Tim McKinney and United Global Outreach: A place-based community transformation effort

Located just 20 miles from “the happiest place on earth,” the community of Bithlo, Fla., resembles parts of Appalachia. Bithlo is an isolated, semi-rural area where high rates of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment have been the norm for nearly 80 years. Since 2009, Tim McKinney, executive vice president of the nonprofit organization United Global Outreach, has headed up the Bithlo Transformation Project. The unique, building-on-existing-assets model has received national recognition as a model for “place-based” community health improvement and population health, and recently won the 2015 NOVA Award from The American Hospital Association for improving community health.


We’re honored to have McKinney, recognized as one of Orlando’s 50 Most Powerful People, as one of our keynote speakers at the third annual "Connecting to Transform Communities" conference to share how this successful model works.


In Bithlo, most of the 8,200 residents live in dilapidated housing; their drinking water is contaminated with heavy metals. Literacy rates are low, jobs are scarce, and social needs abound. There has been no grocery store, barbershop, library, swimming pool or place to earn a GED.


United Global Outreach (UGO) is a small 501c3 entity whose goal is to “transform forgotten communities into places in which we would all want to live.” UGO’s role as a community catalyst in Bithlo has garnered the support of 6,700+ volunteers and more than 65 community, faith, business, education and government partners including anchor institution Florida Hospital.


According to the NOVA Award information on the project from the American Hospital Association, “Florida Hospital designated Bithlo as its first local health engagement project. Florida Hospital and UGO gear their efforts toward sustainable local partnerships that will expand ser­vices, rather than seeking grants for UGO or infrastructure. The partners are working on nine focus areas: education, health care, housing, envi­ronment, transportation, basic needs, sense of community, advocacy and economic opportunity. The organizations have worked together on efforts such as ‘Transformation Village,’ and Bithlo now has a medical clinic, mobile dental services and a domestic violence coordinator, among other vital services.”

UGO is currently working to expand the transformation model to other Central Florida communities.

Read more about the Bithlo Transformation Project, then join us at the Connecting conference and hear insights into successful strategies you can use in your own community.