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Our Focus Areas

The success of a community’s children and youth depends upon the strength of its families. Stronger families mean stronger communities. The benefits of strong families are far-reaching and all encompassing.

As many as one-third of working Americans do not earn enough money to meet their basic needs. Wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of housing, healthcare and education and currently, 40 million Americans are working in low-paying jobs without basic health and retirement benefits. For families walking a financial tightrope, unable to save for college, a home or retirement, just one unanticipated expense – a car breakdown, an uninsured illness, a week without a paycheck – can lead to crisis.

United Way supports programs to help ensure people’s most basic needs of food, shelter, health, and safety are met. Basic needs services are vital to individuals with chronic conditions and for individuals and families in crisis needing temporary support. When individuals are unable to meet their immediate needs, it becomes more difficult to focus on long-term goals such as employment, housing, or education. Basic needs services are critical to getting people back on their feet and on the road to self-sufficiency.

Households that are financially stable and have sufficient income to support their families create a stronger community and economy. United Way is helping families build a firm financial foundation by connecting them with job training, housing stability, and financial tools. By bringing together partners from business, community organizations, and local government, we can help more families in our community reach financial independence.

How We're Changing the Story:

                            

 

                             

                             

                   

What YOUR gifts made possible in 2017:

  • 2,999,332 meals were provided though area pantries and shelters
  • 516 individuals received 16,161 night of shelter; 70% were able to secure stable housing during the year
  • 312 individuals developed the skills needed for employment; 62% maintained employment throughout the year
  • 6,195 backpacks filled with nutritious food were distrubted weekly to hungry children durng the school year and summer months
  • 124 victims of domestic violence received safe shelter and counseling
  • $2.34 million in tax refunds were generated through free tax preparation services
  • 1,168 individuals received mental health therapy; 85% showed sustained improvement for one year
  • 41 households received rent or utility assistance
  • 5,930 dental visits were provided to adults and children for both preventative and restorative care
  • Senior citizens were connected to $2,843,270 worth of benefits, allowing them to remain independent in their own homes

 

Learning begins at birth, but many parents do not realize their critical role as their children’s first teacher. Early learning can take many forms, from parental interaction to childcare programs to formal preschool education. These early learning experiences are important, as they can shape a child’s entire academic future. When children start kindergarten ready to learn and equipped with the necessary language and literacy skills they are more likely to be reading at grade level in third grade and more likely to graduate high school on time with a plan for college or career training.

How We're Changing the Story:

                                      

           

 

What YOUR gifts made possible in 2017:

  • 531 children received quality childcare, preschool, and early intervention services; 96% reached age-appropriate developmental milestones
  • 11,000 families with preschoolers received Getting Kids Ready for Kindergarten Calendars
  • 99% of children who participated in a family literacy program with their parents achieved age-appropriate English language skills
  • 3,747 children received a free book each month through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program for a total of 34,297 books

 

 

 

Reading is a critical predictor of high school success—or failure. This is because children are learning to read until fourth grade; after that, they are reading to learn. In later grades, coursework gets harder, reading becomes more challenging, and those with reading troubles have difficulty coping. This can lead to bad grades, bad behavior, “checking out” from school – and eventually dropping out.

For children to become strong readers, they need a print-rich environment. Ideally, their parents and caregivers surround them at an early age with books; use the local library regularly; and read with them daily.  Starting in kindergarten, children learn the skills they need to sound out new words and find meaning in written text. By third grade, they may be reading chapter books to their parents, and are hopefully developing a love of reading that promotes future learning. By fourth grade, their strong reading skills are supporting increasingly harder academic work. Reading skills build a strong foundation for academic success and high school graduation. These successful readers will better understand the world around them, and will be able to use those skills to succeed in a demanding workplace and to be a fully engaged citizen.

How We're Changing the Story:

               

 

What YOUR gifts made possible in 2017:

  • 66 Third-Grade students receiving after-school tutoring to help raise their reading and math scores. 83% increased their proficiency in reading; 97% increased their proficiency in math
  • 88 youth participated in a structured out-of-school program; 90% demonstrated improved reading and literacy skills
  • 22 Reading Buddies spent over 300 hours reading in classrooms with students

 

 

 

 

Although the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high of 82%, the high school dropout problem still presents a daunting challenge to communities across the United States. About 25% of all students—nearly 1.2 million each year—fail to graduate high school on time. In some large urban districts, less than half the students graduate on time. Even if a student graduates from high school, only one in four students is academically prepared for college or career training.

As we reach the end of the second decade of the 21st century, the need to ensure that youth succeed after high school has become more pressing than ever before. A solid education has become the foundation for a good life. Most jobs today that pay wages or salaries high enough to support a family require skills associated with at least some education beyond high school. By 2022, 36% of all job openings in the United States will require at least a bachelor’s degree, and another 49% will be “middle skills” jobs, requiring some education beyond high school. 54% of jobs today are middle-skills jobs, but only 44% of the American workforce is trained at middle-skill level. Employers today need skilled workers at all levels—employees who can communicate well, think critically and be effective team members. Yet, employers report that workers with no education beyond high school are three times less likely to be prepared for work than recent college graduates. Individuals with bachelor’s degrees earn on average $23,800 more per year than those with only high school diplomas. Those with any degree are three times more likely to be employed than someone without a degree.

All told, these statistics carry tremendous implications for our future.  It is clear that high school is not enough anymore for anyone who wants to earn a living wage. Moreover, as the fastest growing job sectors require more and more technical education, students unprepared for college or career training will find themselves un- and under-employed at a much higher rate.

 

How We're Changing the Story:

  

What YOUR gifts made possible in 2017:

  • 1,073 teens participated in a structured after school program where they received homework help, academic tutoring, social emotional skill building, and team building activities
  • 119 families participated in parenting meetings which taught parents about college readiness, financial aid, parenting, and life skills, enabling parents to guide their child through the college application or career training selection process