United Way, Pocono Alliance, announce merger
STROUDSBURG — Poverty, hunger and access to early childhood education for families unable to afford it.
In Monroe County, as anywhere else, these are problems too big for any one agency on its own to address.
The United Way of Monroe County, which fundraises for local organizations, and Pocono Alliance, which connects residents in need to helpful local resources, realize this.
Which is why both organizations announced Thursday that they’re merging into one entity, which will still be called “United Way,” to better serve families and individuals in need.
“Both organizations are incredibly positioned to do even more in this community by working together,” Monroe United Way Executive Director Michael Albert told a gathering of community volunteers, staff from both agencies and elected officials at Pocono Alliance’s McConnell Street office in Stroudsburg Borough.
Albert has been key in moving the United Way beyond a strictly fundraising capacity to a collaborative collective-impact capacity with Pocono Alliance. Realizing their interests and goals are similar, both organizations see merging as the next logical step in this collaborative process.
“We both envision moving the needle on problems affecting residents in our community,” Pocono Alliance Executive Director Michael Tukeva said. “We both desire equity, fairness and social justice more than just charity.”
Perhaps the most important advantage of merging is combining the staff of agencies, which on their own are spread too thin, into partnerships that can more efficiently and effectively serve the area’s less fortunate. A partnership can have better success in augmenting community resources and bringing in more regional, state and federal funding.
For example, under this collaboration, the United Way and Pocono Alliance last year developed and submitted an application, supported by other local agencies, for grant money for efforts to reduce homelessness in Monroe County. Last month, both organizations were notified they’re receiving $100,000 in grant funding that will go toward getting homeless people into affordable housing, as opposed to shelters.
“That’s the power of partnership,” Tukeva said. “When we talk about capacity-building, this is what we mean. It’s about expanding the impact and reach of our respective organizations by coming together.”
The merger involves Tukeva becoming executive director of the new combined organization. Albert will resign as United Way executive director, become a merger transition consultant and continue serving, but as a community volunteer.
Members of the Pocono Alliance and United Way boards will form a new merged board. The McConnell Street office, which has housed Pocono Alliance, will be the merger’s headquarters while the organization decides what to do with the United Way’s former Tannersville location.
“The United Way and Pocono Alliance practice what they preach,” said Executive Director Heidi Fareri of Monroe County Meals On Wheels, one of the local agencies that will benefit from the merger. “They’re showing us what partnership looks like. We’re very excited to see and be part of the results of this new collaborative approach.”