From fundraising and grant making, to convening and advocating, it has been a busy yet fulfilling year at United Way of Central Carolinas. As we look forward to the New Year, we thank our community for joining us in the fight for the well-being of every person across the Charlotte region.


Here are a few of our 2020 highlights and biggest impact moments propelling us into 2021:





United Way of Central Carolinas played a crucial role in emergency relief during the coronavirus pandemic with the COVID-19 Response Fund, launched in partnership with Foundation For The Carolinas. In the unique partnership, United Way and Foundation For The Carolinas employed their joint expertise to raise funds, assess needs and distribute grants to nonprofits beginning in March amidst North Carolina’s economic shutdown.


The community responded to the call for help, with more than 1,100 donors contributing $23.6 million throughout the year to the COVID-19 Response Fund to support Mecklenburg County agencies. United Way and Foundation For The Carolinas partnered to launch a similar fund in March to support Cabarrus County agencies. The two organizations also worked with United Way of Iredell County to implement a fund in April to assist Iredell County agencies.


Designated gifts from corporate partners and additional public donations also began assisting agencies in May within Anson and Union counties—part of United Way of Central Carolinas’ five-county footprint. Across the Charlotte region, more than 500 grants from the COVID-19 response funds flowed to agencies on the frontlines based on decisions made by special grants committees of community leaders.


Read more about United Way’s COVID-19 response here.





In an especially challenging year for the community as a result of the public health and economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, United Way of Central Carolinas is proudly investing $21.7 million into communities across the Charlotte region.


This investment includes grants to more than 100 nonprofits whose missions closely align with United Way’s community impact strategy to build stronger neighborhoods, improve racial equity, boost economic mobility and help people meet their basic needs. Through the generous support from individuals, corporations and local government, the investment includes $10.7 million in partner funding for 119 agencies—with 36 new United Way grantees.


Also included in this investment is $9.2 million in grants made from the COVID-19 Response Fund this fiscal year; $1.7 million in additional United Way community investments and donor-directed funding; and a $1 million contribution from Mecklenburg County to expand United Way’s Unite Charlotte program aimed at improving racial equity through grants to grassroots organizations led by people of color.


Read more about United Way’s latest community investment here.





United Way of Central Carolinas leads conversations, leverages community voices and brings the right parties together to address complex economic challenges and social disparities facing individuals, families and communities across the Charlotte region. Our partnerships allow us to take on growing needs brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and collaborate to find innovative ways to continue serving our community.


Focusing on education as part of our mission, United Way has been facilitating virtual meetings between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and local nonprofits—Belk Foundation, Read Charlotte and Foundation For The Carolinas—to better connect and organize shared efforts that support educators, students and families during this unique school year.


United Way of Central Carolinas President and CEO Laura Yates Clark and leaders from our Community Impact team have hosted bi-weekly virtual conversations with more than 200 registered participants. Discussions focus on the evolving needs of schools adjusting to remote learning environments and students’ access to technology to bridge the digital divide in our community, as well as other education-related topics.


Read more about United Way’s recent community collaboration here.





United Way of Central Carolinas’ fight for the education, health and financial stability of every person in our community is inseparable from the fight for racial equity—made clear through COVID-19’s disparate health and economic impact on communities of color.


An honest and comprehensive response to current and generational crises requires that we raise our voices, educate ourselves and do what is necessary to dismantle systemic racism and reverse policies that oppress people of color. As a community leader, convener and advocate, United Way is ready and willing to listen, learn and do the hard work that is required to address the power imbalances that exist as part of systemic racism.


Through the United Way Learning Network, our organization hosted a three-part virtual Racial Equity for Nonprofit Board Members Workshop to help leaders learn, inspire conversation and fuel change in the racial equity space. The learning opportunity was sponsored in partnership with TIAA and presented by subject-matter experts Andi Stevenson, nonprofit consultant with Stevenson Wallace, LLC, and Derrik Anderson, executive director of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice.


As part of our commitment to advancing racial equity, United Way has announced a community-wide virtual Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge. Beginning on January 18, 2021, the activity takes participants on a 21-day learning journey that aims to help develop more effective social justice habits around issues of race, power, privilege and leadership. Through the Challenge, United Way hopes to build understanding, strengthen partnerships, and help launch a lifelong commitment to improving equity and dismantling systemic racism in our community.


Read more about United Way’s Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge and sign up here.





Staying true to its role as a thought leader in the community, United Way of Central Carolinas showcased its innovation and equity work through a special case study on our Unite Charlotte program.


In 2016, United Way founded Unite Charlotte, an initiative to support grassroots organizations whose programs align with United Way’s goals of promoting racial equity and economic mobility. Unite Charlotte is a funding approach meant to stabilize and grow new and/or early-stage nonprofits and address the structural racism present in philanthropy. The program makes one-year grant awards averaging $5,000 to $25,000 to Mecklenburg County organizations with budgets under $250,000 that are focused on advancing racial equity and economic mobility.


In 2021, Unite Charlotte is expanding to offer a two-tiered system of grants. Unite Charlotte I pairs funding with capacity-building training and technical assistance. Unite Charlotte II invites previous Unite Charlotte organizations to increase their leadership capacity and prepares organizations to compete for larger grants from United Way or other funders.


Read more about United Way’s Unite Charlotte program here.