DETROIT, MI—March 14, 2016—Herman Gray, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, is on his way to Washington, D.C. At the invitation of Damian J. Thorman, director, Social Innovation Fund (SIF), Gray has been invited to play a special role at the SIF White House Forum as ambassador at-large to give the opening remarks. He will share compelling stories of how United Way for Southeastern Michigan is successfully utilizing SIF to change lives in Greater Detroit, and demonstrate the importance of the fund for nonprofits across the nation. The White House Forum will be held on Friday, March 18, 2016.
“It’s not every day that one is asked to speak at a White House Forum, so this is truly an honor,” says Herman Gray, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “As an iconic, long-standing community impact organization, it is important that United Way, through its partner organizations in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne, serve in real and meaningful ways. The SIF allows us to do that, and I am proud to carry that message to Washington.”
In 2011, United Way for Southeastern Michigan received $6 million in SIF funds. Those funds were used to impact the way children ages 0 to 5 are developmentally ready to learn in low income areas, where kindergarten readiness is less than 50 percent. That initial $6 million investment was matched by United Way and its agency partners three-to-one for a total of $18 million. As a result, United Way was able to expand its reach and impact even more children. United Way has evaluated and identified effective early childhood best practices using evidence-based methods with funded agency partners. That information is currently being published to create implementation training manuals so that these best practices can be replicated across Southeastern Michigan and beyond.
According to Gray, “In the nonprofit human services sector, we must live in that intersection of creativity, ingenuity and necessity. The SIF funding 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.”
Authorized by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in April of 2009, the Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency focused on improving lives, strengthening communities, and fostering civic engagement through service and volunteering. Together, service and innovation provide a vehicle to harness the power of ordinary people and unleash the potential of innovative ideas to help address our communities’ toughest social problems and transform lives.