United Way of Pennsylvania
UWP Update - December 22, 2017
Warm wishes to all of our member organizations and our partners this holiday season! The board of directors and staff with you a restful time filled with all the people and activities you love. 
We look forward to an exciting and productive 2018! 
2017 Year End: What we've accomplished and where we're going
United Way of Pennsylvania is dedicated to fulfilling its mission to support and promote the work of local United Ways while engaging in advocacy to reduce barriers to advancing the common good. This year, UWP has focused on the following areas:  

UWP worked to advance the statewide 2-1-1 system throughout 2017. Together with local and regional partners, UWP and PA 2-1-1 have ensured that all regions in PA have 2-1-1 service. We've also secured the first multi-region human services contract for 2-1-1 to serve as the 24/7 phone point of entry for housing and homeless services in the Eastern Region balance of state Continuum of Care. This work is valued at $350,000 and UWP has also worked with legislative champions, particularly Senator Pat Browne, to secure 2-1-1 an appropriation for the first time ever for $750,000. 

UWP became the 11th lead partner on the Pre-K for PA campaign. We've participated in another successful advocacy effort for the 2017-2018 budget to increase funding for high quality pre-k. Because of the combined efforts of the partners, 3,300 additional children have gained access to high-quality pre-k services.

In 2017, United Way of Pennsylvania's Hill Day drew the participation of 17 local United Ways and UWP board leadership. During the event, the participants met with legislators on UWP's priority issues such as pre-k funding and 2-1-1. This was part of UWP's focus on coordinated network advocacy on state and federal legislation. UWP provided members with talking points for legislative meetings, coordinated electronic communications via our action alert platform, network sign-on letters, and social media messaging for advocacy on the PA State Budget, 2-1-1, CHIP Reauthorization, the charitable giving deduction, and the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

UWP has partnered with PA AFL-CIO to hold leadership conversations between our two organizations focused on the goal of strengthening the partnership with labor across the state, and restoring relationships that have been strained for various reasons.

UWP held two successful events in 2017. We partnered with United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley to host the 2nd annual statewide Tocqueville reception. This reception adds value to membership in local Tocqueville societies and broaden donor understanding about the work United Way is doing across the state with 2-1-1 service. At the annual statewide conference, US President Mary Sellers was able to attend and meet many Pennsylvania network members. Members were able to use flex credits to attend the statewide conference.

In 2018, UWP members can look forward to:
  • Unification of the currently independent PA 2-1-1 organization with United Way of Pennsylvania
  • Deployment of a new version of 2-1-1's statewide database software which will improve the usability of the 2-1-1 database
  • Additional trainings offered over webinar software
  • Opportunities to meet and collaborate with other member organizations through regional meetings facilitated through UWP
  • Leadership around creating a PA network strategy to use data to talk about the financial stability of families in every community across this state
Thank you so much for your support throughout the year. UWP looks forward to serving our members needs through advocacy, education, and collaboration. Happy holidays and a wonderful new year! 

2-1-1's assisting Puerto Ricans after the hurricanes
It is estimated that nearly 56,000 individuals from Puerto Rico will arrive in PA in the next few years. PA VOAD (Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters), the Commonwealth of PA, and FEMA are developing a response plan and asked PA 2-1-1 for information on how we are helping.

Evacuees from Puerto Rico have been arriving in PA for months, as calls to PA 2-1-1's Lancaster's region show. PA 2-1-1 East has handled 228 calls from evacuees while the rest of the state has received an additional 63 calls. Needs are primarily housing but also include help with finding winter clothing and household goods. 

PA 2-1-1 East has helped to develop a resource list for their region and 2-1-1 SEPA's website is being considered for the go to website for all Disaster Assistance Service information for folks who are in the 5 county region from PR.

To learn what is going on in your community, reach out to your 2-1-1 center or to Anne Fogoros at afogoros@uwp.org for a copy of the report shared with the PA VOAD.

Governor's budget office gives rosy midyear briefing

At a midyear budget briefing, Governor Wolf's budget secretary Randy Albright stated that in spite of deficits and shortfalls over the last ten years, "The commonwealth is in the best fiscal position it has been in since the Great Recession." He also said the state's fiscal health has improved since he delivered the midyear budget briefing last year. 

The administration has already announced that the spending plan the Governor will propose will not require any broad-based revenue increase to balance. Meanwhile, the Independent Fiscal Office is indicating that approximately $1 billion will be needed to close the gap for next year's budget, with the deficit projected at $600 million for a cost-to-carry budget. 

The Governor's budget office is projecting a $47 million surplus for 2017-2018, and this would include the first contribution to the state's broke Rainy Day Fund in several years. The surplus projection is dependent on raising about $215 million in gaming revenue, but does not depend on a $200 million fund transfer which is currently being litigated. 

Congress wraps up 2017 voting with major issues looming for January 

As has been widely reported, the House and Senate passed a federal tax reform package this week. Unfortunately, the bill is expected to significantly reduce charitable giving to charities, especially giving to charities that rely on middle-class donors.  While the charitable deduction is "technically" preserved, significantly fewer people will itemize, thereby limiting the utility of the deduction. The Johnson Amendment repeal language which would have allowed nonprofits to engage in some political activity through the course of their normal operations was not included in the bill. The Earned Income Tax Credit was not expanded. Refund-ability of the Child Tax Credit was increased by $300, a move which should help low income families, although improvements to allow more of the first dollars earned to be creditable would have provided a significant benefit to those households.  

Congress also passed a short-term spending bill on Thursday, December 21, which delays the threat of another government shutdown until January 19, 2018. The bill also extends CHIP through March. However there are difficult negotiations ahead as the Republican leadership is maintaining their position of refusing to grant a long-term extension for CHIP without a "pay for" to offset its costs. Another big ticket item that is not resolved is disaster relief aid for hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, as well as the wildfires in California.

As noted in a communication from United Way's US President Mary Sellers this week, "We are expecting that there will be opportunities to revisit the charitable deduction in 2018.  There will likely be at least a couple of legislative efforts to adjust the bill, which is typical after a major rewrite of the law.  It can take 3 or 4 years to make necessary adjustments in a new law.  We will continue to work as a network to find ways to restore the charitable deduction and find ways to expand tax incentives for giving."

UWP hiring part-time Operations Coordinator

UWP is accepting applications until January 2 for the newly-created part-time Operations Coordinator. Interested applicants should submit their cover letter and writing sample to info@uwp.org. 

The full job description is available here

PA releases school resource guide for disaster evacuees 

The disasters that have impacted Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas and the southeastern United States have forced families to evacuate and find safety. They have lost possessions, homes, and many have lost friends, neighbors, and family members. 

Governor Wolf directed PA's state agencies to collaborate and support evacuees from the regions affected. The PA Department of Education has worked with the PA Department of Health and the PA Department of Human Services to create a guide for schools to help educators and administrators navigate the resources available to them as they welcome new residents to their communities. 

Because of United Way's relationship with agency partners who will also be assisting with the welcoming of evacuees, we're sharing the guide here with our members. Please use this helpful resource to serve those in need.