2016: Year in Review

New and expanded initiatives, new ways to help and a continued commitment by generous donors and volunteers throughout Greater Kansas City helped make 2016 another great year for United Way and for the community we serve.

A great 2016


  • Our Promise 1000 initiative received a two-year, $550,000 grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to expand the number of families receiving comprehensive home visitation services for their infants from birth to age 3.
  • Our fourth Financial Opportunity Center, which provides a range of services for a comprehensive approach to building long-term financial stability for moderate-income individuals and families, opened at the Community Services League in Independence.
  • At the end of the month, our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites opened in 15 locations throughout the metro area to help low- and moderate-income people file their taxes.


AALI Murals in Sound
  • Our Veterans Alliance hosted a showing of the film “No Greater Love,” focusing on those who served in Afghanistan and the difficulties they faced in transitioning back home.
  • To celebrate Black History Month, our African American Leadership Initiative held “Murals in Sound” at the Blue Room on Feb. 4, celebrating the art and music of Kansas City.
  • Then on Feb. 23, our Latino Leadership Initiative co-sponsored a panel discussion on immigration and education.
  • Our first Mad City Money of the year, an educational experience to teach high school sophomores the realities of budgeting and finances, was held at Allen Village High School on Feb. 24.
  • Our LINC donor group for those in their 20s held its first event of the year – Pints for a Purpose – helping clean up a transitional housing building for reStart.


Poverty Simulation
  • Our Young Leaders Society took a new approach to its annual “Toast and Roast” event and hosted “Toast and Quote” on March 3, featuring the movie “Billy Madison.”
  • New members of the Tocqueville Society were welcomed at a reception at Polsinelli on March 29.
  • Our first Poverty Simulation of the year was held on March 4, and our second Mad City Money was held at the Federal Reserve Bank for Ruskin High School students on March 29.
  • United Way 2-1-1, which connects callers with the community resources they need, celebrated its 10th anniversary in Kansas City on March 9, with more than a million calls answered in the past decade. In addition, our Citizen Assist Program, which provides home visits to families in need, also celebrated its 10th anniversary in Kansas City. 


  • Legal Connections: Military Matters, a new program which provides free legal services to veterans, kicked off in April. This new service is offered in partnership with the KC Metropolitan Bar Foundation and veterans interested in the service are screened through United Way 2-1-1.
  • Women’s Leadership Council held its annual new member reception at Lockton on April 26, welcoming more than 50 new members this year.
  • Our VITA sites closed on April 16, after helping 3,991 people complete federal tax returns and 5,050 people complete state returns. This year’s VITA services helped taxpayers receive nearly $5 million in tax refunds.
  • Our 2016 Campaign Executive Cabinet, led by Steve Edwards of Black & Veatch and Alise Martiny of the Greater KC Building and Construction Trades Council, held its first meeting of the year.
  • And our Board of Trustees officially approved the new strategic approach to our work, the “Cycle of Success,” following more than a year of work by our Community Impact team.


  • United Way's Veterans Navigator attended the annual Heart of America Stand Down event where he connected with local veterans and provided helpful information about his role and our resource service, United Way 2-1-1.


  • UWGKC co-sponsored a mayoral summit focusing on the importance of after-school and summer learning opportunities, hosted by Mayors Sly James and Peggy Dunn. United Way’s Quality Matters initiative provides high-quality out-of-school-time opportunities for at-risk students at more than 70 locations throughout the metro area.


  • UWGKC and WEB DuBois Learning Center teamed up to offer summer programs for the children living at Choteau Courts as part of our work with the Choice Neighborhoods grant.
  • LINC members got together on July 22 to offer a “Field Day” for children from the Boys and Girls Clubs, providing games and activities at Washington Park for more than 140 kids.
  • Training for our Employee Campaign Managers, who lead the United Way campaigns at more than 700 workplaces throughout Greater Kansas City, was held at the Guadalupe Center on July 19.


Quality Matters Signing Day
  • The women of our Young Leaders Society and Women’s Leadership Council joined together for the fifth annual “In Common” reception, held at Burns & McDonnell on Aug. 3 and featuring a panel discussion of women across generations.
  • Our 17th Success By 6 Center, which provides a wide variety of educational resources for pre-schoolers, opened at Turn the Page KC’s Early Learning Hub.
  • Representatives from more than 20 partner agencies came to our Quality Matters “Signing Day” on Aug. 10 to kick off a new year for our out-of-school-time initiative.


Spirit of Caring
  • Twenty-one community leaders make up the 2016-17 Governance Academy class, which held its first event this month. Members will meet every month for the next seven months to learn more about community needs and United Way.
  • Our third Mad City Money opportunity of the year was held on Sept. 8 at Ruskin High School.
  • WLC’s signature event, the Plaza Art Fair reception at L’Ecole Culinaire, was held on Sept. 23.
  • And our 2016 campaign “officially” kicked off at the Spirit of Caring luncheon on Sept. 8, featuring keynote speaker Robert Townsend. The Adele Hall Spirit of Caring Award was presented to Greg and Deanna Graves, and KCP&L received the Corporate Pinnacle Award.


Team Smile
  • A new event for all leadership donors, Food and Futures, debuted on Oct. 13, featuring food tastings from local chefs and raising funds for our College and Career Readiness Savings Accounts program.
  • Tocqueville Society members celebrated the organization’s 30th anniversary in Kansas City at a special reception on Oct. 17, held at the home of Bill and Christy Gautreaux.
  • And LINC members gathered on Oct. 6 for a happy hour where they tied blankets for the babies in the Promise 1000 program.
  • UWGKC again sponsored Team Smile at Arrowhead, providing free dental care for more than 300 kids on Oct. 18.


  • LINC members completed their first year with Throwback to Give Back 2.0 on Nov. 12, with attendees providing clean-up support at two elementary schools followed by a celebration at The Levee.
  • Our final Mad City Money educational opportunity of the year was held Nov. 15 at Grandview High School.
  • Our Giving Tuesday efforts raised more than $10,000 for a washer and dryer at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School. The total, which includes a matching grant from Faultless Starch, will allow us to provide a washer and dryer for a second school as well.


My Very Own Library
  • The month kicked off with our Victory Celebration, with Campaign Co-Chair Steve Edwards announcing 2016’s projected campaign total of more than $33 million for our community. Vanessa Callaghan of GEHA received the ECM of the Year Award.
  • We also said thank you to our partner agencies at a special reception on Dec. 6, hosted by David Hall of Hallmark Cards. Our agencies raised more than $557,000 for this year’s campaign.
  • United Way brought My Very Own Library to seven KCMO public schools the first week in December, a new initiative which helps elementary school children build their personal home library.
  • WLC members hosted a special grand opening of the Kendra Scott store at Town Center on Dec. 15, with 20 percent of all sales that evening donated to UWGKC to support My Very Own Library.