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3 area Michigan United Ways to merge

United Way in Kalamazoo
Posted at 8:31 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 20:54:56-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A nonprofit organization is working to merge three of its chapters in southern and mid-Michigan.

In just two weeks, they'll be known as the United Way of South Central Michigan.

United Way of South Central Michigan will cover six counties and bring new opportunities to each area while also strengthening their local impact.

"We feel that this is our opportunity to generate new and additional resources to be more efficient and effective as a single operation coming together to really drive the impact in local communities that we care about," said United Way of the Battle Creek & Kalamazoo Region President and CEO Chris Sargent.

Capital Area United Way, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and United Way of Jackson County are merging.

The boards of directors approved it in late January.

"United Way is an organization that does what no single organization can do alone. We bring together donors, corporations, organizations and individuals. We partner with dozens of community nonprofits and other local funders to really solve complex social issues that impact children and families who need us," said Sargent.

Together, the three chapters said they'll be even stronger. They're already working together on shared issues like financial instability and hunger.

While they may have similar disparities in each of their communities, the focuses may look different.

"Each one of our local United Ways will bring some unique programs and services. In the Capital Area, we are the home for the Capital Area College Access Network and for the volunteer income tax assistance work, and we hope to be able to support our local community as well as support our new communities in some of that work as we look to grow the impact that we do," said Capital Area United Way President and CEO Teresa Kmetz.

As they work together, they'll also be combining teams to become one.

"We have incredible teams, but there is slightly different strengths in each of our teams. By combining them, we are getting all of the best in every position we’ll have," said United Way of Jackson County President and CEO Ken Toll.

With it though, the local presence and impact will remain. They plan to keep local donations in the communities they come from as well as offices in each of the current locations.

"That has been one of the key commitments and principles from the beginning of this merger conversation. How can we ensure that donor dollars that are intended to stay in local communities will? In fact, United Way has been doing that for decades so that will just be a continuation of what we already do for donors," said Sargent.

The merger will now make this United Way chapter the second largest in the state.

A new board of directors will also be formed with equal representation from the current ones.

That board will decide on overall governance, leadership and other related responsibilities.

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