June 30, 2021 – Lexington, KY - United Way of the Bluegrass (UWBG) announced July 1 as the planned opening of its new WayPoint Center initiative, a one-stop neighborhood resource to help improve financial stability and address the complex challenge of improving economic mobility and opportunity for underserved families across the region.
“WayPoint’s mission is to create an access point for families and individuals, and to provide vital programming to people living in underserved and low-income neighborhoods,” said Timothy Johnson, UWBG’s president and CEO. “When we were looking at potential locations, we studied by Zip Code which areas needed our help the most. The three lowest-income census tracts, or neighborhoods across Central Kentucky are communities of color, and predominantly African American,” said Johnson. “What’s more concerning is that despite these neighborhoods being in the highest need of services, they are also least likely to have immediate access to social services within walking distance.”
The WayPoint initiative is launching its first three centers thanks to leading support from Toyota Kentucky, Valvoline, and others, as well as individual gifts from United Way donors.
“Improving access to reliable and trusted services in underserved neighborhoods is an important step forward in creating opportunities for all Central Kentuckians. Toyota Kentucky is proud to unite in our support of the WayPoint initiative through United Way of the Bluegrass,” said Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Kentucky.
UWBG will open three centers this week, including locations in Lexington’s west end and east end neighborhoods, and an additional center opening in downtown Paris. Over the next five years, the organization plans to launch WayPoint Centers in Winchester, Georgetown, Frankfort, and Nicholasville. “As UWBG evolves into the modern organization that our community needs and deserves, this new initiative is an important step forward in improving the lives of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Johnson.
The WayPoint initiative is meant to offer individuals and families a stopping place on their journeys toward financial stability, better physical and mental health, and long-term success. “Key factors affecting the ability of people to achieve financial stability include wealth inequality, soaring personal debt and systemic barriers to resources. COVID-19’s negative impact on low-income individuals and communities of color has exacerbated the issue, with many unable to pay rent or basic utilities for the first time in their lives,” said UWBG vice president of Community Impact, Jonathan Kohn. “WayPoint Centers will help people with immediate needs and basic necessities, but these centers will also open doors and connect people to long term solutions.”
As a part of UWBG’s new collective impact strategy, WayPoint Centers will coordinate an ecosystem of partners and programs to have the greatest impact on local families from a place-based anchor in their communities. UWBG will continue to provide basic needs grants and recently awarded funds to 60 local and regional nonprofit organizations. Additionally, UWBG is directing funds to programs and collective impact partners working directly with WayPoint clients.
The centers will offer connections with partners focusing on financial stability, physical and mental health, and basic needs support. Current collective impact partners include Paris-Bourbon County YMCA, Urban League of Lexington-Fayette, YMCA of Central Kentucky, Community Action Council, Jubilee Jobs, Childcare Council of Kentucky, Apprisen, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass. Among the services offered will be basic needs assistance, youth mentoring and tutoring, parenting and family support services, financial counseling and coaching, access to banking products, and free income tax filing through United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Additional community partners will be invited to participate through this new collective impact model.
“Each center will provide a collaboration of trusted programs and partners under one roof - a true community project dedicated to improving lives and creating opportunities for more people in Central Kentucky,” said Johnson.
The first WayPoint Centers include the following locations in partnership with the City of Lexington and the Paris-Bourbon County YMCA:
Black and Williams Neighborhood Center - 498 Georgetown Street, Lexington
Charles Young Center – 540 E. Third Street, Lexington
Paris Bourbon-County YMCA – 917 Main Street, Paris
A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony will take place on July 1 at the Black and Williams Neighborhood Center. To learn more about the WayPoint initiative, visitwww.uwbg.org/waypointcenter.
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About United Way of the Bluegrass:
For 100 years, United Way of the Bluegrass has been fighting for the Basic Needs, Education and Financial Stability of every person in Central Kentucky. Your support helps impact people in Anderson, Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Montgomery, Scott, and Woodford counties. Visit www.uwbg.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.
Vice President, Marketing & Communications / United Way of the Bluegrass
859.351.8567 / Katie.Williams@uwbg.org