United Way of Central Florida

United Way Donations Invested Precisely to Create Lasting Change



United Way Donations Invested Precisely to Create Lasting Change


The business of improving lives has changed dramatically in recent years. "The work of United Way has evolved” says Pauline Simmonds-Brown, community ReadingPal and 2014-2015 Board Chair at United Way of Central Florida. “Today, we lead community-wide collaborations to create solutions and achieve measurable and sustainable change needed to strengthen our community."  

At a time when many are living one paycheck away from the slippery slope into poverty, United Way invests in services that address real needs across our community.



60 local experts lead studies to identify needs and solutions to improve quality of life. Four (4) United Way Steering Teams conduct annual studies to identify needs and fill gaps in services in the areas of education, income, health and short-term crisis. 

120 local volunteers review funded services to ensure results. Fourteen (14) Community Investment Teams annually review United Way funded services to be sure donations are making a measurable difference across the community. “Our local businesses make it possible,” says Penny Borgia, Interim CEO United Way of Central Florida, “they allow employees time and flexibility to participate in this important process.” 

United Way Investment volunteers represent 48 businesses across Polk and Hardee Counties and 17 in Highlands County. 

Among the most notable allowing their employees time to serve the 2015 United Way Community Investment process include: Publix Super Markets, Inc with a total of 45 participants, The Mosaic Company with 7, Polk County Board of Commissioners with 3, and Citizen’s Bank & Trust, City of Lakeland, Polk County Clerk of Courts, Polk County Tax Collector, Polk State College, State Farm Insurance, and Watson Clinic, LLP, each with 2.  In Polk, other companies offering employees an opportunity to serve in 2015:  A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure, A Fine Press, Bank of Central Florida, Buttercrust Bakery, Central Florida Health Care, Certigy, Clark & Daughtrey Medical Group, Clifton Larson Allen CPAs, Community Bank of Florida, Cornerstone Hospice, Darby Law Group, Disney World, FedEx Services, Florida Blue, GEICO, Holland & Knight, Indie Atlantic Films, ITW, L. Gay Ratcliff Consulting, Lanier Upshaw, Morgan Stanley, One Blood, One and Done Event Management, Platinum Bank, Priceless Car & Truck Sales, Regal Lakeland, Regions Bank, Republic Services of Florida, Stahl & Associates Insurance, Sun Trust Bank, Sun Trust Investments, Summit Consulting, The Pegasus Global Corp, Two Men & A Truck, Tucker Construction, UBS Financial Services, Wells Fargo Advisors.   

In Highlands, notable companies offering employees an opportunity to serve in 2015: Lykes Bros, South Florida State College, Heacock Insurance Group, and School Board of Highlands County. Other companies in Highlands: Alan Jay Automotive Network, Berish Tax & Financial Services, Heartland National Bank, Healthy Start Coalition, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, Highlands County Supervisor of Elections, Johnson Stivender Wealth Advisors, Kent’s Tax Service, Karlson’s Law Group, RWRC, Pamela Karlson, PA, Tetra Tech, Wells & Associates. 

Beginning in March, volunteers spent an average 22 hours over 4 months to review program applications, attend site visits and make recommendations to fund the best solutions to strengthen the community. Last month, the UWCF Board approved the 2015 United Way Grant Allocations.



To improve school readiness and academic achievement, the UWCF Board approved $1,051,220 to fund services that help children enter school ready to read. $1,798,393 was approved to fund tutoring, mentoring, after-school assistance and summer educational experiences that help students improve academically and graduate on time. 

To improve family financial stability, $779,279 was approved to fund money mentors, credit and budgeting classes and other financial education that help families reduce debt, improve credit scores and learn how to make changes in order to create savings for greater stability. 

To improve health, $1,312,420 was approved to fund access to healthcare and prescriptions, treatments for physical and mental health problems, treatments for substance abuse and assistance for those with disabilities.  All help reduce ER visits and condition-specific issues such as hypertension and diabetes. 

To stabilize families facing a short-term crisis, $758,224 was approved to fund assistance for those fleeing abuse, dealing with grief, recovering from a disaster or one-time financial assistance.



The work of United Way across our community is more important than ever. United Way grants are invested carefully. And, like any good business, return on the investment is a growing consideration in building stronger communities. Last year, United Way invested $2.8m to improve school readiness and academic achievement. These funds were leveraged by our partners to bring an additional $6.8m to the area to help students succeed and graduate on time.




About United Way of Central Florida

A philanthropy leader locally and regionally, United Way of Central Florida understands local needs and drives sustainable change to build better lives and stronger communities. We provide solutions focused in the areas of education, income and health because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life. We bring people and organizations together from all across the community –people with passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.


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Polk, Hardee and Highlands Counties, Florida | Phone: 863-648-1500 | PO Box 1357, Highland City, FL 33846 Physical Location
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