One year ago, we announced the largest gift in United Way of Palm Beach County’s 90-year history: a $10 million unrestricted gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott (ICYMI watch it here). After we processed our excitement and our “pinch-us-this-can’t-be-real” feelings, we got to work to figure out how to maximize this gift for the greatest impact in PBC.
United Way of Palm Beach County is built around examining evidence-based research, implementing best practices and innovative services, and creating data-driven results the local community needs.
After doing research, interviewing local leaders, and seeking input from the community, we identified two areas that funding was urgently needed in our community: ongoing hunger relief efforts and a better system of supports for veterans.
Since 2015, UWPBC and the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, backed by a group of 180 local organizations, have been leading the PBC Hunger Relief Initiative. Through this collaboration, there’s been an 8% reduction in Palm Beach County residents who are food insecure, and a 17.2% reduction in food insecure children. However, the 2021 Feeding America Map the Meal gap food insecurity numbers still show a staggering 181,340 food insecure residents including 52,580 children.
Using funding from MacKenzie Scott, we are implementing these strategies to continue reducing the number of food insecure people in PBC:
We believe whole-heartedly in the saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.” We’re investing money into our extensive network of hunger relief partners, so that we can decrease hunger more comprehensively and effectively among the residents of Palm Beach County.
Increase the capacity of the hunger system to provide a higher volume of food with greater nutritional value to residents year-round.
Chances are, if someone is struggling with access to nutritious food, they may need assistance in other areas too. We’re investing in strategies that increase the distribution capacity of food pantries to serve more food to residents and provide a connection to other needed services (i.e., education, employment, housing, health, etc.).
The second area of investment of the MacKenzie Scott funds are directed to better serve our veterans and their families. (This initiative is also very personal for our CEO Dr. Laurie George. Read why she is so passionate to help the veteran community!).
About 84,000 veterans call Palm Beach County home. Many veterans struggle to secure the basics and access supports (e.g., housing, employment, behavioral health services, legal aid, and benefits) after completing military service. Further, many agencies lack sufficient resources to meet the basic and emergent needs of veterans. United Way will launch a unique PBC MISSION UNITED model, with a Veterans Hub to alleviate some of these issues.
Here’s how we are strategically investing in MISSION UNITED:
Support cross-system and intrasystem collaboration designed to meet the needs of veterans more comprehensively and effectively in Palm Beach County. There are many organizations doing the good work for our veterans, but there’s a great opportunity for everyone to work collectively to better solve issues that veterans frequently face.
Aid in navigating the veterans’ and partner systems to wrap veterans with needed supports. Finding resources can feel like going down a rabbit hole. We’re proposing a hub that serves as a one-stop-shop for veterans to be connected to services and a case manager to help guide them through these referrals.
Improve the capacity of veterans-serving nonprofits to support veterans comprehensively and effectively.
We can’t wait to show you the impact we will continue to make this year! We’d love to have you join us to make a greater difference for PBC. You can donate, volunteer, or sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on all we’re up to in 2022!