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  • United Way of R.I. Commits $100 Million to Racial Equity and Opportunities for all Rhode Islanders

    United Way of Rhode Island has committed to invest $100 million over 5 years to build racial equity in Rhode Island and create justice and opportunities for all. The announcement accompanied the launch of LIVE UNITED 2025, the organization's new strategic plan and roadmap to transformational change.

    "This plan is intentional and focused so our investments make the biggest impact toward reversing the racial inequities holding back Rhode Island," said Cortney Nicolato, United Way's president and CEO. "Where we began developing our plan before the pandemic, COVID-19 reinforced the painful reminder of the work ahead and the disparities we must overcome."

    LIVE UNITED 2025 is the result of 20 months of significant community impact and built upon four pillars centered on racial equity. It focuses on advancing childhood reading proficiency and access to out-of-school programs for BIPOC youth, making housing affordable for all, advancing workforce development and adult education, altering policies that perpetuate racial inequities, and building nonprofit capacity.

    Specific goals include doubling the number of R.I. communities meeting the 10 percent affordable housing threshold; increase by 50 percent participation in out-of-school time learning in low income communities; invest $5 million in capacity-building for local nonprofits; and reduce by 25 percent the number of people of color underemployed and unemployed.

    "Housing is a fundamental right that remains out of reach for many Rhode Islanders. And this right intersects with every aspect of our lives – health, education and financial," said Michele Lederberg, United Way board chair and interim president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of R.I. "We may have been taught that all races are equal, but the data demonstrates that not everyone has been treated the same or afforded the same opportunities. This struggle has undermined our state's ability to thrive for too long."

    Through developing the plan and realizing support for it, United Way has received backing from major Rhode Island stakeholders across various sectors, further validating its importance. Brown University has committed $600,000 over 4 years, with others like Blue Cross & Blue Shield of R.I., CVS Health, Rhode Island AFL-CIO, state leadership, R.I. Dept. of Education, and more having signed on.

    In December 2020, United Way received $10 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to support its work outlined in LIVE UNITED 2025.

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