Arise Project advocates broke new ground and made history last week by raising over $100,000—the largest impact ever created by Arise donors at a single event. All thanks to two very special Greater Twin Cities United Way donors with a special appearance by Mortimer the Pig (yes, really).
Since 2011, United Way Arise Project has invested over $1 million in efforts to end homeless for LGBTQ youth in the Twin Cities. Despite being the largest single investor in LGBTQ youth in Minnesota, Arise’s goals are ambitious: to provide grants to every single agency in the Twin Cities that serves homeless youth and wants to create LGBTQ-inclusive programs and services.
Enter: Larry Dunivan and David Gibson (pictured right), two upstanding heroes and longtime United Way supporters. Last year, Larry and David stepped up during our first-ever Arise Challenge Grant, dedicating $20,000 alongside a $50,000 gift from Dan Poorman, one of Arise Project’s founding donors.
Fast forward to 2018 and Larry and David created their own $25,000 challenge aimed at inspiring new supporters (along with a personal donation of an additional $25,000!). On Sept. 20, they opened their home for An Evening with Arise Project. This very special event provided a chance for LGBTQ advocates and allies to learn about Arise Project directly from Community Impact Program Manager Sam Blackwell and Arise Committee Member Kirstan Clow (pictured left), who has worked for various agencies supported by Arise and United Way.
Together, friends and heroes connected to the hosts and to our Arise Committee created huge momentum: $101,000 raised from a single event!
These results will create a huge boost for Arise Projects 2019 grants. Based on our past impact, we know that $100,000 will create at least 50 new housing opportunities for young LGBTQ neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. As you can imagine, the ripple affects of this work are huge. Our work creates stability for an individual, who can then go on to build hope and prosperity in their lives.
In a very special twist, we were joined by Mortimer the Pig. This wrought-iron fellah belongs to the family of Sareen Dunleavy Keenan, who oversees United Way’s Career Academies investments. Sareen’s children regularly pool their good-deed money (collected inside Mortimer) and collectively donate those funds to various charities chosen by the children.
Together, Sareen’s 6-, 8-, 10-, and 11-year-olds discussed where to make an impact this quarter. The discussion included a passionate speech by Róisín, 9, at the dinner table. Róisín is open and enthusiastic about the love and support he gets at home as a trans-youth, and wants to be sure the youth in this community are seen and supported as they experience homelessness.
Mortimer and the Dunleavy Keenan family helped push us over the edge with a fantastic $250 family contribution, all driven by the love and passion of one of Minnesota’s youngest philanthropists. Thank you, Dunleavy Keenans!
We want to give a special thank you to a few founding members of Arise Project who made very special gifts: Kittie Fahey, VP of Principal Gifts here at United Way; Dan Poorman, a local business owner who spurred us to create this style of event because of his significant investment in 2017; and Chad Brown (former VP of Foundation Relations at United Way) and his husband Monty Smith, who continue their legacy of supporting Arise from their new home on the East Coast.
If you’d like to contribute to this year’s Arise Project Challenge, there’s still time to do so. Donate here before the end of September. All funds raised will be awarded to community partners through innovation grants in 2019.
Jeff Moores is Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Giving Communities Manager. In this role, he is responsible for volunteer engagement and growth of our affinity groups Arise Project and Emerging Leaders, as well as other corporate relationships with United Way workplace partners.