In the shadows of the battered U.S. auto industry, United Way for Southeastern Michigan is getting $27.1 million from General Motors to help five area high schools boost their graduation rates and help rebuild the region’s skilled workforce.
In North Carolina’s self-wounded banking capital, a group of seven foundations has pledged a total of $40.5 million for a $55 million effort to improve the lowest-performing schools in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
In North Carolina’s politically- and demographically-torn capital, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership have released a consultant’s student-assignment plan for the Wake County schools that aims to balance students’ choice in attending schools near their homes with the need to maintain diversity in the schools.
And in five or six of North Carolina’s poorest counties, the Winston-Salem-based Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust for the first time will focus half the $18 million to $19 million in health funds it has to invest throughout the entire state each year, with the goal of strengthening the work of a broad range of local organizations that can help improve health in those mainly rural counties.
All those efforts are rooted in an abiding belief in the very idea of community, the idea that we sink or swim together and that fixing problems requires a broad range of voices, resources and players working for a shared goal.
Trying to spur change in those communities is the philanthropic sector – United Way and a major corporation in Detroit, charitable foundations in Charlotte, business leaders and a local education fund in Raleigh, and a charitable foundation in some of North Carolina’s poorest counties.
The goal of those and a growing number of other philanthropic investors throughout the U.S. is to serve as a catalyst, trying to spur change and make a difference by working in partnership with government, business and nonprofits to address needs that affect the entire community.