Business Model Pivot

United Way of Greater Cleveland pivots strategy to better meet community needs

CLEVELAND: United Way of Greater Cleveland has announced it has shifted its business model to better provide aid to those in need and to support the comprehensive care necessary to break the cycle of poverty in Greater Cleveland. This shift from a pass-through funding model to the role of collaborator, convener, advocate and investor marks the launch of an innovative new way of addressing poverty.

As part of the new strategy, United Way will continue to invest in the community and remain on par with $31 million invested in this year alone and over $150 million since 2015. However, the funding model has changed, as United Way focuses on addressing both immediate needs, and long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty.

“By redefining the way in which we work as a business, we have forged a new path forward,” says Augie Napoli, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland. “After assessing the reality of the situation in our region and evaluating the needs of our community, it became clear that this change in our business model was necessary. We have implemented the change and the pivot has positioned us to be more effective leaders and achieve sustainable, long-term results.”

Instead of spreading funds across a myriad of social agencies in the region, United Way is investing in the programs and services that are producing the best comprehensive care to break the cycle of poverty. In this new collaborative model, called the Community Hub for Basic Needs, United Way is working only with interested human-service organizations that are willing to align agendas, collaborate in developing solution-based strategies and coordinate the delivery of services to produce outcomes that are effective and measurable. Instead of just providing for one basic need, this cooperative strategy allows United Way and its partner organizations to produce sustainable, wraparound care for people in need.

In addition to meeting the every day needs of fellow Clevelanders, United Way seeks to provide long-term solutions to permanently lift people out of poverty. To achieve this, United Way has founded the United Way of Greater Cleveland Impact Institute. The Impact Institute is a think tank with an action plan, designed to create, and more importantly implement, new ways to better approach the root causes of poverty. The goal of the Impact Institute is to determine where additional work is needed in the community and then support large-scale programs and projects that fill in the gaps. Just as the original United Way workplace campaign was founded in Cleveland over 100 years ago, the Impact Institute is unique to United Way of Greater Cleveland and is funded solely by principal investments from individuals, corporations and foundations.

United Way believes in the future of Greater Cleveland and wants to give all residents a fighting chance to break free of the cycle of poverty. This has encouraged the organization to invest in bold, innovative, impactful solutions that provide comprehensive support to people currently living in poverty, while revolutionizing approaches to prevent the cycle of poverty from continuing.


Founded in 1913, United Way of Greater Cleveland is a local, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty in the Greater Cleveland area. The largest private-sector investor of health and human services, United Way directs $31,000,000 into efforts that address poverty with a two-pronged approach. The first prong is a focus on the daily issues of those living in poverty and the other is innovate with community partners to find long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty. For more information, visit

CHN Housing Partners


Financial Empowerment through Long-term Engagement

The Family Success program helps families improve financial outcomes including decreasing derogatory debt, improving credit scores, accessing mainstream financial products and services with the ultimate goal of helping families achieve affordable, sustainable home ownership and a lasting asset for themselves and future generations.

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging


Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People

Provides financial education workshops, financial coaching/counseling, foreclosure prevention counseling and other financial services intended to increase the financial stability of the growing senior population (aged 55+) enabling them to age in place with a more secure financial future.

Asian Services in Action Inc.


Financial Capability Program

Helps low-income immigrants and refugees learn to navigate the US financial system, cultivate healthy financial habits, establish a positive credit history, and build assets. Program provides in-language financial education, one-on-one financial coaching and credit counseling; peer lending circles; and homebuyer’s education and assistance.

Seeds of Literacy


Seeds of Literacy

This program provides a unique, volunteer-based program that assists low-level readers to increase their literacy levels and ultimately pass a high school equivalency exam and connect to employment opportunities.

Merrick House


Adult Learning and Workforce Development Program

This program supports adult learners of all levels and backgrounds and helps them earn the academic and workforce credentials they need while supporting them in their efforts to advance their education, attain productive careers, achieve self-sufficiency, and develop a lifelong love of learning and civic participation.

May Dugan Center


Education Resource Center: Adult Literacy

This program provides comprehensive and replicable literacy training in a calm, trauma-informed learning environment that meets the larger learning goals of students as community members by providing additional services while supporting positive problem-solving, resiliency and accurate self-perception.

Cuyahoga County Public Library


Aspire Greater Cleveland

This program provides adult basic literacy education and High School Equivalency preparation and testing to individuals in Cuyahoga County. The program targets individuals ages 16 and up who are out of school and have very low literacy (below third grade), and those incarcerated without a high school diploma.

Youth Opportunities Unlimited



This program addresses the workforce preparation needs of Opportunity Youth (young adults 18-24 who are not in school or working) by providing the resources necessary to begin a career in an in-demand industry sector of their choice. These resources include individualized case management, soft skill training, career pathway credential training, paid work experiences, job placement and a minimum of one year of follow-up services once placed.

Vocational Guidance Services


Vocational Rehabilitation Training, Placement & Retention Services

This program is designed to help Cuyahoga County residents with disabilities reduce their employment obstacles, gain competencies they need to achieve their employment goals and gain greater self-sufficiency through working. Clients participate in one or more of the program’s vocational preparation services and the program’s specialized placement services.