By: Abby Cunningham
Robert Spear, PhD. knows a thing or two about research. As a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Public Health, he’s written and co-authored over a hundred papers on various topics in environmental health. He knows that it takes more than knowledge and discipline to master complexity — it takes time. So, years ago when he and his family began looking at the complex issue of poverty in the Bay Area, they took a pragmatic approach. They invested locally and let the experts take the lead.
“I haven’t had the time to sit down and really investigate and understand what individual organizations in the Bay Area do,” explains Spear, “The easiest thing to do is to give to United Way and let them figure out what the local needs are and how to best meet them.”
As a local himself, giving back to the Bay Area is a top priority. Spear attended both high school and college here, and later went on to a successful academic career. He has seen a lot of changes in the past few decades, but he remembers that housing has always been expensive. As early as 1970, one of Spear’s colleagues was priced out of the Berkeley housing market, opting instead to buy a home in Concord.
Today even finding an affordable apartment can be a daunting task for many low- and moderate-income families. Add that to the continued decline of good-paying jobs in the service sector, and Bay Area locals like Spear feel compelled to step forward and act.
“It’s important from my perspective to donate locally,” says Spear. “And with the bifurcation of incomes and the cost of living, poverty is a real issue in the Bay Area. We know that the people at the bottom of the ladder really need the help.”
Thanks to donors like Robert Spear, United Way Bay Area is connecting families to better education, higher-paying jobs and basic needs like food and healthcare, often under a single roof. From 2-1-1 to free financial coaching, we’re working together to create a stronger, more inclusive Bay Area for each and every resident who lives here.
To learn more about how you can help, please visit www.uwba.org/give.