United Way Conversation Series: Ensuring All of Greenville County is Vibrant & Equitable
By Meghan Barp, President & CEO
From Travelers Rest to Fountain Inn, and from Greer to Greenville, we believe all communities should be safe, thriving and equitable — no matter their zip code. That’s why “Vibrant and Equitable Communities” is one of the three key focus areas of our Economic Mobility Model.
At United Way of Greenville County, we define Vibrant and Equitable Communities as ones in which neighborhoods are safe and well-connected, the nonprofit network is strong enough to meet community needs as they arise, and everyone has access to opportunities to achieve their full potential.
To realize that vision, the community must work collaboratively to improve conditions for all, policy and advocacy efforts must be centered around systems change that move individuals and families out of poverty, and our most vulnerable neighbors must have equitable access to resources that meet their basic needs.
Unfortunately, the great successes of Greenville County in economic development, growth and quality of life are not shared by all who live here. For every new apartment building or hotel across the skyline, there are thousands of families struggling to find a safe, affordable place to stay or keep up with rent.
In 2020 alone, United Way received more than 45,000 calls for help from our community, with the majority of the requests related to food, housing and utility assistance.
And much too often, there are significant along racial lines. Nearly a quarter of all Black children and more than 30 percent of Hispanic children live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, compared to less than 5 percent of white children.
It is estimated that 63,810 people in Greenville County are food insecure, lacking the resources to purchase (or having limited access to) adequate and safe food. Many of these people are minorities, and two-thirds are single parent families with young children.
United Way of Greenville County is working to address these inequities by investing in programs and initiatives that provide basic needs, mobilize community resources and advocate for systems change. We collaborate with partners across communities to understand their unique needs, addressing the barriers and challenges impacting marginalized and disconnected communities. Our goal? To make resources and services as accessible as possible.
This effort includes strategic investments in 24 proven local programs that support a collaborative nonprofit network and provide access to basic needs, as well as our award-winning AmeriCorps service program, the Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission, and grassroots initiatives like Greenville Dreams, Faith-Based Roundtable and more.
In this week’s edition of our conversation series, Long Branch Baptist Church Pastor Sean Dogan and Dr. Saria Saccocio of Proactive MD, both members of United Way’s Board of Directors, join me to for a deep dive on the importance of addressing and building equity in Greenville County. We talked about the challenges we face, building a more equitable community in the aftermath of COVID-19, and how it’s going to take all of us work together to make a difference.
We need your help to overcome poverty in Greenville County. When you support United Way, your gift creates economic opportunity for those who need it most.
Watch the whole conversation with Pastor Dogan and Dr. Saccocio below.
The challenges we face are complex. To solve them, we’ll need our community’s support more than ever before. Click here to learn more and get involved.