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The Impact We've Achieved Together in 2023

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John Wilgers


Once again, the holidays are here — offering a time for gratitude as we reflect on the year that's passed, and renewing our determination for the year to come. When I consider the impact that Greater Twin Cities United Way has achieved over the last year, I am certain that none of this work could be accomplished without the partnership of changemakers throughout our region.

To every person who has supported our vision of change — as a donor, corporate partner, advocate, nonprofit partner or volunteer — thank you.

Here are just a few highlights of the impact you helped build.

Change at the Capitol

We kicked off 2023 with one of the most consequential legislative sessions in recent memory – drawing on our wide network of community partners and the legislative savvy of our advocacy team to advance meaningful policy shifts around our priority issues.

Some of the big wins for community we celebrated in the first half of the year include:

  • A historic $2 billion investment in early child care and education, providing new support for both families and child care professionals;
  • A similarly unprecedented $1 billion investment in affordable housing and homelessness response; and
  • Significant shifts in public benefits eligibility to reduce the impact of the “benefits cliff” and ensure families have continued household stability.

In addition to these successful policy shifts, we were gratified to receive a $1 million appropriation for our Career Academies initiative, supporting training and partner grants to support new career pathways for students in our state.

Innovation in Homelessness Prevention

This year also saw a deepening of our commitment to innovation and systems change, showcased via our launch of Pathways Home in June.

Pathways Home is unique in that it focuses on preventing, rather than responding to, homelessness, specifically for youth transitioning from incarceration or the foster system – two points of transition that, research shows, pose significant risks for a young person’s housing stability.

In our first year, Pathways Home granted $1.2 million to 11 nonprofit organizations throughout the Greater Twin Cities region – in addition to training and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to enable deeper collaboration among experts in the field. Our first cohort of nonprofits will run for 18 months, concluding at the end of 2024.

In partnership with Wells Fargo – an early supporter of Pathways Home – our team continued the momentum this fall, bringing together donors and community partners to raise awareness of the importance of preventing homelessness.

Read more from Pathways Home program officer Ahmed Sirleaf about why stable housing matters.

Volunteers Unite for Action Day

Action Day is always a highlight of my year. Every August, United Way brings together thousands of community volunteers and nonprofit partners – working in collaboration with our Minnesota professional sports teams – to support kids heading back to school.

For Action Day 2023 at Target Field, we were proud to unite our biggest-ever network of changemakers – including 1,500 volunteers, nearly 40 corporate partners and more than 100 nonprofits – to make a positive impact for kids. Our Action Day supporters came together to provide backpacks and school supplies for more than 40,000 young people in the Greater Twin Cities region.

Action Day is only one example of the impact we’ve made through volunteering and corporate partnerships this year:

  • In March, we led the third year of Flavors of Our Community, packing more than 13,000 culturally specific pantry packs for families experiencing food insecurity.
  • Continuing through December 6, our Home for Good initiative is packing 700 Welcome Home Bins for families transitioning from homelessness to stable housing.

A Local Lifeline

This year, we continued our partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Greater Twin Cities United Way operates 988’s Twin Cities call center – the largest 988 call center in the state of Minnesota.

Beginning in September, our team deepened our collaboration with MDH via the launch of a new 988 public awareness campaign. You may have already seen one of these ads; our billboards are visible along several Twin Cities highways, and our team is rolling out new 988 messages across TikTok, Instagram and other high-visibility digital channels.

This is a new and exciting space for Greater Twin Cities United Way, extending the reach of 988 to ensure that all community members know how to access these life-saving services.

Looking Ahead to 2024

Thank you for being a part of the changemaker movement this year. I hope you and your loved ones have a joyous and restful holiday season, and I look forward to the impact we’ll make together in 2024.

About the Author

John Wilgers is the President and CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way. A passionate community advocate for more than 10 years, John has served in several United Way roles, including board chair, member of the executive committee of the board, volunteer, fundraiser and donor. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Kansas.

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