Cover Story: United Way - major milestone

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte area United Way celebrating an important milestone in its campaign to regain the community's trust.

In 2008, the non-profit fired its CEO in the aftermath of a pay scandal.  A year ago, the charity had to dip into its reserves to fund local organizations.

Monday the United Way announcing it's not only met its goal, it has more money than usual to distribute to local agencies.

The United Way believes it has turned a corner from its controversial past.  But it's come through drastically cutting its own expenses, meeting the challenge set by a local philanthropist and a last-second shot-in-the-arm from Bank of America

"I'm pleased to announce that Bank of America will participate in these efforts with a one-million dollar grant to the community," said Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America amid cheers from the charities who will benefit.

Of the million from B of A half a million dollars will going to the Critical Need Response Fund, the emergency assistance fund set up a second year by the Leon Levine Foundation.

And a half a million dollars will go to the United Way of Central Carolinas sending it over the top in its annual fundraising drive.

"What a day for our non-profit world of this region and the agencies and the thousands that they are truly privileged to serve," said Jane McIntyre, executive director of United Way of Central Carolinas.

And what a difference a year and change makes.  Since former CEO Gloria Pace King was fired over a lucrative pay and benefits package coupled with a painful recession the Charlotte area United Way took in millions less last year which forced it to cut appropriations to member charities by an average of 40 percent.

The pain was severe to non-profits like Hope Haven, which ran a six-figure deficit last year.  President and CEO Alice Harrison invited to attend Monday's the United Way announcement was in the dark till she got here.

She said, "My employees were also excited about this today to see what was going to happen. I haven't seen that interest and that hope in a long time."

It's been more than hope that's re-ignited the United Way.  Since Gloria Pace King's firing it's installed a new CEO Jane McIntyre a known fiscal conservative, sliced in half its Board of Directors and nearly cut in half its operating expenses.

Meaning more of the donations it takes in now goes out to area charities.

Now that it's met its fundraising goal United Way will get an additional $1 million from the Levine Foundation which became an incentive some believe to make needed reforms.

Says executive director McIntyre, "I rarely get questions about the past. Because I really don't talk about the past. I have focused on the current now and the future. It's not my job to focus on the past."

Monday's gift from the Bank of America Foundation puts the United Way over its fundraising goal allowing it to get the million dollar challenge from the Levine Foundation.

For area charities it means an additional $2.8 million to divvy up over last year.

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