Statewide kickoff highlights positive impact as United Ways tackle local needs

Dozens of United Ways across Michigan, including United Way of Southwest Michigan, kicked off a statewide effort today to celebrate their local impact and encourage people to get involved in their communities.


Known as the Unified Kickoff, the effort allows United Ways of all sizes to spotlight their local impact on a statewide stage, said Michael Larson, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW).


“Whether locally, regionally, or across Michigan, United Way plays a unique role in bringing together the people, ideas, and resources needed to tackle the toughest issues,” said Larson. “By sharing our stories, we grow together and show how our work is improving life for all people across Michigan.”


Starting today, participating United Ways will share their stories through advertising, news media, and social media. A common online website,, includes a video and links to the local United Ways taking part.


While the week-long kickoff is statewide, funds raised locally will stay local, said Anna Murphy, president of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “Our message this week is about celebrating our collective impact while focusing on how we change lives for the better right here in Southwest Michigan.”


According to Larson, the Unified Kickoff sprung from a dialogue four years ago between MAUW, Capital Area United Way, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, United Way of Jackson County, and United Way of Southwest Michigan. The effort adds no additional cost to participating United Ways; in fact, it increases visibility for smaller United Ways that may not have resources for extensive marketing.


“United Way connects and mobilizes all sectors in a community to create lasting change that produces healthy, educated, and financially stable individuals and families,” Larson said. “We’re thrilled to tell that story to every person in Michigan.”


For the third year in a row, United Way of Southwest Michigan has partnered with Tyler Automotive to provide a car challenge to kick off the campaign. Donors who give $156 are automatically entered into a drawing to win a two-year lease on a sub-compact vehicle from Tyler Automotive. For every additional $100 contributed, donors receive an additional entry into the drawing.


Ten finalists are selected, and the 2019 winner will be announced in February 2020 at Tyler Automotive in Stevensville.


The automatic entry of $156, which equates to $3 per week, is enough money to provide 34 meals to someone dealing with food insecurity, two months of support to help a young child learn to read, one free book for a child every month for five years, school supplies for eight kids to start the school year, or support for two individuals to address their mental health.




United Way of Southwest Michigan fights for the Health, Education and Financial Stability of every person in every community. We have the influence and relationships to make sustainable change a reality. By harnessing resources from corporate, nonprofit and public partners, we provide immediate assistance to our most vulnerable populations while addressing the root causes of our community's longstanding challenges and changing lives for the better. To join the fight—through giving, advocacy and volunteering—visit

Jennifer TomshackComment