By providing support through its Destination Graduation program, Heart of Florida United Way helped Sara move one step closer to her dream of becoming a nurse. 

Growing up in the foster care system, Sara worked tirelessly to pave her way into college. She dreamed of becoming a nurse and was determined to turn that dream into a reality.

“A lot of people don’t see it, but when I look around a hospital, there are lots of beautiful moments happening all around,” Sara said. “I want to contribute to that.”

Sara was excelling in college while also balancing two jobs to cover the bills. Then, the pandemic hit, and she was furloughed from both of her jobs. With no income, unemployment assistance, or a support system to turn to, she didn’t know what to do. 

Sara remembered seeing a poster at her school about Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) and decided to reach out for help. A HFUW case manager assessed her situation and shared details on a new program for graduation assistance.

“I was so relieved when my case manager called me to tell me that United Way was able to help,” said Sara. “I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.”

In partnership with Truist Foundation, HFUW’s Destination Graduation program through Seminole State College backed Sara with rental assistance. Destination Graduation allowed Sara to get back on her feet and return her sights to her goal of becoming a nurse.

“People need a support group to help them plan and overcome challenges,” she said. “United Way was that for me in this instance. They lifted me up.”

Truist Foundation—making a meaningful difference

Truist Foundation began supporting Destination Graduation in 2017. The program aims to increase graduation rates among low-income, first-generation, and veteran students attending Seminole State College. It helps students by providing on-site, comprehensive support, including travel and school supply vouchers, financial coaching, and tuition support.

“Truist Foundation is one of our most reliable partners,” said Jeff Hayward, president and CEO of HFUW. “After a devastating event impacts our community, Truist Foundation is the first organization we call. Oftentimes, they’ll offer assistance before we even get the chance to call them for help.”  

Since its inception in 2015, Destination Graduation has helped more than 800 students stay in college and has provided mentoring, tutoring, career planning, and college exposure to 26,000 high school students. Additionally, 70% of college students who received emergency persistence funds from the program re-enrolled in school or graduated the following semester.

“Our goal at Truist Foundation is to create long-lasting partnerships with organizations that are truly making a difference in Truist markets and align with our purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities,” said Lynette Bell, president of Truist Foundation. “By supporting students who are first-generation college-bound or from low-income backgrounds, Destination Graduation works to level the playing field, so all people are given equitable opportunities to thrive.” 

Truist Foundation’s support for local United Ways helps the organization execute and maintain its many programs, from working with children to providing COVID-19 recovery. 

Recognizing ongoing giving to build better lives

Truist Foundation’s work with HFUW and Destination Graduation is just one small piece of its broader partnership with local United Ways across Truist markets.

Through its new giving strategy, the foundation is also supporting United Way’s Impact Fund that aims to build economic stability by creating equitable and thriving communities. The Impact Fund has a multitude of components, including a 211 Information & Referral Crisis Line that provides community members with 24/7 resources and referrals following a disaster. The fund also supports workforce solutions re-entry, providing training and immediate job placement for citizens re-entering society from prison.

Every year, Truist holds a companywide workplace giving campaign throughout its markets that underscores the valuable commitment of Truist teammates in maintaining a strong relationship with the many local United Ways Truist supports. For the 2020-2021 annual campaign, Truist Foundation and Truist Charitable Fund gave over $4.5 million in grants to local United Ways.

 “Our workplace giving campaign is a moment in time where we can highlight our continued impact in partnership with United Way,” said Tammy Paycer, senior vice president and community development manager at Truist and HFUW board member. “We also provide ongoing volunteering through food drives, support for COVID-19 recovery, and hurricane disaster relief.”

In last year’s workplace giving campaign, teammates gave over $7 million in donations and pledges. While the campaign happens annually in the fall, Truist Foundation’s support for United Way is ongoing and making an impact across communities where Truist operates and its teammates live.

See more stories about the work Truist Foundation is doing.

About Truist Foundation

The Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. The Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on leadership development, economic mobility, thriving communities and educational equity.