United Way of Mass. Bay Gets $410K to Help Eight Nonprofits

August 30, 2018 — The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, based in Boston, earlier this week announced it received $410,000 to expand an innovative model aimed at helping small, center-based and family child care providers generate cost savings for quality improvements to programming and launch an alliance with eight Boston nonprofits.

The funds were provided by the Children’s Collaboration for Community Health, The Boston Foundation, Eastern Bank, and the Hogan Foundation.

“In a state with high levels of income inequality and gender wage gaps, supporting workers in traditionally low-wage service and caregiving work is imperative. These entrepreneurs are an integral part of the state’s economy, but they often lack business knowledge and are more susceptible to rising costs of rent and other expenses,” said Michael K. Durkin, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

The new funding will expand Shared Services of Massachusetts a new United Way initiative that provides educators with small business support and training, pools business owners’ purchasing power to achieve greater collective bargaining power with vendors, and facilitates improvements to program quality for young children through information and best-practice sharing among programs on curriculum and family engagement.

Specifically, United Way will establish the Boston Early Childhood Shared Services Alliance with the following organizations: United Way said expansion of Shared Services into Boston will also include training of 40 providers through a Small Business Innovation Course in partnership with the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and launching a substitute teacher pool with UMass and Bunker Hill Community College to cultivate paid interns from early education degree programs to fill the demand for qualified substitutes and build a teacher pipeline.

In Massachusetts, the median annual salary for the state’s 90,000 child care workers is only $25,000, according to a report released earlier this year by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, according to which more than 39% of the early childhood workforce in Massachusetts is on public assistance and more than 13% live in poverty.

The number of child care providers serving low-income children is declining, putting additional stress on those that remain, United Way said, noting that recent estimates suggest family child care providers make up 15%-20% of Boston’s total child care capacity.

Seeded by a grant of $30,000 from the Cambridge Community Foundation, United Way launched Shared Services of Massachusetts with a 14-program pilot in Cambridge and Somerville last October. The initiative combines a web platform offering a range of resources, monthly meetings where participating programs share information, and partnerships to facilitate services with local insurance, utility and property management providers along with IT, finance and marketing support.

“These partnerships are helping educators focus their time and resources on what’s most important - the kids,” said Geeta Pradhan, President and CEO at the Cambridge Community Foundation. “Research shows that high-quality early education impacts the healthy brain development of young children and sets conditions for a healthy and more equitable future”