How Did We Get to This Goal? Why?
Since 1957, United Way has served as the local philanthropic leader for Health and Human Services for Wayne and Holmes Counties. While much has changed, our commitment to improving lives and building a stronger community has stayed the same.
Our community has identified poverty as our focus.
Our approach is built around the understanding that poverty is everyone’s problem. Assigning the fix to someone else is not the solution. Moving 10,000 people out of poverty is bold. It’s audacious. It’s also a community-wide goal, and as such, is not solely United Way’s challenge to resolve alone. Our vision is to lead the community in achieving the Bold Goal by mobilizing the resources of our entire community to GIVE, ADVOCATE, and VOLUNTEER in order to move people out of poverty.
Our community is faced with a situation where the solutions do not match the complexities of the problem. Moving families out of poverty is our challenge – our formidable hill.
No single program or organization alone can make the scale of impact needed. Collaboration is not enough by itself. Instead, we need to focus on a common agenda, a shared goal. This approach requires all of us to look for ways to mutually reinforce each other, to work differently towards that shared goal.
We can change the future of Wayne and Holmes Counties if we work together.
Local and National Information on Poverty:
36,000 people in Wayne County live at or below 200% of poverty (defined by the US Department of Health and Human Services for a family of four with an annual income of $24,250).
25% of those individuals are children under the age of 18, with nearly one-third starting school behind children from middle and higher income families.
Approximately 14% of all Wayne County residents are food insecure which means they consistently do not have access to nutritious food.
The largest growing population of people living in poverty are single women with children.
The prevalence of poverty is highest during the earliest, most formative years of children’s lives-with potentially lasting consequences for education, health, and other key outcomes.
Research shows poverty is a strong predictor of children's success in school and adult employment and earnings.
We are listening to you.
Cross-Sector Community Conversations.
Currently, we are in the process of hosting cross-sector community conversations which allow community members to help identify root causes of poverty and the barriers which inhibit movement out of poverty. People currently living in poverty, faith-based community leaders, non-profit experts, government, educators, and business leaders have all been invited to be part of these conversations.
Using the Information.
This feedback will be compiled and accessed by a group of 17 Community Advisors again representing all sectors of the community. They in turn will submit their recommendations to United Way’s Board identifying the root causes which should be targeted first in our strategic process. From there, Focus Councils consisting of both community members and issue experts will be convened to identify outcome based strategies which will best address targeted issues. They will be charged not only with developing the strategy in this community plan, but also creating criteria to measure the success of these efforts. They will identify what specific resources need to be pursued and work with United Way’s Board to develop the Request for Proposal (RFP) from local providers who can achieve the desired outcomes.
“Community change requires perseverance, patience, and sustained focus on a limited number of strategies.” -Hard Lessons about Philanthropy & Community Change by Prudence Brown and Leila Flester
Developing the Theory of Change.
We will take an analytical look at our existing resources and partnerships and use our local experts to help build this community vision. We will engage in community conversations. We will learn what has worked elsewhere to address the identified root causes of poverty as well as discover what assets, social, human, educational and financial, will enable families to move from poverty to self-sufficiency.
As strategies, programs and services are identified that align with the vision of reducing poverty, we expect that many current partnerships will remain. However, there is a chance that other new private and public partnerships will emerge.
The Strategic Logic Model.
Community Conversations are being held first to collect direct feedback from cross-sector community conversations. They will allow community members to help identify root causes of poverty and the barriers which inhibit movement out of poverty. People currently living in poverty, faith based community leaders, non-profit experts, government, educators, and business leaders have all been invited to be part of these conversations.
A Community Advisor Group will be formed using local experts and community members who have the greatest sense of the challenges and the well- being of the community. They will review the community feedback and make a recommendation to United Way’s Board as to the specific focus areas which need to be targeted.
Focus Area Councils will become the “Experts” on the identified focus areas. They will review local data and trends. They will study successful national programs and initiatives and make recommendations on how best to adapt them for local sustainability and success. They will create the Requests for Proposal(RFP) for delivery of the defined services.
United Way Impact Committee will be formed using current United Way Board Members and Members of the Focus Area Councils. They will review the suggestions from the Focus Area Councils, agree upon the common performance measures which will be utilized to measure the successful implementation of the interventions.
Will United Way still be engaged in fundraising?
Yes. However, all the fundraising we engage in will be coordinated around achieving the identified community outcomes surrounding the issues of poverty. However, instead of raising money and allowing individual agencies to come to the table asking for money for the programs/intiatives they see as important, the issue of moving people out of poverty will drive the fundraising strategies. We believe that new revenue streams and volunteer options will impact this issue.