United Way Romania launched a new partnership with Metropolitan Life, the life insurance company part of MetLife, Inc., the group of companies known worldwide for life insurances, retirement benefit plans, employee benefits and investment management services. Through this partnership, metropolitan Life becomes one of the Foundation’s most prominent donors in 2015. The funding granted by Metropolitan Life and MetLife Foundation amounts to approximately a quarter of a million euro and aims to improve socio-professional inclusion and financial self-reliance of disadvantaged youths, to contribute to the development of children from orphanages and to support local social initiatives and the involvement of the community. By joining forces with United Way Romania, Metropolitan Life expands a traditional relationship with United Way, initiated some years ago in U.S.A. and further replicated in 10 locations worldwide.

The collaboration started with the support that United Way Romania and Metropolitan Life offer to 70 children from two orphanages in Bucharest – “Sf. Iosif” and “Pinnochio” – through the “Ajungem Mari” national program. For 7 months, children aged between 3 and 18 years benefit of an intensive educational program: interactive classes and creative workshops, recreational trips, specialized courses, financial education workshops and coaching. In the program, 40 employees of the company are volunteering weekly as tutors and mentors. Tailored to the children’s needs, the programme focuses on increasing self-confidence, training skills and promoting values for a decent and healthy life. Thus, through new experiences, constant encouragement and exposure to new role-models, the children are helped to overcome the fearfulness of abuse and abandonment, the lack of self-confidence and to increase their chances for a better future.

ajungemmari1“Alături de tine” is another program supported through the partnership between United Way Romania and Metropolitan Life, including five NGOs in the social field from different communities around the country. As a result of an internal competition within Metropolitan Life, agencies where encouraged to apply with project proposals designed and implemented by local NGOs for a six month funding. The winning projects are: “Învață-mă să zâmbesc!” (Constanța), “Rugby-ul te ascultă!” (Băicoi, Prahova County), “Parc Empatic” (Brașov), “Educația – un viitor mai sigur” (Iași) și “Școala e de partea ta!” (Bucov, Prahova County).

Another pillar of the United Way Romania and Metropolitan Life partnership is “Atelierul Viitorului” which address youths with disabilities from orphanages or very poor families. The project aims through its activities to increase the chances for social integration. The 17 youths from this project will be supported to attend school and maintain their acquired knowledge, will receive professional and vocational counselling, will be provided with hot meals and access to healthcare and will be encouraged to develop skills for an integrated and independent life.

2016 is the year when the most extensive program developed by United Way Romania and Metropolitan Life will be launched, a 2-year collaborative intervention plan, which aims to support at least 500 persons from extremely poor social groups to find a stable job and become financially responsible and independent adults. By mobilizing communities’ actors (NGOs, authorities, companies and volunteers from corporate sector – including Metropolitan Life employees), the program that will be launched in Bucharest and Timișoara will meet the main difficulties which the underprivileged groups are facing while trying to reach financial stability: professional training, career counselling, social integration, access to working opportunities and financial education. Disadvantaged youths that need to support their family on their own (for example: single parents), youths coming from orphanages, from disadvantaged families or with disabilities are forming the beneficiaries group of the program.

On the basis of the same partnership, the Foundation made a donation to support the victims of the Colectiv tragedy.