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United Way issues annual 'Report to the Community'

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The United Way of Buffalo and Erie County's "Annual Report to the Community" issued Monday focuses on community collaborations and reducing poverty.

United Way President and CEO Michael Weiner said poverty continues to be a problem in the Buffalo area.

"We continue to be one of the top cities of our size with relatively high rates of poverty.  We're twice the national average; over 30% of our families in our community alone are facing poverty," said Weiner.

Weiner said the single most important message is whether this community can do a better job helping families get back on track.

"Helping (them) prepare to start education in a way that will more likely result in staying in school, thriving in school, going on to graduate and then career or college," stated Weiner.

Weiner said the United Way is currently taking a multifaceted approach toward addressing the issue of poverty through collaborative efforts with businesses, community groups and other organizations focusing on the areas of education, financial stability and health and wellness.

Weiner said the United Way developed a poverty coalition about a year a half ago that included city and county governments, nonprofit organizations, services providers and others with the aim of increasing awareness and engaging the community. 

Weiner said they're now shifting to a more action oriented mission in hopes of making a bigger dent in the poverty issue locally.

Weiner adds that United Way's funding has increased through the past few years but discretionary money has remained the same, making it difficult to focus extra dollars on the poverty issue.