Tell us about yourself.
I’m Gigi Amateau, Chief Impact Officer at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. I’ve worked in the health and human services non-profit sector since 1988. Many of those years have been in service to older adults and people with disabilities. My undergraduate degree from VCU is in Urban Studies and Planning. (Go Rams!)
What is the focus of your work?
Our Community Impact agenda at United Way focuses on three areas: Education, Income, and Health. In short, we do our work so that people in our community will learn more, earn more, and lead safe and healthy lives.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I also write children’s literature. The themes that I always return to, whether in fiction or in real life, are belonging and access. It fulfills me to be in a position where every day I work alongside creative, data-driven people in order to foster a stronger sense of belonging for everyone who lives here and broader access to education, wealth, and health care for all people.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.
This year, United Way conducted its first open, competitive grant making process. We awarded $4.1 million to 63 programs that are poised to make measurable, lasting impact in the areas of Education, Income, and Health.
A major challenge in most philanthropic work is that the ceiling on funding levels is lower than the ceiling on worthy, results-based programs. Our rigorous, volunteer-led funding process helps us make the best decisions for most impact. Here are a couple of links where you can learn more about United Way’s Community Impact Program grants: A recent op-ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch and a list of our 2015-16 grantees.
What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?
We’ve set a five-year goal to eliminate social isolation for older adults and people with disabilities. There’s an incredibly persuasive body of evidence that proves one of the healthiest behaviors we can embrace as we age is to maintain strong, positive social ties.
On August 10th, United Way and our conference partners AARP Virginia, Family Lifeline, VA Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Senior Connections, and VCU Gerontology will host a day-long symposium on the health consequences of social isolation and the healthy benefits of social connections for older adults. Anyone interested should hold the date and email me: email@example.com to get on the event mailing list.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
ConnectVA is an essential tool in helping us to get the word out about funding opportunities, career recruitment, and upcoming events. I value ConnectVA as a platform because it’s intuitive, and the community of users is robust, diverse, and active.
Anything else you would like to share?
I am totally honored to work with United Way’s community impact volunteers. I am amazed at their devotion! Between 90 volunteers, they spent more than 2,300 hours reviewing applications and making funding recommendations.
Do you know someone who should be a ConnectVA Spotlight? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.