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National Effort "Empowers" Poor: $33 Million Boost from United Way NYC

June 21, 2012

NEW YORK - Nonprofits and grant-makers from New York and the nation have been banding together for the past year to help those most in need. As of today, they have raised more than $3 billion.

Juanita Ayala Vargas, vice president of community investment with United Way New York City, says it made sense for her nonprofit to get involved in the national effort, called Philanthropy's Promise, because it shares United Way's mission of serving those who are hurting the most.

"We raised $33 million and all of our dollars are going to work toward making systemic and policy changes that really affect those New Yorkers who are most in need."

United Way in New York City was one of the 125 grant-makers around the nation that the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy approached. Together, they helped Philanthropy's Promise raise more than $3.4 billion in its first year.

Vargas says the dollars in New York aren't just being spent on making wonky policy changes; they're going directly to people.

"These funds are helping families meet basic needs such as food and shelter and going toward helping young people graduate from high school. Other work was around increasing the nutrition and the quality of food being provided to New Yorkers."

Today is also the 175th anniversary of the founding of the United Way, and Vargas says next year will mark 75 years of giving for the group in New York City.

"The way that we've worked has changed, but the goal has always been to ensure that resources are going to the most vulnerable communities."

Philanthropy's Promise was started by 64 grant-makers who pledged that at least 50 percent of their funding would be invested in marginalized groups, and at least 25 percent would support advocacy to address the root causes of poverty, environmental injustice and other social problems. More information is available at www.philanthropyspromise.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY