LANSING, Mich. — Three United Way offices merged last week to create the United Way of South Central Michigan. They are hoping to strengthen the organization’s impact in mid-Michigan.
The Capital Area United Way, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and the United Way of Jackson County have partnered to serve six counties: Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Jackson and Kalamazoo.
The decision to merge came after a two-year, in-depth evaluation of the potential benefits a merger could bring.
"What the merger allows us to do is have a single administration that can be most efficient in terms of operations, while still maintaining our local offices, local fundraising, and local investments in nonprofits and programs and services," President and CEO of the United Way of South Central Michigan Chris Sargent said.
The United Way of South Central Michigan has a 60-member staff, and a 36-member board of directors.
Sargent led the merger of the United Ways of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo back in 2012 and has served as its president since then.
"As president of the organization, my goal is really going to be to set the vision and and the strategy with our team and our community partners, to positively impact vulnerable children and families in our community," Sargent said. "The ALICE report that just came out this week—a new one—focused on children and the state of children in our community, in our region, across Michigan."
ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed—the population the United Way aims to serve.
"A million kids—nearly 50 percent of children in our households and families across Michigan—are below the ALICE threshold," Sargent said. "That means they're living in households that are struggling to make ends meet week-to-week, month-to-month. Our United Way is going to have strong core values of equity, and focused around helping those children succeed and thrive...by ensuring that their basic needs are met so that they're not hungry, they have an affordable place to live and call home."
Sargent said existing partnerships, investments and goals at the local level won’t change due to the merger, and local donations will still only be used locally.
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