United Way’s Big Investment

 United Way’s Big Investment

The United Way of Greater Cincinnati awarding more than $600,000 in grants to 30 black-led projects

Nearly 30 projects led by black entrepreneurs will soon receive more than $600,000 in grants from United Way of Greater Cincinnati to launch or strengthen anti-poverty initiatives.

The grants are being made under a United Way program called Black Empowerment Works, the first program designed by United Way’s Champions of Change, a group of local leaders focused on equitable outcomes in the community. United Way officials say the effort “invests in ideas, programs and projects that are Black-led, grassroots-generated and aimed at addressing poverty.”

The group awarded $600,544 to 29 black-led initiatives ranging from multimedia education for youth to workforce development centered on gardening and promoting healthy lifestyles. The focus areas included education, from early childhood to post-secondary; employment; financial stability, education and empowerment; health and community connectedness.

Grants ranged from $8,500 to $25,000. One of the grantees was the Easley Blessed Foundation, which received a $25,000 grant to provide multimedia education that helps people and businesses voice their stories.

“These are the seeds of something that will grow this community,” says owner Steven Easley. “When you invest in me, the return is so much greater because I am here, my kids go to school here, my wife goes to work here—I am invested in this community.”

Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, says the organization is committed to investing in ideas traditionally left out of other grant processes.

“We are addressing a systemic problem in philanthropy at a local level,” she says. “This is not something unique to United Way, but we are driven to address it.

“We have more that we can and will do to be a more equitable and inclusive organization,” Weir says “This is a step in the right direction. This is a part of an overall equity strategy.”