For more than a decade, Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has strived to bring more young people into philanthropy by establishing fellowships at foundations and nonprofits. One of our most recently-established fellowship programs is the United Way Bay Area Philanthropy Fellow on Fighting Poverty, in which a graduate student from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health interns with the organization for a summer. The inaugural fellow, Alaya Levi Salley, contributed the following post about her experience with United Way.
I cannot believe it’s been over a year since I started a PVF-administered internship at United Way of the Bay Area (UWBA). I still can remember sitting in Bill Somerville’s office on a late spring day in 2013 discussing philanthropy and how the sector has evolved. To be honest, philanthropy was never a particular interest of mine. But, I listened to Bill’s words of wisdom and found myself wondering what role I would play in United Way’s philanthropic work.
During the first week of my internship, UWBA hosted a forum on poverty in the Bay Area. The event was part of United Way’s effort to increase its number of partner organizations to achieve its mission of cutting Bay Area poverty in half by 2020. That means helping 220,000 families achieve a level of self-sufficiency above the federal poverty level. Yes, you read that correctly. 220,000 families!
In the year I spent with UWBA, there has been movement toward that goal. Every day, UWBA and over 500 partner organizations are helping define and meet metrics around three key economic drivers: employment, education, and basic needs. UWBA invests its resources into the 7 Bay Area Counties it serves. Investments sometimes look like direct service programs such as ‘Earn It! Keep It! Save It!’ or ‘Community Schools’. Other times, investments look like advocacy work, at the local and State level, to advance public policies to help people move out of poverty. I was proud to intern at UWBA and am grateful to PVF for making it possible.