By Mark Graham
President and CEO, Tulsa Area United Way
For almost a century, the Tulsa Area United Way has provided sustainability funding for our region’s highest-performing nonprofit organizations.
Today, we fund 58 partner agencies in the areas of education, health/safety and financial stability.
However, in the last decade, our local United Way also has funded several community-wide responses to social challenges by establishing partnerships with nonprofit organizations (including non-partner agencies), business and industry, foundations and government and educational institutions, employing the collective impact model.
Last year, the United Way funded eight community collaborations at a total of nearly $1 million. Those collaborations included A Way Home for Tulsa, Anti-Bullying Coalition, Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and others.
We believe these collaborations are the best way to address certain challenges. Rarely can a single agency adequately address a community-wide issue by itself. In addition, cooperation enhances solutions for those in need and raises efficiency of agencies providing services. In short, we are more effective when we all work together.
A primary example of an effective community collaboration is A Way Home for Tulsa, and in particular, the Built for Zero initiative to end chronic homelessness. Since the program began in 2015, 765 individuals have received housing, including 587 veterans.
The program works to end homelessness on both sides of the issue – reaching out to individuals and families in need and increasing affordable housing options available to them.
Twenty-four agencies are participating in A Way Home for Tulsa, including the Community Service Council, which gathers data on the program’s success.
This is impressive progress that could not have been achieved by a single agency on its own. Working together – it’s one of our community’s greatest strengths.