Author: Kara Porter

About Kara Porter

Kara serves as Manager, Capacity Building for United Way. Along with a committee of dedicated volunteers, she works to ensure that an effective, efficient network of education, income and health programs are available throughout our community. Having lived on the east coast and in central Ohio, Kara is a Greater Cleveland convert, believing it to be the perfect combination of the northeastern and midwestern regions of the U.S.

When growing up in poverty, it can be hard to see a way out

A Greater Cleveland Poverty recently began a new series called “A Greater Cleveland,” highlighting the issue of generational poverty. The first article focused on children living in King Kennedy, a public housing complex on Cleveland’s east side. Kids growing up in poverty, like the kids in these articles, may not have access to healthy food, safe places to play, or high-quality educational opportunities. They may also face violence; sometimes on the streets and sometimes in their own homes.

More than 50 percent of kids in Cleveland live in poverty. This is an incredible statistic and is central to why is telling stories about this complex issue — an issue that must be approached from many angles.

Mentoring through poverty

Often children growing up in poverty don’t have the benefit of a positive role model. One of the many factors that can influence a young person’s aspirations and outcomes, therefore, is whether or not they have a mentor. Mentors can provide a caring adult for kids to talk with, sharing insights, advice and experiences that are invaluable. Mentors can provide exposure to activities that a kid would normally not have access to and provide a view into various career paths.

In fact, a 2014 report from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, reveals that at-risk youth with mentors are more likely to engage in positive activities, including volunteering, participating in school sports or clubs, and holding leadership positions in extracurricular activities. It was also reported that “more than three quarters (76 percent) of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate from college versus half (56 percent) of at-risk young adults who had no mentor.”

Revealing needs in Greater Cleveland

United Way’s recently completed Community Assessment identified quality “out-of-school time” activities as a critical need for Greater Cleveland’s children. Mentoring is a proven best practice that can lead to social-emotional growth, improved academic performance and better school attendance. Not only does United Way support mentoring programs through its funding, the Young Leaders also volunteer with Boys and Girls Clubs at the very same King Kennedy housing complex featured on

Visit to read the stories and experience how poverty truly affects so many people in our region.


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We’re Setting Bold Goals

Kara PorterHow do you envision Greater Cleveland in five years?  Is the community more vibrant?  More connected?  Are all of the people who live here thriving?  Is it known as a great place to live, work and raise a family?

Here at United Way of Greater Cleveland, we are mobilizing our community to make those things happen.  And we will not rest until we have a  healthy community where every child succeeds in school and every individual and family is financially stable.  As the saying goes, you achieve what you can measure, so we’ve set some measureable goals for our work. Continue reading “We’re Setting Bold Goals”

It’s Time to Think Big

Kara PorterOver the past year United Way of Greater Cleveland has been listening to the community.  The more we have heard, the more we recognize that small changes are no longer enough to help individuals and families in Greater Cleveland. It’s time to think big.

Big change is what United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Community Impact Agenda is all about.  The volunteers on our Community Impact teams underwent an intense process of gathering information and feedback from stakeholders ranging from the community we serve to agencies to experts from the field.  What we learned is that no matter who you are in our community, you probably want the same thing – a healthy community where every kid graduates from high school and everyone can achieve financial stability. Our priorities and strategies in education, income and health will get us closer to the community we all want. Continue reading “It’s Time to Think Big”