For the past nine months, the board of directors of the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area has been implementing its new strategic direction of focusing on three specific areas of impact: School Readiness, Self-Sufficiency and Community Health. Impact teams consisting of 49 United Way board members, plus interested community volunteers, met dozens of times in the past year to develop priorities within each impact area. Our board invited local nonprofits to submit proposals that would help meet the priorities in each of those areas. Our United Way is investing a total of $634,038 in grants this year to local programs, and for the first time has provided some multi-year grants.
The priorities of the SCHOOL READINESS impact area are: to provide home-visiting services for families with children zero to three years old; increasing the access to quality early education through the Virginia Star Quality Initiative; and to partner with schools, preschools and community groups to improve children’s successful transition to kindergarten.
School Readiness Impact Team Members: Eric Johnson, Chair; Bill Bradley; Peter Chapin; Mike Chinn; Bryan Elliott; Frank Friedman; Rondi Furgason; Phil Garland; Michael Geismar; Amanda Hoffman; PK Kamath; Chris Laing; Chris Lee; Brad Ramsey; Bill Wardle.
School Readiness grant partner programs:
“Multi-year funding is something new for us,” notes Cathy Train, United Way’s president. “But in the case where there is a strong, ongoing program with proven results that specifically addresses our priorities, we felt that investing for the long term could create some momentum in children growing up healthy and arriving at school prepared to succeed.”
Our United Way’s SELF-SUFFICIENCY impact area team’s goal is to “invest in individuals and families working to become financially stable and economically independent.” “We found that this goal really spread across all three of our impact areas,” Train states. “A family struggling to make ends meet, or parents working two or three jobs without health insurance, doesn’t leave time to help children with homework or ensure adequate preventative health care.” Our United Way sought programs that addressed one or more of these priorities: addressing barriers to employment and job training for unemployed/underemployed local residents, including promoting high school graduation and post-secondary education; increasing access to financial education, literacy and budgeting; and supporting employment through adequate and accessible transportation, child care and shelter.
Self-Sufficiency Impact Team Members: Deborah van Eersel, Chair; Charles DuBose; Sasha Farmer; Adrian Felts; Dan Goodall; Fred Greer; Peter Harbilas; Allen Hughes; PK Kamath; Jim Kennan; Don Long; Abby Lunn; Susan Prindle; Joyce Robbins; Phil Sparks; Juan Wade; John Young.
The United Way has partnered with the following programs to help address these priorities:
Our research determined that in the area of COMMUNITY HEALTH, the priorities were clear: improve prenatal care and the health of babies; promote physical activity and improve the nutrition and eating habits of local residents, or other obesity prevention projects; and increase access to preventative and basic health care resources for underserved persons, including low-income and rural communities. “The United Way is invested in building a community where people are healthy and have access to needed care,” says Train. “We need to help develop healthy habits, starting at an early age.
Community Health Impact Team Members: Liza Borches, Chair; Guy Babineau; Glenn Bannan; Spencer Birdsong; Lisa Cannell; Deborah Conway; Margery Daniel; Dorrie Fontaine; Ray Mishler; Gary O’Connell; Eunhee Park; Jim Richardson; Carolyn Schuyler; Jim Shannon; David Stebbins; Margo Szeliga; Mike Wesson.
In order to meet the priorities of the Community Health focus area, the United Way is partnering with the following programs through grants:
“By focusing our investments on specific goals and priorities, and through encouraging partnerships and collaborations with similar or complimentary programs with long-term goals and measurements,” Train declares, “it is our hope that we will create substantial positive change in our community.”
None of this would have been possible without the leadership of our Campaign Chair, Alison DeTuncq, president of UVA Community Credit Union, who led teams of volunteers in raising the funds necessary to address these priorities. And, in the end, it is the members of our community - our donors - who have invested their money in improving our community, that we have to thank. Together, we WILL make a difference.
Posted by: Kim Connolly