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UWP Update - January 18, 2019
United Way of Pennsylvania has partnered with labor and PA 2-1-1 to provide a list of resources to Pennsylvanians affected by the shutdown. Visit our Government Shutdown Resources site to learn more. 

PA unites to support employees impacted by the federal shutdown  

As federal government employees impacted by the partial shutdown now will miss their second paycheck since the shutdown started, United Way of Pennsylvania, PA 2-1-1, the PA AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Government Employees District 3 have partnered together on a Pennsylvania response. This supplements the national United Way coalition which includes labor and corporate partners who are taking action to support affected employees. 

Through a partnership with PA 2-1-1, and thanks to state funding which allowed us to secure a statewide texting contract prior to this need arising, United Way of PA was able to quickly launch a texting code to provide informational updates to people who subscribe. The public can text FEDSD to 898-211 to sign up. The text updates are reinforced by a mobile-friendly web page on UWP's site which is cataloging resources we are aware of to help these employees. 

The strategy is to push out 1 informational message per day, Monday through Friday, for the duration of the impasse. At any point, federal employees who are experiencing immediate challenges meeting their basic needs will be reminded to call 2-1-1 or text their zip code to 898-211 to speak to a resource navigator. 

We request assistance from all United Ways in PA and all partners to help us identify resources that are available. Please send this information to Amanda Barbarich and Emily Aubele

February SNAP benefits to be paid on January 18th - help inform agencies and SNAP recipients that they are receiving their February benefits early


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified PA's Department of Human Services (DHS) that February SNAP benefits will be fully funded. However, the February benefits need to be paid on January 18th. 


This is the only payment SNAP recipients will receive for the month of February. They will not receive a payment on their regularly scheduled February payment date. SNAP recipients will have to make the early payment last through an undefined period if the shutdown persists. DHS is awaiting further guidance regarding the availability of benefits in March. 


DHS will continue to take SNAP applications and process  renewal applications through the
PA Compass Website and through paper applications. DHS will continue to issue benefits to all applicants found eligible in February until they are told to stop issuing benefits by the USDA. All county offices are open and staff are available to assist applicants and SNAP recipients during this time. If you or someone you're working with has questions, please contact the statewide customer service center at 1-877-395-8930. If you live in Philadelphia, please call 215-560-7226.  


The changes do not affect any programs beyond SNAP. LIHEAP, cash assistance, and medical assistance benefits are not affected. 


 

Join UWP to advocate for the Earned Income Tax Credit on January 25 and PA 2-1-1 on February 11

UWP is hitting the ground running with our advocacy efforts for the year and we have some opportunities coming up where you can help us engage.  

Many of you are involved in the VITA program and are strong advocates for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Coming up on January 25th is national EITC Awareness Day.  This is a day where we can showcase the great work United Ways are doing to support the expansion of the EITC and how many Pennsylvanians are benefiting from this tax credit.  

UWW is putting together a toolkit, which will include social media messaging, graphics, state data, and more.  When this is available, UWP will send this out to our members for their use.  We highly encourage you to participate in amplifying the message on how critical the EITC is to over 500,000 Pennsylvanians and the importance of expanding the program to cover more workers and families. 

Also, in the not-so-distant future is PA 2-1-1 Day.  As you know, this is held on February 11th each year.  This day is a day to celebrate and bring more awareness to the great work our 2-1-1 centers are doing in Pennsylvania to help our communities and residents connect to health and human services information and referral. 

UWP is proud of the hard work the network has put in to bring PA 2-1-1 to 97% of Pennsylvanians, and this year we are thrilled to announce we will have 100% coverage by July 1st! This is a huge accomplishment for our network and Pennsylvanians.  Please plan to join UWP and PA 2-1-1 on Feb. 11th to announce this statewide coverage and continue to educate our communities on the needs 2-1-1 can assist them with.  It is also a time to advocate for continued state support and funding in the upcoming budget for 2-1-1. UWP will have a toolkit available for our members to use with talking points, social media messaging, local press release templates, and graphics to use on PA 2-1-1 Day.  Please stay tuned for these materials closer to the date. If you plan to host any local events, please share that information with UWP by contacting Kristen Rotz.   

If you have any questions about these advocacy opportunities, please contact Maggie Livelsberger

United Way Releases Federal Policy Agenda for 2019-2020 Congress

Each new congressional session means a fresh start to engage in advocacy matters that are important to the United Way network.  United Way Worldwide  released their Policy Agenda for the 116th Congress, which highlights the policy goals they will work to advance.   

This policy agenda was developed with input from over 250 state and local United Ways, advocacy coalition partners, and U.S. Board of Trustees.   In addition to a few other policies, United Way will call on the 116th Congress to:
  • Protect safety net programs like SNAP and Medicaid
  • Invest in jobs and workforce development
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit 
  • Restore charitable giving incentives 
United Way will employ a combination of the following engagement strategies to advance these policy issues:
  • Assume a leadership role in advocacy, representing the network before Congress, the Administration, and the human services sector - proactively advocating for, and bringing visibility to, these priority issues.
  • Proactively engage local and state United Ways across the United States to advocate with their Members of Congress, provide consultation, training, messaging and technical assistance.
  • Collaborate with or lead advocacy partnerships and national coalitions of nonprofits and advocacy organizations on United Way's policy priorities.
UWP works closely with UWW on federal policy issues and activates our state's local United Way on many initiatives throughout the Congressional session.  We will continue to work together to advocate for these vital policy areas.  

If you have any questions on UWW's policy agenda, please contact Maggie Livelsberger

United Way Releases Federal Policy Agenda for 2019-2020 Congress

Each new congressional session means a fresh start to engage in advocacy matters that are important to the United Way network.  United Way Worldwide  released their Policy Agenda for the 116th Congress, which highlights the policy goals they will work to advance.   

This policy agenda was developed with input from over 250 state and local United Ways, advocacy coalition partners, and U.S. Board of Trustees.   In addition to a few other policies, United Way will call on the 116th Congress to:
  • Protect safety net programs like SNAP and Medicaid
  • Invest in jobs and workforce development
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit 
  • Restore charitable giving incentives 
United Way will employ a combination of the following engagement strategies to advance these policy issues:
  • Assume a leadership role in advocacy, representing the network before Congress, the Administration, and the human services sector - proactively advocating for, and bringing visibility to, these priority issues.
  • Proactively engage local and state United Ways across the United States to advocate with their Members of Congress, provide consultation, training, messaging and technical assistance.
  • Collaborate with or lead advocacy partnerships and national coalitions of nonprofits and advocacy organizations on United Way's policy priorities.
UWP works closely with UWW on federal policy issues and activates our state's local United Way on many initiatives throughout the Congressional session.  We will continue to work together to advocate for these vital policy areas.  

If you have any questions on UWW's policy agenda, please contact Maggie Livelsberger

VITA directory reminder

UWP is currently updating our VITA Directory for 2019.  Many of you have already sent in updates, however if you haven't yet, then please email them to Brandie Trostle.  Please feel free to review the VITA Directory to see the information we list.  Updates must be received as soon as possible, but no later than Friday January, 25 to be included in the 2019 directory. 
Start Strong PA  campaign to publicly launch Jan. 29

UWP is proud to be a principal partner in the Start Strong PA campaign, which focuses on accessible and affordable high-quality child care for Pennsylvania's children, age birth to three-years old.  This coalition is comprised of many of the same partners working on the Pre-K for PA campaign, who understand the importance of high-quality care for our youngest residents. We are strong advocates for early-learning and know this is an issue area that is important to just about every community in the commonwealth.  

The campaign will be working with the Administration and legislature, as well as countless community partners, to secure funding to serve 1,000 children on the subsidized child care waitlist, and increase access to high-quality child care. In addition, the campaign will be working to secure funding to help child care providers move up the Keystone Stars ranking system to become high-quality centers, improve infant/toddler child care tiered reimbursements, and invest in the child care workforce to provide more capacity in high-quality centers.  

To kick off the campaign, Start Strong PA will be holding a press launch on Tuesday, January 29th from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Main Rotunda of the Capitol.  UWP will be present for this launch and will be meeting with a select few legislators to discuss the campaign and our efforts.  Please keep an eye out for social media around the launch and other information on our advocacy efforts as it becomes available.  

If you would like to join as a supporting organization for the campaign, please fill out this form.  

UWP is excited to partner on such an important issue and we hope you will join us in standing up for a strong start for children and important supports for working families! For more information or questions on the Start Strong initiative, please contact Maggie Livelsberger
MyFreeTaxes.com Updates

UWW recently hosted a webinar regarding changes to MyFreeTaxes.com as well as the resources UWW will be offering to United Ways. The recording and resources are available through the  MyFreeTaxes.com Partner Portal

As was previously announced, H&R Block will be ending their two-year sponsoring relationship with UWW and MyFreeTaxes.com in 2019 but will continue to provide the MyFreeTaxes.com software. MyFreeTaxes.com will be available to households and individuals who earned $66,000 or less in 2018. UWW will continue to provide weekly data reports through the partner portal starting in February, and will also provide marketing materials. Local United Ways can also continue to use the H&R Block logo with MyFreeTaxes.com marketing. 

The most important change will be the absence of the MyFreeTaxes.com Helpline. Instead of the Helpline, UWW plans to  release a robust online FAQ that will help filers address most of their questions. The FAQ will lead with the five most common questions, then branch into related topics. The topics will also link to related subtopics. UWW is still working to see if escalated calls can be handled by trained VITA volunteers. 

UWW plans to target Millennials with the MyFreeTaxes.com software because they are comfortable with online technology, new to tax prep, and often fall under the income threshold. The MyFreeTaxes.com resources will make great use of the grim reaper, named Steve, who appeals to many millenials, although other designs will be available. MyFreeTaxes.com is also designed to be "mobile-first" and easily accessible from cell phones and mobile devices. 

If you have additional questions regarding MyFreeTaxes.com, please contact  Hannah Beesley at UWW or visit the  Partner Portal

Member Services Committee First Meeting Scheduled January 28th

UWP's Member Services Committee (MSC) still has some openings for members. This committee will steer the benefits offered to UWP members and provide valuable input and feedback on training opportunities, member events, and member programs.

The first meeting is already scheduled for January 28th at 1:00PM. Amy Hicks, Executive Director of the United Way of Franklin County, is the Committee chair and Will Price, Executive Director of the United Way of Venango County is the vice-chair. If you would like to join this committee, please contact Amanda Barbarich.  

 

 


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