Connect for Good: An Amazing Learning Experience

By United Way of King County, on December 20, 2019 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Emerging Leaders 365, Volunteering

This blog post was written by Asma Ahmed, a Starbucks Foundation Service Fellow. The Service Fellows program allows Starbucks baristas who are passionate about community service to work part-time in their Starbucks stores and to also work part-time at a local nonprofit organization. 

Participating in Connect for Good was eye-opening. I am currently a Starbucks Foundation Service Fellow working at United Way of King County with a primary focus on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. I had been deep in MLK Day outreach for a couple of months when I was offered the opportunity to participate in Connect for Good, an in-depth learning experience for volunteers and participating Emerging Leaders365 members, during which we would review and award service grants to organizations that are hosting MLK Day service projects. It aligned with the work I was doing, so I was excited to see how this could further help me with my work.  

There were two sessions. During the first one, we learned about how people of color are disproportionately impacted by homelessness, poverty, school readiness and academic achievement in King County. We then learned about the different programs that United Way funds to put a stop to these injustices. While it can be upsetting to hear the statistics, knowing what organizations like United Way are doing to combat these disparities made me hopeful. The Emerging Leaders 365 team taught us a bit about fundraising, and we all set up fundraising pages to reach to our personal and professional networks. 

We learned about how people of color are disproportionately impacted by homelessness, poverty, school readiness and academic achievement in King County.

In the second session, we reviewed the service grant applications and, using a points system based on the criteria we had been given, made tough decisions about which organizations would receive the grants. The Emerging Leaders 365 team opened up a discussion to consider ideas and opinions. The room grew very impassioned as we narrowed down the final few. With just enough time, we were able to pick all the grantees and choose a project for this Emerging Leaders 365 cohort to participate in on MLK Day. It felt like quite an accomplishment.  

I found Connect for Good to be a valuable experience: 

  • I learned about the process of grant-making 
  • I became familiar with the different projects on MLK Day, which aligns with my Fellow work 
  • I made friendships with Emerging Leaders 365 members with whom I will continue to stay in touch 

It was amazing to see so many young professionals donate their time to be a part of something so important. Connect for Good is a unique experience, and I would encourage more Emerging Leaders 365 to participate!  

Connect for Good with Emerging Leaders 365 

Connect for Good is an opportunity for a more in-depth volunteer experience. Participants learn from experts on how to see the issues through a racial equity lens, about the various programs that help the community, and how to fundraise using their existing personal and professional networks. They then roll up their sleeves and help out as hands-on volunteers.  


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