The Greenwich United Way Board of Directors Annual Meeting happened on Wednesday, January 24, at the Innis Arden Golf Club in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. Members of the Organization’s staff and Board welcomed five new Board members; Karen Chaplin, Grace Lockhart Djuranovic, Jaime Eisenberg, Mario Forlini and Eva Maria Janerus. Four members retired from the Board; Richard Porter, Jill Weiner, Marie Woodburn and the Organization’s Board Chair, Karen Keegan. Anne Sherrerd was appointed as the new Board Chair. Sherrerd has served on the Greenwich United Way Board of Directors for six years, three of those years on the Executive Committee. Her roles have included Co-Chair of the CEO Search Committee, Vice Chair for Stewardship and Co-Chair of the Sole Sisters Luncheon. Sherrerd currently serves on the Princeton University Board of Trustees and the Princeton University Art Museum Advisory Council. “The Greenwich United Way is appreciative and grateful for the incredible talent and dedication that Karen Keegan brought to the role of Board Chair for the last three years,” said Sherrerd. She continued, “She led the organization through a period of significant change with skill and wisdom — and an extraordinary work ethic driven by a passionate devotion to the organization and its mission. I’m really looking forward to continuing this work with the entire Board of Directors and Advisory Board – as well as David and our great staff – in the coming year!”
During the meeting, Keegan gave her final Chair report detailing the highlights and accomplishments from the preceding year and introduced Greenwich United Way’s CEO, David Rabin to expand on plans for the new year. “Our future includes both Direct Impact and our Community Investment Process,” said Rabin. He continued, “Our new dual philanthropic model drives right to the heart of our mission of identifying unmet local health, education and self-sufficiency needs, raising awareness and support, and working collaboratively with our community partners to initiate solutions and implement programs that have a lasting and positive effect.” Two new staff members were introduced; Director of Community Impact, Robert Moore and Champions Program Coordinator, Cecile Meunier. Both will work together under Direct Impact Programs.
There are three main categories that fall under the new Direct Impact Programs arm of the Organization. These are; Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions (ECAGS), Youth Impact Programming (YIP), and Human Services Technology Solutions (HSTS). Right now, youth programming (YIP) consists of the Greenwich United Way flagship program, Reading Champions, which is part of the Champions Programs for elementary school children and the Greenwich Jr United Way (GJrUW) program for teens. The Greenwich United Way is planning to expand the Champions programs to include Finance Champions, Homework Champions and Coding Champions. Last year, the Greenwich Jr United Way expanded from Greenwich High School to include all students across town in middle and high school. The GJrUW program currently has members representing Eastern Middle School, Sacred Heart, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich Country Day School, Brunswick, and Greenwich High School. The program allows teens to practice philanthropy and leadership skills within their community.
Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions Program is a two-pronged approach that will close the Achievement Gap and is launching as a collaboration between the Greenwich United Way, Family Centers, YMCA of Greenwich and Greenwich Public Schools. “In 2015, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reported that for every $1 spent on early childhood education, there is an $8.60 return. So, 3 years of funding alone to launch Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions will return over $10 million dollars to our communities,” said Rabin. The first prong of the ECAGS program is for at-risk children ages birth to 3 years old and the second prong addresses children ages 3 to 5 years old. The first prong is an at-home visitation program, using a four-step approach to improve the lives of the kids and their parents, called Parents As Teachers (PAT). PAT is a 30-year-old proven data-driven solution to close the Achievement Gap for at-risk kids who are entering kindergarten. According to the Needs Assessment, at-risk kids in Greenwich are entering kindergarten 28 to 36 points behind their non-at-risk peers. The second prong of this program targets children 3 to 5 years by placing a preschool instructional coach in 13 at-risk preschool classrooms to enhance and enrich those curriculums. “Inserting an instructional coach in preschools is eight times more effective than sending those teachers to traditional workshops,” said Rabin. He continued, “We also know that Achievement Gap starts before kindergarten. Yale research shows when an at-risk child goes through both of these programs they will enter kindergarten on a level playing field with their non-at-risk peers”.
Towards the end of the year, the Greenwich United Way is planning to launch Human Services Technology Solutions which is the evolution of Community Answers hotline and database. This program is a technology platform used by many other organizations across the nation. The platform will give Greenwich real-time data on the dramatically changing pace of human services needs in the community and will make service providers more efficient for those seeking support. The Greenwich United Way information platform will increase the effectiveness of fundraising making every dollar go further. “I’m looking forward to taking last year’s accomplishments and blending them with what is happening today to ensure our success in meeting our town’s most critical needs moving forward. The leadership and support that our Board provides generates an enormous impact on our community and is what makes Greenwich a great place for families to thrive”, said Rabin.
In 2017, for the first time ever, the Greenwich United Way conducted two rounds of Community Investment Grant funding for local agencies. After granting $750,000 of grants in January last year, the Organization awarded an additional $296,500 in June plus $366,000 in services and programs for a total of $1.4 million invested last year. A list of what Greenwich United Way grants helped to provide in 2017 include, but are not limited to; crisis intervention for 1000 teenagers; after school care for 350 children; preschool scholarships to 600 youth; counseling for 1000 victims of domestic violence; daytime care for 86 frail and elderly residents; emergency shelter for more than 150 individuals per day; aid to help over 100 Greenwich residents fighting addiction; 57,000 rides – transportation for the elderly and disabled in Greenwich.
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