(SEATTLE) – United Way is pleased to announce Doug Baldwin Jr. as chair of the 2021-2022 fundraising campaign, which began on July 1.
“I have always tried to find opportunities to serve in creative and empathic ways. I’ve been encouraged by United Way’s effort in supporting people most impacted by the challenges facing our communities,” Baldwin said, acknowledging the economic and social impacts brought on by the coronavirus, which disproportionately impacts communities of color. “I’m really excited to support United Way by bringing people and businesses together in an effort to build up our community so more people have the opportunity to flourish.”
When the COVID-19 crisis hit the region, United Way quickly moved to provide rental assistance using the infrastructure of an existing program, Home Base, that was designed to help people avoid eviction. Since the pandemic began, Home Base has provided rental assistance to more than 12,000 households, more than 70% of which were led by people of color.
The funds raised by the organization’s Community Relief Fund in response to the pandemic have also focused on meeting the significant increase in hunger in the region, delivering culturally appropriate food to more than 6,100 households each week through a partnership with Door Dash and launching the Community Food Fund. Working with 27 community-based organizations led by or supporting people of color, the Community Food Fund has invested $1.7 million to provide food to Black-, Indigenous- and other person of color-led households in South King County.
“United Way was already on the ground working on challenges like helping people secure housing, combating food insecurity and addressing the lack of educational opportunity for students of color. They’ve been able to provide critical support, quickly, where it is needed most,” said Baldwin. “I am personally excited about how United Way has supported community and technical college students overcome challenges to stay in school and land a living wage career.”
United Way’s Bridge to Finish program helps community college students complete their studies by connecting them with on-campus and virtual supports like emergency financial grants, behavioral health services, access to food and other benefits. As federal rental assistance funds became available, United Way used existing Bridge to Finish infrastructure and developed new virtual tools to rapidly connect impacted students to up to 12 months of rental assistance and stabilize their housing. Over the past year the program has served 6,000 students, connecting them to more than 27,000 supports.
In his role as chair, Baldwin is being called on to help complete the third and final year of a Bridge to Finish $15 million fundraising campaign to sustain and expand the program.
“The needs are great right now for so many and it is critical to remember that this isn’t about numbers—we’re talking about people, about humans. Their skills and lived experiences are vitally needed in a society that is trying to solve the challenges we currently face and to mitigate challenges we will face in the future,” Baldwin said. “Everyone has a role to play in lifting each other up. We all should aim to treat our neighbors how we would want to be treated. And I am grateful for the chance to serve alongside United Way.”
Baldwin acknowledges he’s got big shoes to fill following last year’s campaign co-chairs Ethan Stowell and Steve Hooper, Jr., who launched a series of virtual cooking events featuring BIPOC restaurants and chefs called Eat, Drink & Be Generous. The events, which will continue throughout the coming year, are centered around celebrating community, good food and raising funds to support United Way’s programs.
“I’m really optimistic that in the coming months we’ll be able to have more opportunities to meet each other and gather in person,” he said. “While we wait for that to happen, United Way has made it easy to get involved, learn more about the issues and support the work. I think everyone who really wants to make a difference should join a United Way of King County giving community and get an inside view of the issues we’re facing and the people working to address them.”