Vision, Mission & Focus

Mission Masthead: Blue Ridge Mountains



Ensuring our supporters, volunteers, donors, and partners understand who United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County is, why we exist, and how we help meet our community's most pressing issues, is of paramount importance.

To help ensure this, we've adopted the following vision, mission, focus, and guiding principles. Together they help to direct us as we work alongside our partners for the betterment of our community. 

VISION A united and resilient community where everyone belongs and everyone thrives.

MISSION We mobilize and support a robust network of people, partners, and resources to co-create opportunities for every person in our community to live free from poverty and injustice.

FOCUS We provide leadership, alignment, and support for United for Youth and Community Schools to elevate student success, support families, and engage communities throughout Buncombe County.

As we begin our second century of work we have put together a strategic plan that lays out a new vision, mission, and focus that will serve as a north star to all of our work.

Approved in 2023 by our full board of directors, the 23-25 Strategic Plan is an extension of our 21-23 plan and makes clear that aligning our work in support of United for Youth and the Bold Community Goal, as well as our community school strategy now serve as our main focus.

What factors went into this decision? 

We know that thriving and belonging in today’s society requires a high-quality education and that graduating from high school ready for college and/or a career is a powerful predictor of future economic and health outcomes.

We also know that academic success is too often undermined by issues related to hunger, homelessness, interpersonal violence, poor health conditions, and other social problems.

We believe that these factors often referred to as the “social determinants of health,” are also powerful determinants of education. As such, we must acknowledge that the "opportunity gap” isn’t just an indicator of a problem within our schools, it is an indicator of a host of problems throughout our community. And because so many of these problems are embedded in inequitable systems, addressing them requires an equity-centered, systems-oriented approach. 

View and download the 2023-25 Strategic Plan here

A Bold Community Goal and the United for Youth Network

At the center of the plan, you will see a reference to the "Bold Community Goal". This goal was crafted and adopted in February 2021 by the nearly 150 youth, school, and community partners (including Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools) that make up the United for Youth Network, the Cross-Sector Leadership Team, and our own Board of Directors.

The goal will be supported over time by a number of important projects but at the core, our community is committing to align and leverage community resources as a Network and improve systems for equitable student learning and educational excellence. Accountability is central to this framework, and all involved are agreeing to support one another and hold one another accountable through continuous learning and course corrections along our path towards our shared vision, mission, and bold community goal.

From the partnership agreement

United for Youth is a multigenerational, cross-sector, cradle to career partnership built on the foundational principle that “Equity and Educational Excellence are Inseparable.”  

Together, with youth and family leadership, we work to ensure educational outcomes are determined by the high quality of our schools and partner organizations, the abundance and accessibility of opportunities in our community, the strength of our collaborations, and never again predictable based on a student’s race, home language, family income, or any other dimension of identity.

  • United for Youth Vision | ALL children and youth learn, grow, and thrive in a vibrant, healthy, and connected community.
  • United for Youth Mission | To actively identify and remove barriers to opportunity and co-create solutions that support student success.
  • Our Goal | By 2035, ALL Asheville City and Buncombe County students graduate from high school ready and fully prepared to pursue their goals and dreams.

Vision Statement

We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Because of this, the staff and board of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County commit to:

  • Recognize the many ways inequity, particularly racial inequity, takes form both historically and today;
  • Name the structures that uphold injustice and work to eliminate these barriers to inclusion and equity from our own work and in our community;
  • Build the relationships needed to do this work and, with humility, join community efforts and invite others to join us; and
  • Actively honor, engage and embrace diversity with the core belief that it will strengthen our systems, partnerships, and community.

We fully intend for our Vision, Mission, and Focus to result in a more equitable workplace and community. That's why the addition of this Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion vision statement is so important. It represents both an internal commitment and an external promise to our community. 

We recognize that making this work a cultural cornerstone of who we are, and what we do is a life-long undertaking and that we have a long way to go. We remain steadfast in our commitment to incorporating the values of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into the governance and operation of this organization. Explore more about our commitment and promise

How we show up in our community is just as important as what we do. These Guiding Principles will serve as an outward-facing promise and an inward-facing set of standards for all board, staff, and volunteers.

Equity at the Center

Recognize and challenge the dominant culture narratives, norms, and power structures that prevent all people from belonging and thriving

Courageous Leadership

Live out our Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles with empathy and compassion, even when difficult or unpopular

Collective Wisdom

Ensure that our work is guided by community expertise, including the lived experience of people most impacted by poverty and injustice

Embracing Change

Continuously learn, innovate, and evolve to confront emerging challenges and opportunities

Accountability Driven

Earn community trust through dependability, transparency, and a commitment to achieving results