United Way of Tarrant County leaders pledged to fundraise $100 million in funds to address social, economic, health and safety issues residents face during a centennial celebration Thursday in front of Arlington’s Globe Life Field.

Leah King, United Way of Tarrant County president, said the celebration was a reflection of its first 100 years of work in the community–and how much more work remains unfinished.

She pointed to a long car line adjacent to the press event for Tarrant Area Food Bank distribution as proof of the need in the community.

“I think all of you who got caught in the line for the food bank this morning got to see that really up front and very personal. It’s real, folks. It’s real, and people are struggling,” King said.

King and other speakers noted Tarrant County’s 32nd-place ranking for health in the state, food insecurity rates that sit 40% above the national average, and housing that is unaffordable to at least 100,000 residents.

“We love Tarrant County, but we need to make sure you also understand that the facts of some of the circumstances that exist in Tarrant County don’t lie,” King said.

King says the organization is focused on four areas: community health, community response, financial empowerment, and education.

She added that United Way of Tarrant County, in addition to coalescing local nonprofits, also incubates a myriad of programs and services, including programming on aging, Mission United, Braver Together and One Second Collaborative.

Speakers, then audience members, unveiled a United Way mural that was hidden by more than 350 magnets bearing one of the county’s 64 ZIP codes, as well as facts about county demographics and disparities, such as the life expectancy of residents in Fort Worth’s 76104 ZIP code that is 12 years lower than the national average.

Former Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams and his wife, Karen Williams, announced they will head United Way of Tarrant County’s Second Century Campaign that will oversee the fundraising effort. Williams called on leaders to rally their communities.

“We have seen so many needs. In fact, every day, people are coming to the mayors of their cities, they’re coming out to the nonprofits of their cities crying for help,” Jeff Williams said.

Williams says United Way has received large donations from GM Financial, the Rainwater Foundation, BNSF Railway, Tarrant County, Fort Worth city government and the Paul E. Andrews, Jr. Foundation.


Disclosure: Rainwater Foundation is a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report.


Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.

Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability. Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.