Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

United Way's New Approach Steers Funds to Best Impact

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

United Way's New Approach Steers Funds to Best Impact

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Three sets of double doors opened and children wearing United Way "Live United" T-shirts rode Big Wheels into the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront ballroom.

The children didn't seem fazed by the applause they attracted, the big room, the big crowd or the big dollars everyone was talking about at the Tuesday kickoff of the 2013 United Way of Northeast Florida fundraising campaign. The big number is $15.6 million for the nonprofit's Community Impact Fund.

But all the kids knew was they were representing All Saints Early Learning and Community Care Center, which receives some of those United Way dollars.

They pedaled to the stage, each Big Wheel flying a flag with the logo of a company or organization that supports the United Way, and sat quietly by as adults talked.

Then they pedaled out to another round of applause.

They are what the United Way is all about, the adults said.

"The United Way is dedicated to building a stronger, healthier community ... [and] the pursuit of everyone's happiness," said speaker Parvez Ahmed, a University of North Florida professor and member of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. "Common aspirations transcend our differences."

The "Live United" T-shirts are not just for show.

"We don't just wear the shirts, we live it," said 2013 campaign chairman Arie "Chip" Vance, vice president and general manager of Enterprise Holdings. "We live united."

NEW APPROACH

This year's kickoff had a different approach than usual.

Instead of unveiling a multimillion-dollar overall fundraising goal, the United Way instead focused on a number that was smaller but could have a far greater impact. The 2013 goal is to raise $588,261 more than last year for the nonprofit's Community Impact Fund, which supports core programs to improve education, income and health.

Achieving that goal would mean raising $15.6 million for the Community Impact Fund, compared to the $15. …

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