Editorial: Let’s hope the Urban League’s optimism is contagious

Editorial: Let’s hope the Urban League’s optimism is contagious
June 29
05:00 2017

The annual meeting of the Winston-Salem Urban League was held on a dreary day, June 22, but the atmosphere at the meeting was upbeat. The organization is working with a $12,000 deficit, but you couldn’t tell that by the members and officers there.

This atmosphere compares to what the Urban League faced three years ago.

Former leader Keith Grandberry had resigned after some on the board questioned his leadership and abilities to manage the agency. Don Williams was named the interim president/CEO in February 2014.

Williams said the board quickly determined after he was hired that he would need more than six months to fix some of the agency’s longstanding problems, including finances. The six months lasted more than a year.

On Jan. 4, 2016, James Perry started as president and chief executive after a nationwide search. He came from New Orleans.

Perry walked into some trouble when the United Way cut funds it was giving the Urban League. Recently, the Urban League, a nonprofit designed to promote social and economic progress through education, training, and civic engagement, averted another budget cut, this time from Forsyth County regarding its mental health program.

On June 22, a packed room of supporters of the Winston-Salem Urban League came together to assess. It was reported during the meeting that in 2016, the organization helped thousands of people.

“At the end of the year, we’re going to be facing deficit of around $12,000,” Treasurer Kyle Haney said. “The CEO and the board decided to run at a deficit rather than make immediate program cuts so we can honor our commitment to the community.”

Ninety-six percent of the organization’s income came from grants, 3 percent came from donations and the remaining 1 percent came from service fees. Haney said the goal of the organization in the next fiscal year is to diversify its funding.

Officers expressed optimism about the future while urging members to increase their commitment to the organization.

One of the most optimistic things about this meeting is seeing the number of young people leading it, including James Perry and the chairwoman of the board, Alison Ashe-Card.

Ashe-Card encouraged the group at the end of the meeting. She thanked all who had come.

“There is so much excitement about where we are, knowing where we’ve been,” she said. “I hope you all take this ride with us because I hope you’re excited as we are.”

Let’s hope the enthusiasm is contagious.

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