Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Economic Prosperity Request for Proposal

Berkshire United Way is seeking proposals to address its Economic Prosperity goals including connecting residents to available work and advancing career opportunities through exposure to various employment opportunities.  The Request for Proposal (RFP) is now available on-line at for funding from November 15, 2017 through June 30, 2020.

There are more than 17,000 individuals unemployed in Berkshire County, with only 2,700 of those collecting unemployment benefits with job placement support. An additional 26,000 are underemployed, not working 35 hours a week for 50 weeks a year. (Source: ACS 2011-2015 / Berkshire Benchmarks)

Job and income growth leads to a stronger local economy by increasing spending and the production of goods and services and stimulating economic activity. Benefits to the community include reduced social costs related to crime, drugs, family disruption and strengthened security, education, and physical and mental well-being. Job creation further increases economic prosperity for all and promotes higher living standards. (Source:

Instructions for completing on-line eligibility as well as a complete list of eligibility requirements are included in the RFP.  Among the latter – organizations must be financially stable, located in and primarily serving residents of Berkshire County, structured as a not-for-profit, governed by an active, locally based, volunteer board of directors, and deliver programs and outcomes that align with one or both of the strategies: Employment Match Maker (Family Sustaining Employment-Pathways) and/or Adult Work-Based Experiences (includes College Internships). 

We invite interested non-profit organizations to submit an Agency Eligibility through survey monkey using the link:

Together, we can build a stronger community.

Program Manager, Community Impact

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Grants may end, but the work continues

Berkshire United Way has been proud to be a recipient of a Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant for the past ten years.  This grant has supported the Pittsfield Prevention Partnership which has been actively working to unite the community in creating a healthy environment for our middle and high school youth by reducing and preventing youth substance use. Through this collaborative effort with our community partners, we have reduced 30-day usage of alcohol for 8th graders by 19%; for 10th graders by 29%, and for 12th graders by 13% (2007 -2016 Prevention Needs Assessment).   

A critical protective factor in reducing and preventing youth substance use is providing recognition and positive rewards to youth for their engagement in their schools and community.  The Pittsfield Prevention Partnership recognized the importance of highlighting youth by starting the S.A.Y It Proud (Supporting and Acknowledging Youth) awards in 2012. We have a catalog of 100 recipients since its inception.

Say It Proud Awards at the Gather In on July 22, 2017; Rich Johnson, former coordinator of Pittsfield Prevention Partnership (right in photo).

Unfortunately, the Drug Free Communities grant has come to an end, but many of the activities of Pittsfield Prevention Partnership will live on in our revived Positive Youth Development Impact Council (PYDIC). We will strive to create healthy, positive opportunities for all our Berkshire County youth.  If you would like to help develop strategies to support our youth in staying on a path to college and career join us on October 18th from 3 - 4:30 p.m. at the Family Resource Center, 480 West Street in Pittsfield.  I hope to see you there!

Kat Toomey
Coordinator of Positive Youth Development

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kindergarten readiness – it takes a community

I am very excited to be a part of Berkshire United Way’s efforts to ensure that every Berkshire County child arrives at kindergarten ready to learn.  

Kindergarten readiness involves many things, including social and emotional development, language and communication development, health and wellbeing, readiness to learn, as well as cognitive and general knowledge.

According to the National Association for the Education on Young Children, “School readiness must be broadly defined and flexible.”  Young children develop at very individual rates. Some may be strong in language, cognitive, and general knowledge and weaker in social development, due to shyness or lack of peer relationships.

Other children may excel in social, emotional, and communication skills, but show less interest in or received less exposure to cognitive skills such as writing, identifying letters, counting and classifying objects, or understanding book concepts. 

What is most important is for children to have a positive attitude toward learning and a community that supports them by providing opportunities for positive, healthy interactions with the adults in their lives. 

Our community partners at Wee Read Pittsfield offer suggestions on ways we can do that – I invite you to visit their Facebook page for inspiration.

Stephanie Adornetto
Coordinator of Early Childhood Development

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fun-filled family events

The transition from summer to fall is always a beautiful time in Berkshire County and with it comes two exciting events that will help build a stronger community while also benefitting Berkshire United Way!

On Saturday, September 9th Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort will hold a Community Day, offering local residents and visitors to the Berkshires, the opportunity to purchase an All Park Pass for the one-day special price of $39 -including a hot dog, bag of chips and bottled beverage, while supplies last. That’s a savings of up to $26 per ticket!  Jack Waldheim will be performing live music throughout the day as well.  All proceeds from the day will benefit Berkshire United Way
The following Sunday, September 17th will be the 41st Josh Billings RunAground, a combination bike, canoe/kayak, and running race that winds through the towns of Great Barrington, Stockbridge and Lenox, finishing at Tanglewood.  Participants compete as teams as well as ironpersons who are brave enough to tackle all three legs on their own. 

The Live United team poses for a photo following the 2016 running of the Josh Billings RunAground.
Over the past decade, the Josh Billings has contributed over $70,000 to Berkshire United Way’s mission of building a stronger community together.  I invite you to stop by and watch the race, it is an amazing Berkshire County tradition!

Duffy Judge
Development Manager