United Way CEO to speak at White House forum on preschool prep

Monday, March 14, 2016

Editor’s note: This article initially appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business.

Herman Gray, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan will be in Washington, D.C., on Friday to speak on the Detroit-based agency’s use of Social Innovation Fund support in Southeast Michigan.

Gray was invited by the fund’s director to give the opening remarks at the White House forum.

He plans to share stories of how United Way is successfully utilizing Social Innovation Fund support to change lives in here in metro Detroit and also demonstrate the importance of the fund for nonprofits across the nation.

The Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corp. for National and Community Service, a federal agency focused on improving lives, strengthening communities and fostering civic engagement through service and volunteering.

In 2011, United Way for Southeastern Michigan received $6 million dollars in support from the fund. It matched that amount and leveraged another $6 million to put a total of $18 million behind efforts to help improve the developmental readiness of low-income children up to 5 years old in areas where readiness had been less than 50 percent.

United way said it evaluated best practices, using evidence-based methods, and together with funded nonprofit agencies, identified the most effective early childhood practices to help increase preschool developmental readiness.
It’s currently publishing that information to create training manuals so that these best practices can be replicated across Southeastern Michigan and beyond.

“In the nonprofit human services sector, we must live in that intersection of creativity, ingenuity and necessity,” Gray said in a release.

The Social Innovation Fund grant “has helped bring a higher level of discipline with the use of outcomes-driven data, and we are even better equipped to do work that makes long-term community-wide change.”