We are thrilled to share some very exciting news with our United Way community. Effective July 1, 2023, we will merge with United Way of Coastal Fairfield County to create a new entity: United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut!
This strategic partnership is the result of months of work and will bring together the strengths and resources of both organizations to create a united force for positive change and enhanced community impact across Fairfield and Southern Litchfield Counties. The new organization will serve more than 25 percent of the state’s population across 27 communities, including the Cities of Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk, and Stamford, and the Towns of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Kent, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Stratford, Trumbull, Warren, Washington, Westport, Wilton, and Weston, Connecticut.
While our name will change and our footprint will expand, we remain focused on community-driven initiatives and evidence-based strategies to tackle key issues in the areas of education and child care, health and food security, financial stability, and basic needs, while creating systemic change for families living at or below the ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold. ALICE families have household incomes above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living. In Connecticut, more than 1 in 4 households are ALICE, and — combined with those who live below the poverty level — 38% of all households in the state experience significant financial hardship.
We will build on our community engagement model which will now include:
• Five Community Councils, made up of cross-sector volunteers focused on community input and impact. Councils will represent Stamford, Greater Norwalk, Greater Bridgeport, Northern Fairfield County, and Southern Litchfield County;
• Community Messengers and Parent Ambassadors who help to identify community needs, share resources, and co-design solutions; and
• ALICE Advisory Board, which guides the work of United Way by giving voice to the needs of low-to-moderate-income individuals.
The merger holds particular significance in improving cradle-to-career outcomes as it unites three StriveTogether initiatives — Bridgeport Prospers, Stamford Cradle to Career, and the newly launched Danbury collective impact initiative — under a single fiduciary. In doing so, we will strengthen our capacity to promote equity and economic mobility throughout the region —home to one of the nation’s largest opportunity gaps.
Below is a list of individuals who will lead our new organization. These individuals will make up our Senior Management team and, alongside all our talented staff, will help to ensure the success of our work.
Isabel Almeida, President and CEO
Arlene Ajami, Chief Financial Officer
Gail Carroll, SVP, Resource Development and Marketing
Yolande Ford, Senior Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
Ashley Gaudiano, SVP, Community Impact
Edith Presley, President, Stamford Cradle to Career
Katerina Vlahos, Executive Director, Bridgeport Prospers
We will officially begin operations as United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut on July 1, 2023, with continued offices in Stamford, Bridgeport, Danbury, and New Milford. At that point, you will be able to find us online at www.unitedwaycwc.org. We are excited about the opportunity ahead and the expanded impact that will come with this partnership. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us! We look forward to sharing more information in the weeks to come!