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Triangle United Way names 2021’s ’10 to Watch’ leaders of diverse nonprofits

After reviewing their funding portfolio in 2018, leaders of the United Way of the Greater Triangle noticed that of the nonprofits they were supporting, those led by men had three times the assets as those led by women and people of color.

That’s when they came up with the “10 to Watch” list, an initiative that grants $50,000 spread out over two years to 10 nonprofit leaders and their organizations.

The goal of the program is “to directly address racial, gender, and resource disparities in leadership,” said Nick Allen, United Way’s chief program officer, in an email to The News & Observer.

“Historically, philanthropy has predetermined what successful nonprofit leadership and organizations look like. This has led to the diversity and equity disparities that we experience today,” Allen said.

“10 to Watch seeks to disrupt that structure by intentionally investing in the under-represented and under-resourced nonprofit leaders so that they lead the charge in redefining, for the Triangle, success in community impact and the look of transformational leadership,” Allen said.

The United Way just announced its second “10 to Watch” cohort, highlighting 10 “high-impact organizations” in the Greater Triangle. The majority are led by women of color.

We asked each person about their organization, their roles and how they will use their grants.


Joy Spencer, executive director of Equity Before Birth

Equity Before Birth is a Black maternal health charity organization. It is celebrating its first year this fall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related causes than white women, with socioeconomic disparities being among the leading causes. According to Joy Spencer, Equity Before Birth’s mission is to save the lives of Black birthing people by increasing access to quality perinatal services and support.

“We cover the cost of perinatal services and provide direct cash assistance to Black birthing people,” Spencer said. “We do not provide direct services but we do cover the cost of health care, education and support services.”



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