United Way Finds Innovative Way to Help Foster Youth Through COVID-19

Citing the profound needs of local foster youth during the COVID-19 crisis, United Way California Capital Region has created a way for the 400 women who were supposed to gather for today’s Women United Luncheon to instead support local foster youth through United Way’s social media channels. From videos of local leaders and former foster youth to important facts and inspiring messages, participants can join in celebrating the accomplishments of Sacramento area foster youth, while meeting their most pressing needs during this health crisis so they can succeed in college and career. Local foster youth who were set to perform in a fashion show of their career outfits sponsored by guests – a favorite among longtime luncheon guests – have created a video in its place.

Participants can join the virtual Women United Luncheon on United Way’s social media channels: Facebook.com/UnitedWayCCR, Twitter.com/unitedwayccr, Instagram.com/unitedwayccr and LinkedIn.com/company/unitedwayccr.

“We are profoundly grateful to the vast majority of our sponsors and ticketholders who recognize that foster youth needs continue as we battle COVID-19, and therefore converted their sponsorships and ticket costs to donations, “ said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Our United Way will take the magic of a room filled with hundreds of women and make just as big of an impact online. This virtual event will showcase the foster youth who are benefiting from the support of women across our region through our Women United action group. We hope that our supporters and friends will be inspired and uplifted by these young people during these challenging times.”

United Way’s 18th Annual Women United Luncheon was scheduled to be held today at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, but was converted to an online event after the statewide shelter-in-place directive took effect. United Way’s Women United action group will discuss its history working with local foster youth, highlight its policy work resulting from United Way’s Foster Youth Summit held last spring and offer opportunities to join United Way’s Women United action group.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Announces Foster Youth Summit in April

United Way is gathering foster youth and community leaders working on foster care issues for its inaugural Foster Youth Summit on April 5 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Sacramento State Ballroom, 6000 J Street. The summit will identify opportunities to increase the number of foster youth who graduate from high school and go on to complete post-secondary education. Summit findings will be released as a report that will determine the direction of United Way’s foster youth programs. For more information and to sign up: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/FosterYouthSummit.

Stephanie Bray, president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region, announced the summit to 300 supporters at United Way’s 17th Annual Women United Luncheon on March 21. More than $78,000 was raised through the luncheon for United Way’s programs that are preparing foster youth for success in college and career. Since 2002, United Way’s Women United action group has raised more than $2 million for programs for local foster youth.

“It’s time to take our work to the next level,” Bray said at the luncheon. “For far too long, we have talked about the drop-out and homelessness rates for foster youth. We know that no one person or organization can do this alone. So we are convening a public forum to discuss how we move the needle on high school graduation and college or career attainment for foster youth so that fewer struggle as they transition into adulthood.”

Nonprofit service providers, state and county foster youth advocates, school districts, foster youth and other supporters will come together for a deep dive into community level data, a foster youth panel on real-world implications of the data, breakout sessions and a keynote speech by Jennifer Rodriguez, JD, executive director of Youth Law Center and a former foster youth.

At the luncheon, Bray cited a 2018 Annie E. Casey Foundation report that noted without any support, California foster youth drop out of high school at a rate of 24 percent, 30 percent do not have stable housing and 51 percent are unemployed.

“That is so much lost potential,” Bray said. “We at United Way believe that every child, including each foster youth, has the opportunity to achieve. Imagine the impact if we don’t invest in our foster youth’s potential.”

Bray referred to luncheon keynote speaker September Hargrove as an example of how foster youth achieve success, not only for themselves but for communities across the country. Hargrove, a former Sacramento foster youth who volunteered with United Way a decade ago, is now VP of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., leading the company’s $150 million commitment to Detroit through neighborhood revitalization, small business, financial capability and workforce development.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Women United Luncheon to Raise Funds for Local Foster Youth

Women across the region will gather for a spring-themed luncheon to celebrate and raise funds for local foster youth at United Way’s 17th Annual Women United Luncheon from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on March 21 at the Sheraton Grand, 1230 J Street, Sacramento. The event will feature a heartfelt program with personal stories from foster youth, successes from United Way’s programs and a fashion show with local foster youth. To purchase tickets or become a sponsor: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Luncheon.

“For the last 17 years, our United Way has brought women together to help change kids’ lives,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This year’s luncheon will bring together women from across our region to raise funds for local foster youth as part of our Square One Project. Together, we are investing in the potential of kids in the Sacramento region so that they graduate from high school prepared for success in college and career. Foster youth in our community deserve the same investment, and our Women United action group is providing the tools those young people need to realize their potential.”

Keynote speaker will be September Hargrove, a former foster youth in United Way’s program who spoke at the Women United Luncheon 11 years ago and is now vice president and program officer for global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase in Detroit. She is responsible for leading the firm’s $150 million commitment to Detroit across the firm’s priority areas: neighborhood revitalization, small business, financial capability and workforce development.

Hargrove grew up in foster care, separated from her five younger brothers, and graduated from Grant Union High School in Sacramento. She received her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and returned to Sacramento to volunteer in a leadership capacity with United Way, among other organizations. She then attended Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government where she received her master’s degree in public policy and urban planning. Prior to her work with JPMorgan Chase, Hargrove was a White House Fellow with the National Economic Council and a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Obama administration, chief operating officer for the New Orleans Startup Fund and an economic development program manager for former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. She began her career as a California Senate Fellow and gubernatorial appointee under former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“September is an incredible example of how foster youth here in the Sacramento area have the potential to make a difference on a national scale for people in underserved communities,” Bray said.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.