February 6, 2013
United Way of Passaic County Adds Services to the Financial Empowerment Zone
January 25, 2013
Leslie Schlessinger, Program Manager
Financial Empowerment Zone
Cell: (201) 214-3630
Office: (973) 279-8900 Ext. 205
Way of Passaic County Adds Services to the Financial
Paterson, NJ— Yvonne Zuidema, President and CEO of United Way of Passaic County (UWPC) announced today the return of free tax preparation
assistance and the kickoff of two new programs: Financial Aid U and Free
Financial and Credit Counseling, under the banner of United Way’s Financial
Empowerment Zone. Zuidema, along with
United Way board members, were joined by Paterson Public Schools officials,
City and County officials, Newark Now, AARP and the IRS, for the announcement.
The Financial Aid U program assists
low-income and first generation college students and their families in
identifying and accessing financial aid resources for post-secondary education.
In the program’s first year United Way
is working with Paterson Public Schools, and the Guidance Department in
particular, to deliver the services to Paterson students. “Access to financial aid is critical for our
youth, but unfortunately many of our high school students ‘convince’ themselves
out of college because of the complexity of financial aid,” said Zuidema.
“Financial Aid U will advise high school students on how to apply for the
financial resources they need to achieve their dreams of higher education,”
In addition to providing FAFSA
filing assistance, Financial Aid U offers financial education workshops on a
variety of essential topics related to college applications and budgeting for
Aid U is a national effort of the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) and
provides assistance with the completion of the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms along with
financial education. UWPC is one of eight organizations nationwide chosen to implement
this program because of extensive experience providing tax preparation and
financial education services in their local community.
Free Financial and Credit Counseling Services is the third program to
be offered by the Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ). United Way has contracted with non-profit
agency Newark Now to provide an accredited credit counselor onsite one day a
week at the UWPC Center City Mall location.
This new service addresses the need for face-to-face credit counseling
services, of which there were previously none available in Passaic County.
The service will offer one-on-one
financial coaching, address credit and debt issues, and create personal action
plans and budgets. The outcomes will include increased credit scores, reduced
interest payments, increased savings and the establishment of main stream bank
“It’s easy to get into debt. It’s much harder to get out of it,” said
Zuidema. “Newark Now is a well-respected nonprofit organization with experience
offering credit counseling to the Newark community. We are pleased to be able
to make available face-to-face credit counseling services from a reputable
non-profit organization that shares our mission of improving the financial
stability of families.”
The Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ) is in its third year of providing free tax preparation and benefits counseling.
Over 500 individuals and families used the tax filing service last year
receiving over $400,000 in total refunds and saving almost $100,000 in tax
preparation and filing fees. The UWPC
will again be partnering with AARP and Newark Now to provide this service in
Paterson. IRS-certified volunteer tax
preparers will be available on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 15
at two Paterson locations.
26% of income tax returns prepared by the FEZ in 2012 qualified to receive
the Earned Income Credit – one of the highest percentages in the state among
non-profit tax assistance programs. The
Earned Income Credit is notable for being one of the federal government’s most
powerful income stabilization strategies available for working families.
United Way of Passaic County’s Financial Empowerment Zone
helps individuals and families increase their income, become more financially
stable and achieve long-term economic independence.
About United Way’s Financial Empowerment Zone Partners:
AARP Tax-Aide and Vita certified volunteers provide free
tax help to taxpayers with low- and moderate income with special attention
given to those age 60 years and older in the preparation of their tax
returns. The AARP Tax-Aide volunteers
are trained and IRS certified each year to ensure that they are knowledgeable
of both the U.S. and State of N.J. tax codes. In 2012, over 35,000 AARP Tax-Aide volunteers
worked at nearly 6000 community around the country, helping 2.6 million people
navigate complicated tax codes, receive proper tax credits and deductions, and
file their federal and state tax returns last year.
Newark Now’s Financial Empowerment Center connects people to free financial and legal counseling,
public benefits, tax credits and a host of other financial empowerment
opportunities, in a single location.
November 19, 2012
United Way of Passaic County Announces availability of Mini Grants for Youth Mentoring and Literacy Programs
As a continuation of the United Way of Passaic County's commitment to improving high
school graduation rates across the county we are seeking proposals from youth
service organizations operating program targeted at providing mentoring and
literacy services focused on increasing academic success.
Research indicated that early grade reading proficiency is
critical to a child’s continued academic success. Typically children are learning to read till
the 3rd grade, by 4th grade they are reading to learn. Children who are not
reading proficiently by 4th grade often have difficulty keeping up with course
work leading to poor academic performance and disengaging from school. Sadly
research shows that children who are not reading at grade level by the end of
3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Another key milestone for a child’s long-term
academic achievement is middle school success. National data indicates that
poor transition into and out of high school is strongly linked to high school
For the 2013 calendar year United Way of Passaic County will provide four mini grants, up to
$5,000 each, to support enhancement and expansion of mentoring programs that seek to provide
students with the academic and emotional skills needed to successfully
transition in and out of middle school as well as literacy programs aimed at
increase students’ reading proficiency. Specifically UWPC is seeking proposals from agencies with
established programs or projects that are “shovel ready” (able to be
implemented quickly) as well as effectively utilize community volunteers in
To learn more about this funding opportunity click here
November 7, 2012
United Way of Passaic County Unveils “The Push Report”
United Way of Passaic County Unveils “The Push Report”
Paterson, NJ— The United Way of Passaic County- spearheading the Passaic County Food Policy Council, in partnership with CUMAC-ECHO reported the results detailed in the PUSH REPORT. PUSH stands for Passaic County United To Stop Hunger.
The PUSH REPORT details an action plan that will make a real difference in ending hunger in Passaic County including:
Institutions adopting healthier food procurement practices
Schools adopting “wellness policies” for both students and employees
Increasing household skills in basic cooking and nutrition
Increasing the number of children who have access to the School Breakfast Program
Offering transportation assistance to supermarket shoppers
Increasing public messages of healthy eating and good nutrition
Removing barriers in the food stamp application process
Bringing full service grocery stores and “healthy corner stores” to underserved areas
“Passaic County is a caring and compassionate community, “ said Yvonne Zuidema, President and CEO of United Way of Passaic County, “the conviction to end hunger has brought together a dedicated group of individuals who have been studying data and coming up with strategies for solving the problems of food access, availability and affordability.”
The Passaic County Food Policy Council has created an action plan organized by four areas:
Today’s unveiling of the PUSH REPORT comes as a solution to the data detailed on in the “Where’s the Food?” report released in February, highlighting who is hungry and why. Alarming facts were reported at that time, including over 32,000 individuals in Passaic County are food insecure and 35% of those surveyed say “it’s harder to get enough food now” than it was a year ago.
To emphasize the enormity of the issue and to begin to work on the solutions locally, the PUSH REPORT was released on National Food Day. Food Day is a nationwide celebration of, and movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food culminating in a day of action on October 24 every year.
November 7, 2012
FSR Outfits Local Kids with Tools for Schools
FSR Outfits Local Kids with Tools for School
Manufacturer’s Participation in United Way’s “Backpacks 4 Kids” Program Provides Much Needed Supplies
Woodland Park, NJ (October, 2012) -- FSR, a Passaic County-based manufacturer, has partnered with United Way of Passaic County to make sure that local students have the supplies they need to maximize their school experience. FSR donated 50 backpacks stuffed with pens, pencils, erasers, crayons and notebooks, along with 50 lunch boxes to United Way for “Backpacks 4 Kids”, the organization’s school supply program - the largest of its kind in Passaic County.
Part of a larger United Way initiative and a combined effort between area businesses, “Backpacks 4 Kids” strives to send students back to school in the Fall armed with the tools they need to succeed.
“It’s our privilege to help the kids as they start a new school year,” said Jan Sandri, FSR’s president. “FSR is a part of the fabric of Passaic County, and we continue to support the United Way and their staff in their unwavering belief that children from any walks of life can succeed if they have the proper tools.”
“Education is one of the primary building blocks of a successful career and financial stability,” said said Yvonne Zuidema, CEO/President of the United Way of Passaic County. “We are grateful to Jan Sandri and FSR, as well as our other local businesses, for their generous support of programs that help cultivate the community leaders of the future.”
FSR manufactures audio and video switching, control products, and connectivity boxes, from its headquarters in Woodland Park, NJ.
FSR, established in 1981, manufactures a wide variety of products for the audio / video, education, hospitality, government, and religious markets, including AV floor, wall, table, and ceiling connectivity boxes, as well as a full line of interfaces, distribution amplifiers, matrix switchers, seamless switchers and CAT-5 solutions.
All FSR products are designed and manufactured in its Woodland Park, NJ facility. The company is an Energy Star Partner and complies with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to demonstrate its deep commitment to preserving the planet. FSR offers live 24/7 technical and sales support throughout the country from expertly trained technicians and sales representatives. For more information: www.fsrinc.com.
November 6, 2012
United Way Offers Plan to Combat Hunger in Passaic County
PATERSON – A group of organizations led by the United Way of Passaic County presented an action plan Wednesday to combat hunger in the county.|
Building on a federally funded study published by the United Way in February, which found that 11,000 county households have difficulty meeting their food needs, the new plan calls for steps to improve the affordability and availability of healthy food.
"Food is at the heart of everything important in our communities," said Yvonne Zuidema, president of the United Way. "A hungry child at school is not learning."
Zuidema said the plan presented by the Passaic County Food Policy Council is a starting point.
"It champions and commits us to work for each goal. We're going to put project plans together and look for funding," she added.
Improving the availability and accessibility of healthy food is one of the plan's top goals. The February report noted that many urban county residents, particularly in Paterson, simply don't have a supermarket or large grocery store in their neighborhood. And many of those living in rural communities can't get to stores because adequate public transportation is lacking.
The report calls on county officials and community organizations to work with major food retailers to advocate for them to underwrite the costs of shuttle services.
Uche Akobundu, director of the United Way's Hunger-Free Communities project, pointed out that in some communities, store owners have helped fund such projects as the refurbishing of a school bus used to transport isolated shoppers to and from groceries. Akobundu noted that the customers and the stores benefited in the long run: Shoppers gained access and the groceries gained new customers.
The report also calls for expanding community development efforts to bring new groceries to underserved communities.
It also recommends expanding and promoting community gardens, farmers' markets and other alternative food sources to improve the quality of food available and hold down its cost.
Improving nutrition education for consumers is another recommendation. The report notes a variety of programs that could be built upon, from educational programs in the schools to one operated by ShopRite supermarkets in Little Falls and Passaic that provide in-store dietitians to help shoppers.
Zuidema urged more community groups to work with the Food Policy Council committees to get the plan off the ground.
The report is still in draft form but will be posted on the United Way's website shortly, she added
Click here to view original article.
November 5, 2012
NEW FITNESS ZONE INSTALLED AT LITTLE FALLS SCHOOL NO. 1
Part of the NFL-United Way’s Hometown Huddle InitiativeLittle Falls, NJ: The New York Football Giants installed a giants-themed Youth Fitness Zone at Little Falls School No. 1 on Tuesday, October 16. The event was part of the NFL-United Way’s Hometown Huddle league-wide day of service, youth health and fitness awareness initiative. The fitness zone has multiple pieces of fitness equipment – including Squat Press, Shoulder Press, Ab Crunch to name a few – and a refurbished basketball court, which will be accessible to all students. Giants players – Bear Pascoe # 86, Tight End; Prince Amukamara # 20, Corner Back; Domenik Hixon #87, Wide Receiver; Kevin Boothe #77, Guard – assisted in putting the finishing touches on the fitness room. In addition, Giants Strength-and-Conditioning Coach Markus Paul joined by other front office staff and United Way volunteers provided instruction on how to safely use the school’s new equipment to a preselected group of students.
The celebration also joined by Little Falls Mayor, Darlene Post, who recited the pledge of PLAY60 with Physical Education Teacher, Pamela Porter.
In April, Little Fall students took the NFL PLAY60 Challenge with the Giants. For the entire month, they focused on developing healthy eating habits and maintaining an active lifestyle. Tuesday, the Giants celebrated their new healthy choices and encouraged them to continue making good choices by eating healthy and to PLAY60 every day.
Little Falls School No. 1 is located at 32 Stevens Avenue, Little Falls, N.J. 07424.
To learn more about the Giants Hometown Huddle and PLAY60 initiatives, visit Giants.com.
About Hometown Huddle
Since 1999, NFL teams have participated in a variety of hands-on community service projects, known collectively as Hometown Huddle. The NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle is a league-wide day of service designed to bring awareness and impact to the issue of youth health and fitness. During Hometown Huddle, NFL players, coaches and leadership participate in a variety of youth fitness projects in different NFL cities across the country on the same day—building fitness zones, hosting youth football clinics, rebuilding neighborhood playgrounds, upgrading fitness facilities.
The United Way/NFL partnership connects NFL PLAY60 with United Way’s goal of 1.9 million more healthy young people by 2018. Designed to tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations like United Way. PLAY60 is also implemented locally, as part of the NFL's in-school, after-school and team-based programs. Since the program was launched in 2007, the NFL has committed $200 million to youth health and fitness through programming, grants, and media time for public service announcements.
About Youth Fitness Zone
The Youth Fitness Zone initiative takes many shapes and sizes: playgrounds, gymnasium refurbishments, activity trails, and interactive fitness technology installations are among the more than 75 projects that have taken place since the program began three years ago. In many cases, NFL Charities and NFL teams will continue to develop Youth Fitness Zones as part of the Hometown Huddle day of service initiative, combining efforts to create one lasting legacy in the
local community in the spirit of NFL PLAY60.
About NFL PLAY60
A rise in the obesity rates among today’s youth as well as the decline of physical education programs in schools across the country have prompted the NFL to take a leadership role in the movement to get youngsters physically fit. NFL PLAY60 was officially launched in October of 2007 to help increase the health of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.
NFL PLAY60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with an impressive roster of national partners, all working to make the next generation active and healthy. In addition to its national reach through PSAs and online programs, NFL PLAY60 is also implemented at the grassroots level through the NFL’s in-school and team-based programs including the NFL PLAY60 Challenge.
November 1, 2012
United Way Announces Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund
United Way Announces Regional Fund for Communities Hardest Hit by Sandy Throughout the Eastern Seaboard
Donations to Support Near-Term and Long-Term Recovery
Donate at uwsandyrecovery.org or by texting RECOVERY to 52000
New York, NY—United Way today announced the creation of the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund
(#sandyfund). Contributions to the Fund will be used by local United
Ways along the Eastern Seaboard to address the near-term and long-term
recovery needs of communities most affected by the hurricane. In
addition, the Fund will be utilized to bolster United Way’s community
impact partners that serve Hurricane affected individuals and families
who are already vulnerable -- struggling with food insecurity and the
ability meet their most basic needs.
At the request of and in coordination with United Way U.S.A., United
Way of New York City will lead fundraising efforts and ensure that all
funds are used efficiently and effectively to serve those in need.
United Way of New York City will charge no administrative fees.
"We know that communities experiencing disasters of this magnitude
have immediate and urgent needs, but often the greatest needs occur with
the intermediate and long-term recovery and rebuilding of lives and
communities. That's the role of United Way," says United Way U.S.A.
President Stacey Stewart. "With leadership from United Way of New York
City, our network of United Ways across the region and the country came
together to create this recovery fund, and we will use it to strengthen
the communities we rebuild."
“In this unprecedented situation, we know that those New Yorkers who
struggle on a regular basis will have the hardest time getting back on
their feet from the effects of Hurricane Sandy,” said Sheena Wright,
President and CEO of United Way of New York City. “Here in New York, we
will be working through our community partners who are on the ground to
make sure that low-income individuals and families impacted by the
hurricane are getting the services they need when and where they need it
Contributions to the Fund will be used by local United Ways in
Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, DC
and West Virginia to address recovery needs in communities that FEMA has
declared disaster areas. Taken together, the United Ways participating
in the fund annually serve 11.9 million people, including over 1
million people served by the United Way of New York City. In the areas
where the fund is operating, Hurricane Sandy has affected almost 8
United Way has a history of immediate response in times of need.
Following the 9/11 attacks, United Way of New York City created the
September 11th Fund in partnership with the New York
Community Trust, raising and distributing over $500 million. Following
the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, United Way of NYC partnered
with the Brooklyn Community Foundation to found and fund the NYC
Haitian Hope & Healing Fund to address the short and long-term needs
of affected individuals residing in New York. And following last year’s
Hurricane Irene, United Way of New York State set up the Hurricane
Irene Recovery Fund to help those in need.
Donations to the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund can be made online at uwsandyrecovery.org. A $10 donation can be made by texting the word RECOVERY to 52000. Promote the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund on Twitter using #sandyfund.
May 21, 2012
United Way of Passaic County Announces Call for Program Partners
Way of Passaic County is pleased to announce the opening of two separate calls
for program partners, supporting our work in the areas of child nutrition and
financial stability in Passaic County.
call for partners process, the United Way of Passaic County will be seeking to
partner with non-profit early childhood centers in Passaic County to replicate
the Nutrition Matters program, through a combination of grant funding and
in-kind support provided through this Request for Proposals.
to high rates of obesity and related health problems among preschoolers who
live in poverty, United Way of Passaic County created the Nutrition Matters
initiative in 2006. The purpose of Nutrition
Matters is to provide preschool children and their parents with valuable
education about healthy lifestyles and hands-on experiences through classroom-
and home-based activities. Research shows that children in early childhood and
care settings develop attitudes towards nutrition and physical activity that
persist into older childhood and adulthood. The Nutrition Matters initiative
presents a tremendous opportunity to prevent obesity by providing education on
healthy and active lifestyles for young children and their families.
To learn more about Nutrition Matters
and the Request for Proposal process click here
Way of Passaic County is also seeking program partners to complement and
enhance the current work of the Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ), an initiative
of UWPC that strives to lift low-income individuals in Passaic County out of
poverty by helping them to increase their income. Through the FEZ low-income
individuals are able to access: free income tax preparation & filing,
benefits screening & enrollment, as well as participate in Financial
In order to
complement and enhance the current work of the Financial Empowerment Zone, UWPC is seeking proposals for a non-profit
agency to provide licensed Credit Counseling Service a minimum of one day a
week on site at UWPC’s offices in Paterson, NJ.
program will provide a combination of grant funding and in-kind support to the
selected credit counseling partner. UWPC
will provide one selected agency with funding, along with the space and
administrative infrastructure (private office, internet connectivity, and
printing/copying facilities) needed to deliver credit counseling services. UWPC
will also work in partnership with the selected agency to provide community
outreach, identify consumers in need of credit counseling and coordinate
appointment setting for services.
To learn more about the Credit
Counseling Request for Proposal process click here
March 19, 2012
Yvonne Zuidema, CEO/President of the United Way of Passaic County To Be Honored At NewBridge Celebration
Paterson , NJ - United Way of Passaic County is proud to announce that Yvonne Zuidema has been honored as a 2011 NewBridge Services’ “Helping People Move Forward” award winner. Zuidema will receive the award during NewBridge Service’s Celebrate The Magic of NewBridge, on March 29, 2012 at The Villa at Mountain Lakes .
Since her appointment as CEO/President of the United Way of Passaic County in 2001, Ms. Zuidema has developed UWPC programs that meet community needs, responded quickly and effectively to community crisises, and has achieved successful, measurable outcomes for each program. Most recently, she has presented a groundbreaking report on hunger and food access in Passaic County; and established the Financial Empowerment Zone, which provides free financial literacy and tax services to Passaic County residents.
“Yvonne is committed to strengthening communities by providing leadership to build a strong community response to those most in need,’’ said Robert L. Parker, chief executive officer of NewBridge, a nonprofit community provider of behavioral health and educational programs and services. “She exemplifies the spirit of New Bridge in helping people find balance in their lives.’’
Other award winners include Laurie Becker of the Morris County Department of Human Services, and TD Bank.
The NewBridge annual fundraiser includes hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, a dessert buffet, and silent auction. Admission is $135 per person. For support opportunities or reservations, contact Nina McCormack, NewBridge’s chief development and marketing officer, at 973-839-2521 , ext. 2246, or visit www.newbridge.org.
February 29, 2012
Where's the Food Report now available on-line
In 2011, United Way in partnership with CUMAC, received a
Hunger-Free Community grant from the USDA to investigate
food insecurity and food access in Passaic County. The
Where’s the Food? report draws from information obtained
from community-based surveys, focus group meetings, GIS
mapping and reviews of federal, state and local reports.
Food insecurity (limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally
adequate and safe food) in Passaic County is
among the highest in New Jersey. Food affordability is the
leading concern, especially among disabled, the un/underemployed,
native American , and single-parent with child
households. Access to full-service grocery stores is a
concern in some Paterson neighborhoods. Knowledge of
nutrition and food preparation is lacking among certain
groups. Alternative food access is not being utilized to its
full potential (home gardening, CSA’s, co-ops, community
All of these concerns result in access to less-nutritious food
choices as well as children and families with poor nutrition
knowledge and habits.
To read the entire Where’s the Food? Report click here
February 28, 2012
Assistance Still Available for Victims of Hurricane Irene
Assistance is still available for individuals affected by Hurricane Irene
As the Long-Term Recovery process continues in Passaic County help is still available for individuals who are struggling to regain normalcy. Families and Individuals affected by Hurricane Irene still in need of assistance should contact Catholic Family & Community Services at 973- 279-7100 to register for Disaster Case-Management Services. Through Disaster Case Management Services families & individuals will receive assistance developing a Long-Term Recovery Plan, filing claim appeals to FEMA and insurance companies as well as applying for financial assistance to address unmet needs.
United Way of Passaic County has established a special Flood Relief & Recovery Fund to aid those most affected in Passaic County by Hurricane Irene. Funding is being distributed to assist victims with long-term recovery efforts as part of an ongoing community effort to meet needs of affected individuals and families. To apply for support from the Flood Relief & Recovery Fund please contact Catholic Family & Community Services at 973- 279-7100. Individuals must be registered with disaster case-management services to be eligible to request financial assistance from the fund. All applications to the Flood Relief & Recovery Fund will be made by a disaster case-manager on behalf of clients. Affected individuals and families should not apply directly to the United Way of Passaic County.
If you are interested in supporting the United Way Flood Relief & Recovery Fund please click here , or send a check payable to United Way of Passaic County 2011 Flood Relief & Recovery Fund, 20 Mill Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.
February 13, 2012
2012 Vincent D. Pavese Scholarship Application Available
United Way of Passaic County Announces
Availabitity of 2012 Vincent D. Pavese Scholarship Application
February 13, 2012 - Paterson, NJ:
United Way of Passaic County has announced that applications are now available for the 2012 Vincent D. Pavese Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded annually to a Passaic County high school senior who has exhibited a commitment to community service and plans to pursue a career in public service.
The scholarship was established 19 years ago, as a memorial to Vincent D. Pavese, a former President and Chief Professional Officer of United Way of Passaic County. Pavese held this office until his death in January 1993. Each year, a special review panel reviews the applications to determine which student has most closely fulfilled the requirements of the scholarship.
Scholarship applicants must plan to attend an accredited college or university upon graduation from high school. Eligible applicants must also qualify for financial aid and plan to pursue a career in public service (government, social work, education, recreation, public health and welfare, law enforcement, etc.) Applications and criteria information are available on United Way of Passaic County’s website and at high school guidance offices.
Deadline for application submission is Monday May 21, 2012. This $1,500 scholarship will be presented at United Way of Passaic County’s 2012 Annual Meeting, which will be held at in June.
Questions regarding the application process including requests for applications should be directed to Caroline Schneider via email: email@example.com