Alliance-UNCA Merger: 2015 Will Tell the Tale

It should always be noted when an organization threaded into the fabric of American history comes to an end. So it was in October, when it was announced that the United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA), the courier of Jane Addams’ settlement house movement, would cease to exist for the first time since 1911.

While the sun has set on the organization, there is hope for a new dawn as far as the mission goes. This month, UNCA ushered all of its member organizations into the Alliance for Children and Families, the Milwaukee-based nonprofit representing many of the largest private child welfare and juvenile justice organizations in the country.

It is not a combination of foreign entities. UNCA has been affiliated with the Alliance for seven years ago, sharing staff and operation. And both sides of the merger have been effusive in their support for one another.

Says Alliance CEO Susan Dreyfus of UNCA: “I really think this is UNCA’s moment. Yet here we were, operating it as a separate member group and not proliferating their values.

When they looked at what their ultimate mission was, it was not to be a membership organization. it was to propel values across America.”

Says former UNCA President Ian Bautista: Members of both boards “have taken every step to assure this change accelerates the mission, values, and strengths of UNCA, while seeking more meaningful impact on society and greater benefit for members.”

And Dreyfus, he told YSI, has “connected on a human level to the broader stakeholder group.”

The immediate effect of this merging is that the Alliance grows its ranks by about 30 percent, and presumably retains the continued financial support of UNCA’s most consistent backer, food services giant ARAMARK.

Will the relationship thrive? Ask again in 2015.

The merger increases the number of members the Alliance has by about 30 percent. All of the 150 UNCA members have been incorporated into the membership at no additional cost; they just have to pay their UNCA membership rate.

Next year, though, the dues begin to escalate toward the standard Alliance rates, and there is a significant difference. The highest dues level for UNCA, $1,500, is the lowest rate for the Alliance, which charges its largest members $20,000.

The leadership of both groups are confident this is the best move to sustain and grow the cause of community centers and settlement houses. The members will have a chance to voice their confidence with dollars next year.

Youth Services Insider is mostly written by Chronicle Editor-in-Chief John Kelly

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.