Andy Smith honored by United Way

Andy Smith

Gay TI executive joins board of UWMD, heading outreach to LGBT community

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas recently honored Andy Smith was honored with the agency’s Live United Volunteer Award.

Smith also recently joined the UWMD board of directors, becoming the only openly gay board member for the agency.

UWMD President and CEO Gary Godsey said, “He’s the kind of guy I’d like to have 100 of. If he says yes, it’s a done deal. He always follows through.”

Smith, the director of corporate philanthropy for Texas Instruments, chairs both the Volunteer Experience Subcommittee and the UWMD LGBT Partnership Committee.

In his position at TI, Smith coordinates support for United Way. His company is one of the agency’s leading corporate contributors.

Although United Way was, in the early 1990s, hesitant to award grants to LGBT organization Resource Center Dallas, RCD has now become a regular recipient of United Way funding.

This is no longer “your father’s United Way,” Smith said.

“They [the Resource Center] have really earned their stay at United Way with some really great proposals,” Godsey said.

AIDS Arms got one of this year’s larger United Way grants. Bryan’s House was added to the list of recipients for the current grant cycle.

Smith said that United Way doesn’t want to just be involved with the LGBT community, United Way wants to be a part of the community. That’s why the agency had an entry in last year’s Pride parade and a booth at Razzle Dazzle Dallas earlier this month, and has become a regular Out & Equal participant.

Smith said his involvement with United Way began in Austin with Communities In Schools — Central Texas Inc. When he moved to Dallas and went to work for TI, he got involved as a donor to the United Way campaign.

In his current position, Smith manages TI’s giving campaign. But he also creates volunteer opportunities for individuals, teams and families that include mentoring, tax consulting and staffing health fairs.

He said those opportunities are also available to other members of the LGBT community through United Way.

This year, United Way changed its giving campaign to focus on education, income and health. As a result, new agencies were included and others lost their United Way funding. All applicants currently apply and are vetted annually.

“There’s a rigorous stewardship process,” Smith said.

The allocation panels help vet grants and decide where the money goes and said that up to 200 volunteers participate.

He said a number of committees, including marketing and finance, need volunteers as well.

Godsey said that United Way could not operate with its volunteers and he called Smith a shining example of inspirational leadership.

—  John Wright

RCD, AIDS Arms among United Way beneficiaries

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas voted this week to disburse $25 million to 78 nonprofit organizations in the Dallas area.

Because of new criteria that emphasize improving education, income or health, some new agencies received money and others lost their United Way funding.

Among the regular recipients are Resource Center Dallas, which will receive $383,409, and AIDS Arms, which will receive $772,548. Bryan’s House is one of the new agencies receiving United Way funding and they will get $315,106.

Another new beneficiary is Turtle Creek Manor, a residential program in Uptown for people with co-occurring disorders of severe mental illness and alcohol or drug addiction.

Among those losing funding because they no longer fit the organization’s mission are two local Boy Scouts councils. In the past, some members of the LGBT community have chosen not to make  donations to United Way because of the funding of groups like the Boy Scouts that proudly enshrine discrimination into their mission and policies. Donors to the United Way can designate beneficiary organizations so that specific agencies of interest will receive the money.

—  David Taffet

Introducing the new United Way

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is reaching out to the LGBT community. We must reach back and answer the agency’s call to action if we want to make our community the best that it can be

 

ANDY SMITH  |  Special Contributor

Many of us in the LGBT community are familiar with United Way. However, if you’ve not followed them closely recently, you might not realize they’re changing the way they do business.

They’ve gone from being an organization that collects funds in the workplace and distributes money to charities to one that is focused on making a lasting impact in our community.

Additionally, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is actively seeking to reflect the face of our community in its leadership, staff, volunteers, donors and service providers. They want everyone, including the LGBT community, to join with them to enact positive, measured change.

To borrow from a car commercial, “This is not your father’s United Way.”

United Way isn’t just talking, they are actively working to be a true partner to the LGBT community. For example, they have added gender identity and expression to their EEO statement, which already included sexual orientation. They also walked in the Alan Ross Freedom Parade, participated in the 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Summit, recruited openly LGBT persons to serve on the grant allocations panels and are actively looking for openly LGBT candidates for their board and campaign cabinet.

Also, many people may not know that AIDS Arms has been a United Way partner agency for 19 years and the Resource Center of Dallas for 10 years.

After months of engagement with a wide variety of local civic and community leaders, our local United Way has launched a bold new venture called United2020. The plan is centered on three key areas:  Education, Income and Health. Over the next decade they hope to accomplish the following:

• Education: Ensuring that 50 percent more students are prepared to succeed beyond high school graduation.

• Income: Lifting 250,000 individuals out of poverty, and keeping them out.

• Health: Improving our region’s health through expanded access to care, promoting healthy behaviors and preventative programs.

In a historic departure from the traditional model of a closed group of “partner” agencies, United Way has opened its funding application process to all nonprofit agencies that can make substantial strides toward achieving the 2020 goals. This change has resulted in grant applications from more than 70 new organizations, many specifically serving the LGBT community.

This new open process and increased competition for dollars is critical — yielding stronger programs with better outcomes.

The plan’s success will require support from every sector of our community. This is why United Way is specifically reaching out to Dallas’ LGBT community and inviting us to engage with them in the United 2020 work by giving, advocating and volunteering.

United Way’s work will get done through active and meaningful partnerships, collaborations and programs that are squarely pointed at changing conditions that impact our daily lives. If you think about the three focus areas, they will directly affect the LGBT community.

Without a quality education, it is virtually impossible for a gay or lesbian youth to find a job. Improving our region’s health means supporting the health and medical services of the Resource Center Dallas, a United Way agency that’s a leader in HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment.

In short, the “Live United” call to action gives us the best chance at building a community that truly is a great place for all to live and prosper. If executed properly, this plan will provide a roadmap for our community’s future.

The new United Way is also busy removing roadblocks and obstacles to educational opportunities, job training and expanded access to healthcare. They’re advocating change to unnecessary, unfair or discriminatory laws that impede the ability of someone to make a good life in our region, while championing legislation critical to the success of United 2020.

For example, United Way is actively lending support to the anti-bullying bill now before the Texas Legislature, an LGBT advocacy effort closely connected to our Education goal.

To help ensure that they are on the right track with these new approaches, United Way has contracted with the Center for Urban Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas to provide ongoing independent evaluation of their efforts. They will publish an annual community scorecard, which will detail progress and challenges.

This will hold them more accountable and inclusively engage others to in their work.

Do we simply stand by? Or do we accept this call to action, and rally to address these serious issues our community faces?

As an active United Way volunteer, I can tell you that we have an excellent chance to make this work with the right support. None of this happens without you. None of this happens without widespread commitment and focus to make the North Texas area one of the best places to live and thrive in our country.

Andy Smith, LGBT community activist, is the director of Corporate Philanthropy for Texas Instruments Incorporated and leads United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ LGBT Partnership Committee.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright