High Point United Way looks ahead

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — United Way of Greater High Point raised $4.1 million in its 2005 annual drive, exceeding its goal by $10,000 and exceeding last year’s total by 3.5 percent.

This year, United Way aims to keep showing its community impact and serving as an active partner in community initiatives, says Bobby Smith, president.

“We certainly are going to continue to try to demonstrate United Way’s value-add and what we bring to the community besides just being a fundraiser,” he says.

United Way and High Point University, for example, are teaming up to provide a $5,000 annual scholarship, renewable for four straight years for a total of $20,000, for individuals actively involved in a local United Way partner agency as a volunteer or client.

That partnership, Smith says, aims to begin to help address a big challenge facing the city’s workforce.

A recent study on workforce preparedness by The Herman Group in Greensboro found that, as High Point diversifies its economy, future workers will need more than a high school education to find jobs, Smith says.

Chaired by Jeff Miller, president of High Point Regional Health System, the annual drive raised more than $4 million for the first time.

Early “pacesetter” workplace campaigns raised $1.47 million, up 15 percent from 2004.

Those include campaigns at the City of High Point, which raised over $237,000, and High Point University, which raised $80,000, more than double the total it raised in 2004.

Employees of TransTech Pharma gave $20,000 in the company’s first workplace campaign, a total matched dollar-for-dollar by the company.

The drive also raised just over $622,000 from 56 individuals giving $10,000 or more, and over $1.37 million from 627 individuals giving $1,000 or more.

And 15 to 20 employers used United Way’s online giving system to generate roughly $50,000 in donations.

After United Way decides this spring how to allocate to its partner agencies the dollars raised in the drive, Smith says, it will consider awarding some “venture” grants to help meet critical goals set last year by its community vision council.

Those goals include finding ways to ensure safe neighborhoods, thriving children and families, independent and self-sufficient people, and healthy people.

United Way this year also will help promote and support the annual food drive the second weekend in May sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.

Last year, that event collected 25,000 pounds of food, up from 15,000 pounds two years earlier, Smith says.

And for the third year, United Way is a partner with the High Point

Chamber of Commerce and Communities in Schools of High Point to recruit businesses, religious congregations and other groups to donate supplies to schools through the countywide Fill the Bus program.

United Way also will team up with Toys R Us for its holiday toy drive in July, and is a partner in the just-launched effort to create a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Guilford County.

And United Way has received a $17,480 grant from the Hayden-Harman Foundation to expand the GRAND Pals tutoring program to include Montlieu Elementary School in High Point.

Begun in 2003 at five elementary schools in Guilford County, the program provides structured, one-on-one tutoring that pairs second and third graders with trained tutors to improving reading skills and academic performance.

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