How Can Philanthropists Drive Transformational Community Change?
United Way of Olmsted County (UWOC) is a community change organization that unites people and resources to improve lives in our community. We fight for the health, education, and financial stability of all.
Between 2021 and 2023, we implemented a participatory grantmaking process to give Black and African American community members in Olmsted County the space to determine how best to invest in their community. The African American community both has high levels of grassroots engagement and energy and faces a history of marginalization and under-investment from “mainstream” (white-led, BIPOC-serving) organizations. These latter factors have created particularly high barriers to building wealth.
Through this process, United Way gained many insights about how we can be a better partner and drive transformational community change. These include:
- Putting our money where our mouth is to continue our move beyond verbal commitments to equity and into action;
- Engaging in a participatory grantmaking process that compels us to think differently, build genuine trust, and hand over our power; and
- Supporting our partners beyond the check to ensure their long-term strength and success.
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United Way of Olmsted County (UWOC) is a community change organization with the mission to unite people and resources to improve lives in our community. We fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community in a variety of ways: we collaborate with local organizations, businesses, and community leaders to mobilize their expertise and resources; we accelerate impact by strengthening systems and cultivating leaders to build a community where all people can thrive, regardless of race or place; and we participate in a collective effort that empowers local residents to create lasting transformations in their own communities through our focus on community-driven change.