5 Takeaways from United Way's 2024 'Opportunity Summit'

Meaningful change doesn't happen overnight; it requires tenacity and commitment. It requires us to persevere in the face of adversity. But what happens when challenges seem insurmountable, and we question whether we’ll succeed? 

At United Way's 2024 OpportUNITY Summit, our speakers helped us explore staying the course, even in the face of challenges. Here are five key takeaways from this year’s OpportUNITY Summit to help you stay with your vision. 

1. Every Challenge is Preparation

In her fireside chat with Rev. Dr. Allyn Waller, Mayor Cherelle L. Parker shared how she has stayed true to herself and her vision to create meaningful change for Philadelphia despite the demands and pressures of public office. Mayor Parker emphasized that every struggle and challenge we face is not a setback but preparation for the future. She encouraged us to view obstacles as opportunities to grow and strengthen our resolve.

2. It’s the Marriage, Not the Wedding

Carla Javits, Senior Advisor and former CEO of REDF, gave us an insightful analogy. She reminded us that while large events and big moments—the 'weddings'—are important, the true essence of our mission lies in the day-to-day efforts—the 'marriage.' It's the ongoing, sometimes tedious work that makes a real difference, and it’s by concentrating on these continuous efforts that we will make a lasting and meaningful impact.

3. Find Your “Why”

David Brown and Danielle Cohn delivered a session that delved into the core of personal motivation. They encouraged us to reflect on our "why"—the underlying reasons for our dedication to this cause. Because when our work aligns with our deepest motivations, we remain energized and committed, no matter the challenges we face.

4. Focus on the People Behind the Work

Xavier McElrath-Bey's keynote address was a powerful testament to transformation and perseverance. At 13, Xavier was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a gang-related murder – emerging 12 years later with a remorseful heart, a bachelor’s degree, and a mission to advocate for poor, disadvantaged, and at-risk youth. Xavier's journey from incarceration to advocacy highlighted the profound impact of empathy and support. His story reminded us we need to keep the people we serve at the forefront and ensure our work, our vision, is centered in compassion.

5. No One Can Do It Alone

United Way President and CEO Bill Golderer emphasized a fundamental truth in his remarks: no one person, no one organization, can achieve their goals alone. He referred to you as the "go-to" people, emphasizing that when partnership is needed, this community consistently rises to the occasion. It takes a collective effort to drive meaningful change, and United Way is immensely grateful for your support. With you, we can fulfill our vision to end poverty and expand opportunity for all.

By Alyssa Bradley