Read our annual report

Our latest annual report highlights all the ways United Way continued to make an impact last year in Education, Economic Prosperity and Health throughout Southeastern Michigan. Whether you’re a donor, an advocate, a volunteer or a combination of the three, your support made all the difference. Thank you for all that you do to make our community stronger.

Click here to view the full report or read on to see the highlights.

Play and Learn

Our Education work focuses on kindergarten readiness, literacy, and college and career preparation. This work helps parents like Gina Vatalaro, who attended a Play and Learn group at a United Way ELC with her daughter, Cc, and said it helped prepare Cc for school.

“She’s already reading short stories, and it’s definitely because we started early education,” Gina said. “Play and Learn really is an opportunity for parents to open doorways into new worlds they might never have discovered.”

Play and Learn photo

More than 4,700 parents and caregivers took trainings and classes at our Early Learning Centers in 2017-18.

College and Career Pathways

For high schoolers, our College and Career Pathways programming helped pave the way toward a brighter future, providing technical training for the job market and skills required for a successful transition to college or vocational training.

During the 2017-18 school year, we operated 22 College and Career Pathways programs at 14 Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) high schools, serving more than 8,500 students. DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti announced in June 2018 that he plans to establish career academies at all district high schools.

“All children can do great and wonderful things, but that greatness and potential never is fulfilled unless children have access to a high-level, quality education,” Dr. Vitti said. “We have to stop talking about the potential of children and start actually delivering and actualizing that potential.”

Our College and Career Pathways team hosts multiple career fairs each school year.

Workforce Development

“Every day, we strive to help Southeastern Michigan residents learn skills to obtain better jobs and keep more of what they earn,” said Clarinda Barnett-Harrison, senior director of Economic Prosperity at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

Our financial empowerment work helped 31,947 people with tax prep, financial coaching, job training and more in 2017-18.

Access for All

Our Access for All program helps people train for a job in the construction trades industry.

Child Nutrition

It’s hard for children to learn on an empty stomach, and studies show that kids who aren’t hungry score higher on standardized tests and are less likely to miss school. An expansion of our alternative school breakfast model to 10 schools least year meant that 500 more students in our region ate a healthy breakfast at school this year. The program allows students to grab a quick, free breakfast on their way to class.

At Hazel Park High School, our efforts tripled the number of students eating a daily breakfast at school.

“We need to take care of all of students’ needs, and that includes nutritional needs,” said Hazel Park High School Principal Matthew Dailey. “If we can instill some of those good behaviors in students, this is going to have a positive ripple effect.”

Our commitment to ensuring children had access to nutritious food continued outside of school. We worked with Meet Up and Eat Up summer meal site partners, supplying grant funding, technical assistance and outreach. As a direct result, the number of children who received free meals grew by 13,346.

Meet Up and Eat Up

During the summer, children 18 and younger can receive free meals at hundreds of local Meet Up and Eat Up sites.

Basic Needs

Families can’t focus on their health if their basic needs aren’t met. Last year, we funded more than 50 partner agencies to deliver services that help meet people’s basic needs including: food, housing, mental health and substance abuse, and health care. Together with these agencies, we served a total of 140,000 individuals. We also connected people with safety net resources through our 2-1-1 helpline.

“If I hadn’t called 2-1-1, I wouldn’t know where to start,” Daisjona Whitson said. She was connected to a local shelter after being evicted. “I would have just been out on the street with my kids.”

That one phone call helped Daisjona get back on her feet. Today, she has a home of her own and a job on the other end of the helpline as a United Way 2-1-1 community care advocate.

United Way’s 2-1-1 connects families with thousands of resources, like free summer meals, educational programs and supports for income, child care and tax preparation. Last year, we also connected more than 17,500 with utility assistance through DTE Energy’s Low-income Self-sufficiency Plan.

“We’re proud to be the helpline for Southeastern Michigan,” said 2-1-1 Operations Director Kristen Bolds. “We’re always there to answer the call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

2-1-1 call center advocate

Our 2-1-1 team is there to answer the call every minute of every single day.


Our advocacy work helped improve health, nutrition and economic policies in 2017-18. We engaged thousands of partners, supporters and elected officials in these efforts and continue to drive toward meaningful systemic change that will make a difference locally.

In total, 643 people sent 1,067 letters, tweets and phone calls to local and federal elected officials throughout the year.

Policy team in Washington, D.C.

We joined the 2018 Anti-Hunger Policy Conference to advocate for policies that help families access healthy food.


Everyone has time, talents and expertise to give. That’s why volunteering is an important part of United Way’s work in the community.

Last year saw the continued growth of our online volunteer portal, with more than 2,763 individuals using the tool to connect with meaningful volunteer experiences. Our volunteers made their impact felt year-round. A total of 8,733 volunteers gave more than 16,400 hours of their time in 2017-18.

Volunteers packing kits

Our volunteers donated 16,400 hours of their time.

Thank you

It wouldn’t be possible without you. Thank you for your support of United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Together, we’ll make next year even better.