What’s the Word Wednesdays with United Way

Join us for live conversations on topics that affect your life

Join us every week for What’s the Word Wednesday — United Way’s live virtual town halls. Every week, experts will share updates on important topics like unemployment, utility assistance, child care, education and more, and answer your questions live.

This series also includes live town halls on equity issues, including equity in child care, business, criminal justice and updates from government and nonprofit equity organizations and task forces.

Watch live via Zoom or Facebook every Wednesday at 10 a.m.


Upcoming Town Halls

Weekly at 10 a.m.

Dec. 1: Housing resources for homeowners: Wayne Metro Community Action Agency joins us to talk about resources available to homeowners who may be struggling to afford their bills or at risk of foreclosure.
Join via Zoom
Join via Facebook Live

Dec. 8: Navigating difficult conversations around COVID-19

Dec. 15: Mental health and addiction

Have a question or want to suggest a topic? Email LiveUnited@UnitedWaySEM.org.

Past Town Halls

Watch recordings and find resource lists from past Virtual Town Halls.

Nov. 17: Celebrating Trans Awareness Week: Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth: Mark Erwin and Lilianna Reyes from the Ruth Ellis Center join us to talk about their work supporting LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, and how you can support them.

Nov. 10: Resources for Veterans: In recognition of Veterans Day, Ryan Engle from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency joins us to share resources for veterans and updates on programs.

Nov. 3: Holiday Volunteerism: Learn how to find volunteer opportunities that fit your needs and schedule through our Volunteer Portal, and hear from Focus: HOPE about ways you can give back as a volunteer this winter.

Oct. 27: Michigan Works! Updates: Jennifer Llewellyn, director of Oakland County Michigan Works! and the Manager of Workforce Development at Oakland County, will join us to share updates on workforce programs available to job-seekers.

Oct. 20: Resources and Programs for Disabled Individuals: Lori Hill-Sanders, executive director of the Disability Network of Wayne County – Detroit, will join us to talk about resources available to people with disabilities and highlight their work in this area.

Oct. 13: Supporting Afghan Refugees with Samaritas: Samaritas will join us to share information and resources on how we can support Afghan refugees.

Oct. 6: Mental Health and Wellness: Prioritizing Self-Care During COVID-19: Dr. Krystle Woods will join us to talk about mental health awareness, resources and more.

Sept. 29: Updates on the MEAP program: Sean Scane, MEAP project manager at United Way, will join us to share updates on our utility assistance program before enrollment opens this fall.

Sept. 22: Latine Equity in the Labor Movement: The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement will join us for this Latin and Hispanic Heritage Month town hall.

Sept. 15: Centering Community Voice: Why Your Story is Important to Grant-making: Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team will join us to talk about our partnerships with equity-focused organizations, and Detroit Future City will share why your story is important in grant-making.

Sept. 8: Emergency Rental Assistance: Updates on the CERA Program: Michael Centi, department director of integration at Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, joins us to talk about the latest information renters need to know when facing eviction.
Download the PowerPoint presentation

Aug. 25: Run United Virtual Marathon: Join United Way to learn about getting involved in our upcoming virtual marathon Sept. 15-Oct. 17, and how you can turn your miles into support for students in our community!

Aug. 18: Back-to-School Health and Safety – What Parents Need to Know: A conversation about COVID-19 safety and new recommendations from the Detroit Health Department.

Aug. 11: Learn about redistricting and your important role in it with the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Click here to view and download the presentation slides.

Aug. 4: FEMA Flood Recovery Resources: A speaker from FEMA joins us to walk through how individuals affected by flooding in Wayne and Washtenaw counties can apply for assistance.

July 28: Connect313 Updates: Accessing the Emergency Broadband Benefit: Joshua Edmonds, Director of Digital Inclusion for the City of Detroit, joins us to share news about the Connect313 coalition, and how families can access discounted internet and devices through the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

July 21: How to Combat Ableism and Be a Disability Rights Ally: Dessa Cosma, executive director of Detroit Disability Power, joins us as we recognize the anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act to talk about how to recognize and combat ableism.

July 14: Voter Rights Updates: What to Know Before You Vote: Merissa Kovach, policy analyst for the ACLU of Michigan, joins us to share updates on voter rights, including recent and proposed legislative changes.

June 23: Exploring the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre: Journalist Phil Lewis joins us to share his research and learnings about the Tulsa Massacre.

June 16: Child Tax Credit: What It Is and How to Get It: Matt Heatherwick, director of individual tax programs at Accounting Aid Society, joins us to talk about how families can make sure they receive the new Child Tax Credit starting in July. Click here to view and download the presentation. slides.

June 9: Meet up and Eat Up Summer 2021 Updates: Gleaners and the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department join us to give updates and answer questions about how families can access free summer meals for youth.

June 2: Equity in the LGBTQIA+ Community: As we begin celebrating Pride Month, Affirmations joins us to talk about their work in the LGBTQA+ community and how you can get involved.

May 26: COVID-19 vaccination updates: MSU Associate Dean for Public Health Integration and Director of the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions Debra Furr-Holden, Ph.D. joins us to give updates on the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and safety and talk about dispelling vaccine myths.

May 19: The 21-Day Equity Challenge: United Way’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team shares updates on our upcoming Equity Challenge, kicking off May 21.

May 12: Finding Summer Programs for Youth: Sara Plachta Elliott of Detroit’s Youth Development Resource Center joins us with updates on Discover Your Spark, a program for finding after-school and summer enrichment programs for kids.

May 5, 10 a.m.: Eviction Protection and the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) Program: Michael Centi from Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and Kelli Rose from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services join us to share details about new programs to protect renters.

April 28, 10 a.m.: Workplace Safety During COVID-19: Sean Egan, director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety at Michigan LEO, joins us on Workers Memorial Day to talk about workplace safety measures.

April 21: Equity in the Arab American Community: Rana Abbas-Taylor, director of communications and marketing at ACCESS, joins us to talk about the organization’s work to drive progress in racial equity and social justice in and for the Arab American community.

April 14: Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Resources for Survivors: Shelby Nardone, prevention education specialist and Survivor Speakers Bureau coordinator at HAVEN, joins us to share resources for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, plus information about consent.

April 7: Communities of Interest: Why and How to Get Involved With Redistricting: Rebeka Islam, executive director at APIAVote, joins us to talk about the work APIAVote is doing around the issue of political redistricting.

March 31: Mi Reconnect: Get Your Degree Tuition-Free: Kerry Ebersole, senior advisor and director of the Sixty by 30 Office in Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, joined us to talk about how you can apply for tuition-free college through Michigan Reconnect.

March 24: Early Literacy: Why It’s Important to Bring Diverse Stories to Your Children and How to Talk About Them: United Way Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Specialist Ashley Hart joined us for a March is Reading Month conversation on teaching kids about diversity through books.

March 10: Filing Your Taxes: Everything You Need to Know: Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency share information about free tax preparation help available to Metro Detroiters, as well as what you need to know about available tax credits.

March 3: Adult Literacy: Making Reading Accessible for All: Lisa Machesky, executive director of the Oakland County Literacy Council, joins us to discuss how the literacy council and other partners are working to help increase adult literacy.

Feb. 24, 10 a.m.: Returning to In-Person Learning: A conversation with Kyle Guerrant, deputy superintendent with the Michigan Department of Education, on safety, regulations and plans for the reopening of schools for in-person learning.

Feb. 17: Michigan Poverty Task Force Update : A conversation with Kim Trent, deputy director – prosperity, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

Feb. 10, 10 a.m.: Child Care Updates: Safety, Eligibility, Virtual Opportunities and more: As many parents explore their options for putting their children back in child care in 2021, join us for a conversation with Starfish Family Services and Wayne RESA for updates on child care openings and safety.

Feb. 3: COVID-19 Vaccine – Your Questions Answered: A conversation with Henry Ford Health System on the new COVID-19 vaccines, including answers about safety and creation of vaccines.

Jan. 27: Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan’s New Resource Center: CCSM shares details about services available at their new resource center, Centers for the Works of Mercy.

Jan. 20: Unemployment updates: A conversation with the State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on updates to state and federal unemployment benefits available to Michigan residents.
Download the presentation slides

Jan. 13: Equity in Criminal Justice Reform: A conversation with Safe and Just Michigan on recent and upcoming state criminal justice legislation.

Jan. 6: What to Expect in 2021 Legislation: A conversation with the Michigan League for Public Policy on upcoming state and federal legislation.

Dec. 16: Renters’ Rights: Housing and Eviction Resources During COVID-19: Joe McGuire, staff attorney with the Detroit Justice Center, discusses the rights of homeowners and renters, and what options people have for support if the federal eviction moratorium ends in January.

Dec 9: Equity in Business: How to Support Minority Small Businesses: Dr. Kenneth Harris, President and CEO of the National Business League, joins us to discuss what we can do to support minority-owned businesses this holiday season and beyond.

Dec. 2: COVID-19 Update: How to stay safe during the holidays: Join United Way and Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services senior public health physician, for an important update on COVID-19 as we head into the holiday season.

Nov. 25: Equity in Black Maternal Health: Join us for the next installment in our Equity Series as we talk with Nkenge Browner, organizing director with Mothering Justice; and Shanayl Reed, a doula and community health worker with Henry Ford Hospital.

Nov. 18: Michigan Energy Assistance Program: Join us for a conversation around options for utility assistance, as well as advice for those looking to apply.

Nov. 11: Veterans’ Resources: Ryan Engle, partnership coordinator with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, joins us for this Veterans Day discussion on benefits and resources available to Michigan veterans.

Oct. 28 – Election Protection: Melanie McElroy with the nonpartisan civic engagement organization Michigan Voice discusses voters’ rights and Election Day safety.

Oct. 21 – Futures for Frontliners: Ava Attari, data & policy fellow for the University of Michigan’s Youth Policy Lab, placed with Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity; and Erica Luce, manager, Office of Adult Education, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity – Workforce Development join us to discuss this new program for frontline workers in Michigan.
Click here to view/download presentation slides
Questions? Email MiStudentAid@michigan.gov for questions about the community college path; LEO-AdultEd@Michigan.gov for the high school completion path

Oct. 14 – Helping Children Cope with Stress: Dr. Christopher Trentacosta, associate professor in psychology at Wayne State University, joins us to discuss how we can help our children through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Oct. 7: – Equity in Education Funding: Mary Grech, senior data and policy analyst with Education Trust Midwest, joins us for this continuation in our series of discussions around equity and inclusion.

Sept. 30: A Conversation with the Michigan Women’s Commission: Shannon Garrett, chief strategy officer for the Michigan Women’s Commission, discusses gender equity, child care and more.

Sept. 23: Be Counted Michigan – A Virtual Town Hall Census 2020: Joan Gustafson, external affairs officer with the Michigan Nonprofit Association, discusses the importance of being counted in the 2020 census.

Sept. 16: Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II
As part of United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s increased focus on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, we were proud to welcome Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist to our Sept. 16 virtual town hall. This was the first in a series of equity-focused town halls to take place once a month as a part of the weekly virtual town hall schedule. The lieutenant governor discussed the work of the Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, which he chairs.

Sept. 9: Resources for Parents and Students with Disabilities – A Back to School Virtual Town Hall with Michelle Driscoll, policy coordinator for Michigan Alliance for Families

Aug. 26: Connect4Care Kids – A new resource for families in Detroit seeking child care, featuring United Way staff Jeff Miles, senior director, Center for Early Childhood Excellence, and Delonda McCullum, Virtual Children’s Health Program/Connect4Care specialist, Social Innovation Fund

Aug. 19: Closing the Digital Divide – A Virtual Town Hall with Connect 313 featuring Joshua Edmonds, Director of Digital Inclusion for the City of Detroit

July 31: Discover Your Spark – a Virtual Town Hall on Out-of-School Programs for Youth with Sara Plachta Elliott, executive director of the Youth Development Resource Center

July 22: Voting Safely in 2020 – a Virtual Town Hall with Assistant Secretary of State Heaster Wheeler

July 1: Supports for Older Adults with Area Agency on Aging 1-B

June 24: Getting Back to Work with Michigan Works!

June 16: Oakland County COVID-19 response

June 10: Be Counted: 2020 Census

June 5: Child Care

May 27: Mental Health

May 22: Stimulus Payment and Filing Your Taxes

Download virtual VITA tax assistance information

May 20: Utility and Water Assistance

May 15: Accessing Food Assistance

May 8: Unemployment Insurance

Read unemployment FAQs