilmington and serves as an administrator for its summer basketball leagues and celebrity softball events. Her commitment to scholarship is obvious in the time she spends providing tutelage to the youth that she mentors through her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. It is there that she serves as a youth advisor and mentor to our future generations. As if that is not enough, Rosa has participated in initiatives with AIDS Delaware, March of Dimes, YWCA of Delaware and Food Bank of Delaware – all within her short tenure as a resident of Delaware. All while excelling in her career as an associate in the real estate industry. If you can’t find Rosa commanding the troops for the latest community service project or signing her name to yet another endeavor, you can surely find her somewhere laughing out loud. She loves to laugh and enjoys making others laugh more, counting it the best medicine anyone can prescribe. Rosa, who has served as committee chair for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, for the past three years is gearing up to co-chair the 11th Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk this fall, too. The champion spirit instilled within Rosa drives and motivates her to work tirelessly to bridge the gap between various non-profit organizations in the state of Delaware to further extend the reach to more individuals in need of services and resources each day. With that same spirit, she has identified sponsorship and job placement opportunities for the communities she serves and educates individuals on the importance of being a registered voter and a productive citizen. Rosa truly believes she was placed on earth to give of herself, time and commitment to others. Rosa is the eldest of two daughters and the proud mother of one. Her son, Darine Howze, is finishing up his senior year at York College of Pennsylvania and will graduate with a BA in Mass Communications this spring. Rosa obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1999.

The Exudor of Resiliency
Christine St. Juste was born and raised in Haiti until the age of 12 when she was given the opportunity to leave the third world country and come to America.  Here, she was placed in the foster care system where she spent nine years. Now, she is a senior at Delaware State University, with a 3.36 GPA, majoring in Criminal Justice and the first generation of her family to graduate from high school to further her education. Sometimes she's asked what is her motivation.  She says it's a statement her father made: "You will be living on the street and have lots of babies by the age of 17." Although his statement hurt her to her core, she didn't allow it to break her. Christelle will graduate from Delaware State University this May with a BA in Criminal Justice and become a Public Ally.  She will further her education to get a Masters in Social Work and a Juris Doctor. Throughout her life and now as a DSU student, she has been committed in making a difference in the community. As a member of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC), she has been exposed to a lot of volunteering opportunities. She is currently involved in a policy work group working with the Delaware Youth Opportunities Initiative (DYOI) advocating for foster youth and legislating the Ready by 21 Bill. The Ready by 21 Bill is the extension of youth in foster care until the age of 21 years old. She is also a part of the founding members of the Delaware State University Student United Way. This change organization addresses critical education, income and health issues. Other community efforts that she has participated in are Adopt-A-Highway, Rita’s Mental Health Awareness Month, Habitat-For-Humanity and feeding the homeless.  After graduation, St. Juste's says $tand By Me has been critical in assisting her financially. "I knew I would like to further my education. Since I did not have the financial support compared to my peers, I had to find different avenues in assisting me with school. $tand by Me scholarship is among the many who has helped tremendously. They provided me with a $tand by Me ally who serves as mentor and helped me with my resume, applying for a job, as well as implementing a post graduation plan. The financial coach considers my circumstances and helps develop strategies to help reach my goal."