United Way: Paving the way for a transformative future with $20 million fund for Southern Dallas Thrives

Story by Bora Laci. Photos provided by Tony Fay PR.

Last week, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas unveiled a groundbreaking $20 million fund for the Southern Dallas Thrives initiative. This milestone symbolizes the impact of Giving Tuesday and the inspiring vision for United Way’s future as it approaches its centennial year.

More than 1,400 employees from PepsiCo and Frito-Lay offices throughout the Dallas/Fort-Worth area participated in the annual PepsiCo United Way Day of Caring Thursday, Oct. 26. This project is one of the largest corporate United Way Day of Caring events in the DFW area. This photo was taken at Bonton Farms, which is an agricultural intervention designed "to restore lives, create jobs, and ignite hope in the most forgotten and neglected neighborhoods for the most marginalized and vulnerable people."

“This fund is significant because it’s historic,” says Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President & CEO of United Way. “It’s the first fund and commitment established by a corporation to support a specific community impact initiative in United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ 99-year history.”

According to Jennifer, the fund– established in part by the PepsiCo Foundation– is a revolutionary commitment by a corporation to support a community impact initiative. It reflects the remarkable partnership between PepsiCo and United Way by co-creating initiatives that support the Southern Dallas community.

Current and retired PepsiCo employees have already donated $8 million to the fund.

Day of Caring event at Frazier Revitalization, whose mission is to be a catalyst for change and transformation in the Frazier neighborhood, by coordinating, supporting and assisting economic and cultural development.

“More than a program, Southern Dallas Thrives is a model partnership and collaboration that advances economic mobility for some of Dallas’ most vulnerable and marginalized residents,” says Steven Williams, chief executive officer of PepsiCo Foods North America. “We know that in order to create a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, we also have to create the access to thrive, and that’s exactly why Southern Dallas Thrives is so successful and why we endorse and support it wholeheartedly.”

Jennifer also highlights how this fund aligns perfectly with United Way’s overarching Community Impact strategy, Aspire United 2030. The focus areas encompass education, income, and health, with the fund accelerating progress toward ambitious goals.

“We have a focus on improving preschool education, providing families with nutritious meals, preparing high school students for college and or career. And there’s a specific focus on workforce development for women within the Southern Dallas Thrives initiative,” Jennifer says.

According to Jennifer, United Way uses a sophisticated measurement approach involving third-party evaluation by the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI). The two organizations have aligned to co-create the Community Vulnerability Compass (CVC), powered by PCCI, to identify zip code and census tract level areas of greatest need and to prioritize investments. They use detailed census tract data to assess community progress in education, income, and health.

“We partner with PCCI to utilize data to inform critical intersections between programmatic investments in high vulnerability areas and community-level change, and they conduct and analyze an annual collection of program-level outcomes to tell us if community conditions are getting better or worse or staying the same in those three areas aligned with our impact strategy,” Jennifer says.

PepsiCo Day of Care event at Viola's House, which exists to provide maternity housing and support services to mothers who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

United Way’s call to action is: “Give, advocate, volunteer.” Jennifer emphasizes that while financial support is crucial, volunteering plays a pivotal role. Volunteering often leads to deeper engagement and, ultimately, more substantial contributions. “People who get involved in volunteering often move across the engagement continuum. They oftentimes start as observers, then become doers, and those doers ultimately become investors.”

While PepsiCo and Frito Lay North America helped establish the fund, Jennifer highlights the collaborative efforts already underway, with several corporations supporting the Southern Dallas Thrives initiative. Partnerships with organizations like Celanese, AT&T, and Hilti have amplified the fund’s impact, allowing it to address various community challenges effectively.

“We’ve been able to leverage that funding to drive even more resources to support the work,” she says.

Jennifer encourages potential supporters by emphasizing United Way’s unique approach to creating thriving communities through measurable goals, data-driven evaluations, and community engagement.

“There is no better investment you can make in building strong, healthy, thriving communities in North Texas,” Jennifer explains. “We believe that the comprehensive Aspire United 2030 strategy is delivering measurable results that are helping to make our communities stronger.”

Jennifer’s insights provide a deeper understanding of United Way’s relentless commitment to improving communities through education, income, and health initiatives. Creating the $20 million fund for the Southern Dallas Thrives initiative marks a historic milestone, highlighting the power of collaboration and the potential to drive meaningful change in North Texas.

United Way’s dedication to data-driven impact ensures that every contribution, big or small, plays a vital role in building a brighter future for all. To join United Way’s effort to empower communities and create lasting positive change, you can visit the Southern Dallas Thrives website.