SAN FRANCISCO — The boards of United Way of the Bay Area and United Way Silicon Valley voted yesterday to pursue a merger that will combine the organizations effective July 1, 2016. The new organization will continue to improve lives and strengthen communities across eight counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano.
Together, they will represent one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, a diverse community known not only for its great wealth, innovation and highly educated workforce, but also increasingly for growing wage inequality, skyrocketing housing costs and a steep skills gap. The newly reimagined organization is uniquely positioned to work with community leaders, businesses, policymakers, nonprofits and individuals to affect change on a scale that no single organization can achieve on its own.
“What drives us at United Way is the notion that we are greater than the sum of our parts,” said Anne Wilson, CEO of United Way of the Bay Area, who will lead the combined organization. “We all reap the rewards of the change we create together.”
With one in four Bay Area residents living in poverty, the merged United Way will strive to grow its efforts in improving income stability for residents across all eight counties.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to harness the innovation of two truly great communities, so that we can meet bigger and bolder goals,” said Sandra Miley, Interim CEO of United Way Silicon Valley.
The combined organization will replicate and scale successful programs in both regions to become an even greater force in the fight against poverty. For example, both organizations support free tax preparation for working individuals and families. By joining forces, they expect to bring more than $100 million in tax returns back to the community in 2017, both helping residents meet their daily needs and boosting the local economy. The merger also could lead to the opening of a Spark Point center in Santa Clara County. Spark Point is a financial coaching program established by United Way of the Bay Area that is already helping move people achieve financial stability in 14 locations.
While final details of the combined entity will be finalized in the coming months, United Way of the Bay Area and United Way Silicon Valley remain committed to investing in local agencies dedicated to creating a better life and a stronger community.
“I have been impressed with United Way’s innovative partnership in our community,” said Sandra Portasio, Director of School-Community Partnerships at the Redwood City School District. “I applaud this merger because the more we all collaborate and coordinate resources, the better we can serve our community.”
The combined organization, which will draw from the talent of the corporate, nonprofit and public sectors of both geographic areas, will provide businesses, their employees and others with opportunities to join a network dedicated to building a better life and a stronger community—for everyone.