United Way Kicks Off 2024 Pacesetter Campaign with $10.7 Million Goal

Leroy Abrahams, Head of Community Engagement at Regions Bank and Chair of this year’s United Way Campaign, speaks during the kickoff event for the Pacesetter Campaign, a summer fundraising charge preceding the fall campaign.

The services provided by United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) partners and programs can be counted among the reasons Birmingham third graders saw massive improvements in reading proficiency, said Leroy Abrahams, Head of Community Engagement for Regions Bank, at this year’s kickoff event for UWCA’s 2024 Pacesetter Campaign.

“One of the reasons that increase happened is because those kids have services that allow them to eat, to have better housing security, to be tutored,” Abrahams said. “Those things weren’t happening, to the same degree, several years ago. They’re happening now [in part through United Way programs] and it allows those kids to be more successful.”

Among the many community services provided by or through UWCA is a program pairing tutors with hundreds of students in the Birmingham City Schools (BCS) system.

Abrahams was speaking as Chair of UWCA’s annual fall campaign during a kickoff event for the organization’s summer fundraiser known as the Pacesetter Campaign. He congratulated BCS Superintendent Mark Sullivan, Ed.D and said the recent success of students in Birmingham will have generational benefits.

“What happens when these kids are more successful is that the next generation also becomes more successful, because kids who get to eat do better in school, and kids who do better in school don’t get into as much trouble,” Abrahams said. “They’re more successful, and they earn more money, and they can provide for their family, so the next generation benefits as well.”

Through this year’s Pacesetter Campaign, which “sets the pace” for United Way’s annual campaign in the fall, dozens of local companies will conduct their own internal campaigns in support of the vital health and human services provided by UWCA. This year’s Pacesetter goal is $10.7 million.

Mike Kemp, founder of Kemp Management Solutions (KMS) and Chair of this year’s Pacesetter Campaign, said the companies involved in this campaign are “paving the way” for others throughout the year.

Mike Kemp, founder of Kemp Management Solutions and Chair of this year’s Pacesetter Campaign

“What we do now will directly impact and improve the lives of people right here in our community. They are counting on us, and they are counting on you,” Kemp said. “Be somebody who makes a difference.”

The theme for this year’s workplace campaign is “Be Somebody.” It’s a response to the common question concerning a specific problem, “Why doesn’t somebody do something to help?” And it highlights the importance of each individual (each Somebody) to the overall impact that United Way has in Central Alabama.

Maryhelen Kirkpatrick, Alabama’s Executive Director of the American Cancer Society, said while the theme most obviously applies to volunteering and donating to UWCA, it applies even more broadly to everyday life.

“Think about how that relates to your life,” said Kirkpatrick. “Whether it’s in your family, whether it’s in the workplace or whether it’s just building margin in your day to see if there’s somebody to whom you can maybe lend a helping hand or an ear.”

Sponsors for the Pacesetter event, held at the Florentine in downtown Birmingham, included Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, AmFirst and Mercedes Benz U.S. International.

Approximately 150 attendees also heard from three other community leaders:

  • Darnell Gardner, lifelong Fairfield resident and former Fairfield City Council President
  • Terri Harvill, Chief Social Impact Officer for YMCA of Greater Birmingham
  • Joan Wright, Executive Director of Childcare Resources

Their topics covered some of the various ways that United Way is addressing vital areas of need in the community, including access to services, food insecurity and childcare for working families.

Three “Loaned Executives” are on temporary leave from their normal duties to dedicate their time and efforts to a significant amount of fundraising during the Pacesetter Campaign. Kyle Puchta from Regions Bank, Chris Sahawneh from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Rylee Vaughn from United Way will be hard at work throughout the summer – encouraging as many individuals as possible to step up and “Be Somebody” who makes a life-changing difference in our community.