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City leaders, community partners react to Grand Rapids superintendent's 'bold' transformation plan

City leaders, community partners react to Grand Rapids superintendent's 'bold' transformation plan | United Way | Scoop.it

Seventeen of Grand Rapids Public Schools 43 buildings are at or below 60 percent capacity.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - City Manager Greg Sundstrom said he respects and appreciates the bold leadership of Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal in putting forth a transformation plan focused on kids being college and career ready.


On Monday, Oct. 29, Neal introduced a proposal to the school board that would close 10 school buildings, consolidates schools and programs, and closes and reopens more innovative, appealing programs on the same sites. The building plan is meant to support her new academic plan, funneling money saved into improving teaching and learning.


RELATED: Grand Rapids superintendent unveils plans to close Creston, other schools as part of consolidation, reinvention plan


"I agree with Superintendent Neal that Grand Rapids Public Schools has a significant impact on the entire community. After all, they are training the workforce of tomorrow," Sundstrom said. "It is important for this community to have a well-trained workforce."


"A transformation plan means rethinking everything you do, not incremental change but bold change that can have significant impact."


Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, said she thinks Neal is on the right track with her focus on putting dollars into improving achievement.


"The focus really needs to be on raising the graduation rate, reducing the dropout rate and preparing kids to be college and career ready," said Sieger. "When you are faced with financial challenges, you have to make some difficult choices."


The foundation is a key district partner, funneling a half-million dollars to Grand Rapids schools already to keep Northwest Side students on track to colleges or training for certification. Plans are to invest as much as $4.5 million this decade. Students at Harrison Park and teachers are receiving academic support through the Challenge Scholars Program, which expands to Westwood Middle next year and includes Union High School support. The group is also offering college scholarships to Harrison students graduating in Union's Class of 2020.


The district has a graduation rate of 47.6 percent, a dropout rate of nearly 20 percent, and less than 1 percent of comprehensive high school students are college ready based on Michigan Merit Exam and ACT. And 17 of its 43 buildings are at or below 60 percent capacity.

Neal says she can't run a district operating at a loss.


"I think the overall plan makes a lot of sense because No. 1, it's strategic, which is critically important," said Brian Cloyd, board chair of Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy and a district public-private partnership, and vice president of global corporate relations for Steelcase.

"I know that the lighting rod will be around individual schools closing, reopening, and where is my child going to school, but I think parents should be asking themselves two questions: Do I want a quality education for my child? Do I want my child to have the opportunity to be successful in life?"

He said funds going into operating and maintaining half-empty buildings can be focused on every child being successful.


"I think it’s a very gutsy plan," said Joe Jones, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Urban League. "I think there is a need to be bold. This seems to be well thought and most importantly, puts the district on the path to being competitive during a time when true choice in education is available in our community.".


Fritz Crabb, director of literacy initiatives for the Heart of West Michigan United Way, which partners with GRPS on its Schools of Hope program, said it is important the district concentrates on its academic challenges.


"We are happy to see the bold steps proposed by the superintendent to improve academics," said Crabb, who said they will work for the success of the plan ultimately adopted.


At Monday's school board work session, Neal told the board she thought the transformation plan was "thoughtful and creative" and asked they not pick it apart but vote it up or down.


The board is scheduled to vote Dec. 17. Five meetings are planned with the community beginning Thursday at Creston High School, 1720 Plainfield Ave. NE, one of the schools recommended for closure because its low-enroll and high operating cost.  The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m.


To read the plan, visit the district website.

Email:mscott2@mlive.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @Twitter.com/GRPScotty.

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United Way Brings Diabetes Awareness to the State House

United Way Brings Diabetes Awareness to the State House | United Way | Scoop.it

The United Way of Central Massachusetts partnered with the American Diabetes Association, MassBio, Novo Nordisk, and Joslin Diabetes Center on Wednesday to bring Changing Diabetes Day to the State House for World Diabetes Day.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

GolocalWorcester News Team


The United Way of Central Massachusetts partnered with the American Diabetes Association, MassBio, Novo Nordisk, and Joslin Diabetes Center on Wednesday to bring Changing Diabetes Day to the State House for World Diabetes Day.


Local Senators and Representatives, including Senate President Therese Murray and Representative Aaron Michlewitz, participated in an important informational briefing on the diabetes epidemic in Massachusetts. Diabetes poses a serious threat to individuals and families across the Commonwealth. The morning event consisted of a speaking program highlighting the impact of diabetes and provided an opportunity to share critical information with legislators.


November 14th is also recognized as World Diabetes Day by events around the globe to highlight the importance of diabetes awareness and increase education about diabetes worldwide. The State House was lit blue on Wednesday as a shining example of diabetes awareness. The goal is to raise awareness of the disease to policy makers and the general public.


"We need to close the gap—in order to prevent future cases of diabetes, and to ensure that the public makes this health issue a priority," said the organization.


Approximately, 557,200 Massachusetts adults, or a staggering 8.38 percent of the state’s population, are estimated to have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, according to the Institute for Alternative Futures. 280 million people nationally have pre-diabetes – including 1,693,600 Massachusetts residents – a condition that puts them at the highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes.


For more information on the United Way of Central Massachusetts click here.

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One goal: One million | USA TODAY College

One goal: One million | USA TODAY College | United Way | Scoop.it

Student United Way, is working to recruit volunteer readers, tutors and mentors as part of their One Million Goal.

By Michele Danno Courtesy of United Way

One million may not seem like much to some folks with seven-figure salaries. It’s a paycheck, a game day audience or a Twitter following. But in the eyes of students working to recruit one million people to join a cause, that number means a lot.


It means a lot to all of the people who are teaming with United Way to cut the high school dropout rate in half by recruiting one million volunteer readers, tutors and mentors. To help spread the word, United Way leveraged its esteemed partnership with America’s most popular major league sport by launching United Way TEAM NFL — a core group of college-educated, civic-minded NFL players from across the country committed to representing the initiative and motivating volunteers to sign up.


But as eager as they are to help, they cannot do it alone and no one knows how to reach out to students in need better than students themselves.


Cue Student United Way, a student-led initiative that aligns with the core values of its parent organization and is dedicated to sharing their mission of advancing the common good by empowering individuals and their communities. That empowerment targets America’s troubled youth, who are dropping out of school at unprecedented rates. Daunting statistics, such as one in four students today won’t graduate high school or a student drops out every 26 seconds, fuel the “One Million Goal” and drive Student United Way advocates to pay their educations forward.

That’s not to say it’s an easy feat. Juggling classes, sports, friends and work, most college kids rarely find time for themselves – let alone anybody else. But those involved in Student United Way, like 22-year-old Elizabeth Collins, willingly spare what little free time they have to help their communities.


Ironically, Collins calls her actions “selfish,” as she sees charity as more beneficial for her than those she volunteers for. As the president of Student United Way at Montana State University Billings, she described her satisfaction from volunteering as “addictive,” and has since made it her goal to get others hooked.


Her chapter of Student United Way is just one of 79 others, which are located in four different countries around the world. While chapters have participated in various independent initiatives since the group’s founding in 2008, this year they decided to rally behind one common goal set fourth by United Way — the One Million Goal.


Edwin Goutier, the manager of Student United Way, called these Student United Way participants his “worker bees,” saying they’re a great complement to the NFL players who are using their relationships and reach to help spread the word about the need and the opportunity to get involved.


Collins agreed, saying that the brunt of her group’s work is low-profile, but yields high success both in the lives of disadvantaged students and their volunteers.


To promote the cause for education, Collins’ Student United Way chapter is hosting everything from pen-pal programs to book drives, tutoring programs and other awareness-raising events that serve as a platform to recruit more volunteers.


Inching towards one million, these types of initiatives make the number that much more attainable. Goutier, who supports all Student United Ways, said the chapters are getting creative with how to spread the word, and every tactic is getting them closer to the ultimate goal.


“We know it’s going to take all of us working together to make it happen,” he said. “Students are an untapped resource, and this gives them the opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of other students.”


Michele Danno is a United Way TEAM NFL intern and a student at the University of Iowa.

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States Target 3rd Grade Reading

States Target 3rd Grade Reading | United Way | Scoop.it

Many states now require the identification of struggling readers and, in some places, retaining them until their skills are up to par.



States Target 3rd Grade Reading By Erik W. Robelen


    At the same time that thousands of school districts nationwide are beginning to implement the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts, many also face new state reading policies for the early grades that call for the identification of struggling readers, require interventions to help them, and, in some instances, mandate the retention of 3rd graders who lack adequate reading skills. A number of states recently adopted such policies, many of which have echoes of a long-standing Florida measure for reading intervention and retention for those who lack adequate reading skills. In all, according to the Education Commission of the States, 32 states plus the District of Columbia now have statutes in place intended to improve reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade.  

Arizona tightens up a recently adopted policy for retaining 3rd graders who score “far below” their grade level on a state reading test, closing what advocates called a “loophole” that allowed parents to override the retention. The state policy calls on districts to provide one of several options to assist both retained students and struggling readers in earlier grades, including assignment to a different teacher  for reading instruction, summer school, or other “intensive” help before, during, or after the school day. Passed: 2012


Colorado is requiring schools—in partnership with parents—to craft individual plans for struggling readers to get them on track. For 3rd graders with significant reading deficiencies, the parent and teacher must meet and consider retention as an intervention strategy, but the final decision must be jointly agreed to and approved by the district. A special per-pupil fund was created to support specific reading interventions, such as summer school and after-school tutoring. Passed: 2012


Connecticut instructs the state education agency to develop new K-3 reading assessments for districts to use in identifying struggling readers. It also mandates that K-3 teachers pass a reading assessment each year beginning in 2013. And it compels the state to devise an intensive program that includes “scientifically based” reading instruction, intensive reading-intervention strategies, summer school, and other features that will be offered for a limited number of schools to use. Passed: 2012


Indiana identifies 3rd grade retention as a “last resort” for struggling readers. A state board of education policy says students who fail the state reading test at that grade would be retained, though technically, the state is only requiring that they be counted as 3rd graders for purposes of state testing. The policy allows for midyear promotions and has several good-cause exemptions. Districts must provide a daily reading block  of at least 90 minutes to all students in grades K-3 and additional strategies and interventions for those identified as struggling readers. Passed: 2010


Iowa requires 3rd graders with an identified “reading deficiency” either to attend an intensive summer reading program or be retained, except for those eligible for several good-cause exemptions. The law also requires, if state funds are appropriated, for districts to provide such students in grades K-3 with intensive instructional services and support to improve reading, including a minimum of 90 minutes of “scientific, research-based” reading instruction and other strategies identified by the district, such as small-group instruction, an extended school day, or tutoring and mentoring. Passed: 2012


North Carolina schools must retain 3rd graders not reading on grade level, based on a state assessment, unless they meet one of several exemptions, including demonstration of proficiency through an alternative assessment or portfolio. Prior to retention, students must be provided summer reading camps and have one more chance to demonstrate proficiency. The measure also stipulates regular diagnostic assessments and early interventions for struggling readers beginning in kindergarten. Passed: 2012 (overriding governor’s veto)


Ohio requires 3rd graders to meet a certain threshold on the state English/language arts test to advance to the 4th grade, but the law makes exceptions for some students. Districts must annually assess and identify students reading below grade level, and develop a reading improvement and monitoring plan for each pupil. Such students must receive at least 90 minutes of daily reading instruction and be taught by  a “high-performing” teacher. Passed: 2012


Oklahoma calls for schools to retain 3rd graders who score “unsatisfactory” on the state reading test, though they may qualify for several good-cause exemptions.  The new policy calls for districts to offer a midyear promotion for 4th graders who show substantial improvement. The law also calls on districts to identify and provide extra reading support and instructional time for students in K-3 reading below grade level. Passed: 2011


Virginia mandates that local districts provide reading-intervention services to 3rd graders who demonstrate deficiencies on a state reading test or other diagnostic assessment. The measure does not include any requirements for retention. Passed: 2012


Vol. 32, Issue 12, Page s4

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Community Change Efforts - A 20 year Perspective | Vibrant Canada

Link to presentation:  http://vibrantcanada.ca/files/cii_anne_kubisch_2012_0.pdf


Community Change Efforts - A 20 year Perspective   Submitted by Liz Weaver on November 11, 2012 - 6:40pm                     Lessons learned from the Collective Impact Institute         

It isn't often that someone effectively puts twenty years of community change efforts in the US into context.  To do that is no small task.  But Anne Kubisch of the Aspen Institute, Roundtable on Community Change did just that in her presentation to the Collective Impact Institute in New Hampshire.


Much of Anne's work has been to reflect on community change efforts.  With colleagues, she has published a number of important books and articles titled 'Voices from the Field'.  The Roundtable on Community Change has been a leader in watching the field of comprehensive community initiatives across the US and Canada, drawing lessons from decades of community change efforts.


In her presentation, Anne reflects on the outcomes of these community change efforts on individuals, communities and population level changes.  She also reflects on the notion of Collective Impact and the contribution that this is making to the field of community change.


She encourages the field to embrace collective impact but cautions that it is the newest iteration of community change efforts.  With this new iteration, we have to increase our capacities - including our individual, community, connecting and learning capacities.  To truly have an impact, we have to authentically engage with our colleagues, focus on the community impact of our work, become better at connecting issues both horizontally and vertically and be prepared to prototype, experiment, take risks and learn.


Wise lessons to be sure.

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2-1-1 Call Centers Are Lifelines During Hurricane Sandy and Beyond

2-1-1 Call Centers Are Lifelines During Hurricane Sandy and Beyond

What do you call a phone number that helps assess your needs—even if that need is for heat and food, after a hurricane has destroyed your home? In New Jersey and throughout the nation, you call that number 2-1-1.


A growing number of cities have established 2-1-1 call centers that connect people to essential services such as employment training, help for an older parent, addiction prevention and affordable housing options. During Hurricane Sandy, the call centers also directed people to shelters, food, government resources, and, if needed, a mental health counselor to listen and comfort. In the aftermath of the storm calls to the service have increased at least 400 percent, says Laura Zink Marx, director of operations for the NJ 2-1-1 Partnership and chair of the 2-1-1US Steering committee, a volunteer role. The New Jersey 2-1-1 Partnership is a subsidiary of the United Way of New Jersey.


“Probably the most common question,” says Marx, “is, ‘when will my power be back on?’ If you have internet access you can keep looking at interactive maps that show you how much progress utility companies have made, though millions are still without power. But if you have no electricity, and no way to access information, you just feel abandoned and scared. We’re getting those calls and sharing the information as it’s updated.”


Marx says the 2-1-1 line in New Jersey is also letting people know where the food pantries are in their neighborhood and, by tracking call origins, can also provide the aggregate data to the food bank to see where the need is the greatest. Volunteers have been loaned by Americorps and many are fielding rumors perpetuated by social media, says Marx. A common one: FEMA is not giving out $300 food vouchers but it is standing up mobile kitchens. Operators tell callers how to find the closest ones.


Just before Superstorm Sandy hit, NewPublicHealth spoke with Laura Marx about the impact the 2-1-1 line is having in New Jersey. Despite her recent sleepless days and nights, Marx also updated us on the call line’s response in the wake of the storm and the subsequent Storm Athena.


NewPublicHealth: What is the 2-1-1 project in New Jersey and how did United Way get involved?


Laura Marx:  The 2-1-1 concept began about 15 years ago, even before September 11th. United Ways have always had an information referral component within their organization for probably the last 35 years. That’s an important resource for us to help connect people with services in their local community.



United Way does a needs assessment in the community every couple of years, often working with the local government or other organizations. What we’ve found is that almost always the number one reason people give for what is needed in the community is how to find the right resources, quickly. So about 12 years ago United Way and the Alliance of Information Referral Systems (AIRS), our accrediting organization, met with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to suggest that a three digit dialing code be dedicated to health and human services—because people find it really difficult to navigate the social service system. The FCC thought it was a great idea and granted the right to determine how it would happen in each state to each of the local boards of public utilities. And that's how we got in the business.


Every state has come up with its own way of administering the dialing code. In some states it was United Way administering it, in some states it was the local information referral networks, in other states it was the state themselves, but with the premise that we would all work together.


NPH: How widespread is the service now?


Laura Marx: 2-1-1 now covers about 90 percent of the nation and last year we answered 16.8 million calls.


NPH: What are the kinds of calls that the 2-1-1 system is set up to receive and to help with?


Laura Marx:  The 2-1-1 calls we get on a day-to-day basis are very much about basic needs. In New Jersey, for example 58 percent of our calls are for emergency financial assistance, and of those 58 percent, almost half of them are for utility assistance where people are so far behind that they can't catch up with their utility bills and are being threatened with shutoff. [Editor’s Note: This portion of the interview was conducted prior to SuperStorm Sandy.]

NPH: How is 2-1-1 making a difference?


Laura Marx: We’re the human service concierge service, so to speak, to try to really get people to the best resource and give them all the tools they need to make that experience the best. We’re absolutely connecting people to services, but we're also giving them information about eligibility, what documents they should bring with them, and if they have transportation issues, information on how can they get there. Then from the United Way side we're also documenting in aggregate form what the needs are, how we've been able to help them, and, if it turns out to be the case, how we've not been able to help them.


And to me, quite honestly, that's the biggest connection back to my United Way professionalism because it really allows us to look at changing trends and see when problems are starting to arise. Calls have let us know, for example, that reservists had insufficient resources, food pantries were bare and foreclosures were mounting. We shared our data with the community food bank so they could bring it to the governor's office and make a case for dollars to be released to provide more food back to the local community. So in a very broad sense we are affecting long-term change in terms of how systems are run and how funding decisions are made, I think that's what makes 2-1-1 so powerful.


Foreclosure is another example. I think many of the 2-1-1's throughout the nation have worked very closely in educating consumers who are facing foreclosure that they must meet this challenge head-on. So, for instance, in New Jersey we had a foreclosure mediation line here where someone could actually go before a judge and their creditor and really try to mediate an answer so they wouldn't lose their home. But they weren't opening the envelope that offered them the opportunity—it's so ingrained not to open it because it might be bad news. So part of our education was to say you have to open your mail, you have to look and see because sometimes there are opportunities there that will be gone if you don't do that. So sometimes it's just proactive messaging so that people really understand the kinds of services that are available in the community, especially new services or initiatives.


NPH: How has 2-1-1 impacted disaster response?


Laura Marx: We have a backup system so that 2-1-1 centers not impacted by a disaster can pick up the calls for a center that is. Our sister center is in Palm Beach on the Treasure Coast so whenever a hurricane's coming up the coast we start to take the calls so they can go home and be with their family and friends and get through the storm. We back each other up throughout the nation, but we're also gathering real-time data at the moment to really be able to give that information back to state and county officials during the disaster.


NPH: Did that backup system work during Hurricane Sandy? Was Palm Beach your backup? And what critical information did they provide?


Laura Marx: For Hurricane Sandy, NJ 2-1-1 is using the services of 2-1-1 Palm Beach, 2-1-1 Houston and 2-1-1 Vermont to help balance the increased call volume.  “Since our hurricane resources are web based at www.nj2-1-1.org, our 2-1-1 partners are able to access the same information as our call specialists onsite, so the response is transparent, with the same real time information.


NPH: Down the road, how do we get to a point where some of the basic problems are solved? How does 2-1-1 become not just the solution to the questions that are being asked, but preempt the question to not always have people in a state of crisis?


Laura Marx:  That’s exactly why we have agreed to work with the state of New Jersey on some critical issues, such as the low energy assistance hotline. Of 200,000 calls, about half are people trying to get an update on their application for energy assistance to help them pay their basic energy bills. That seems like a lot to us, so one of the goals we have is how can we make that system easier and how can we give feedback to the state to make the application work better for the caller and work better for the state. Absolutely, we see ourselves as a convener in that problem solving sort of way. The bigger issues, I think, from the United Way perspective, it's more about advocacy and bringing stakeholders around the tables, to see the top needs, and to work in the local communities to solve some of those. It’s also about being more proactive in getting information out to people so they're not always in a crisis circumstance. It’s a big task.


>>Bonus Link: One key thing that has changed since the 2-1-1 program began is the incredible growth of internet resources and Marx hopes that people, when they have access to power, will also make use of the 2-1-1 New Jersey website and other 2-1-1 service websites, which can often speed up the pace of getting answers and resources. “But don’t feel as though you have to do that instead of calling,” says Marx. “We want to hear from you in the best way that suits your needs.”


Tags: Public health, Emergency preparedness and response, Public Health , Q&A, Preparedness, United Way, Partnerships

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Case Study: Nashville, TN - Engaging Youth for Community Change

Case Study:  Nashville, TN - Engaging Youth for Community Change | United Way | Scoop.it

Case Study:  Nashville, TN - Engaging Youth for Community Change


The key role of young people in creating Nashville’s Youth Master Plan.   http://www.nashville.gov/mocy/masterplan.asp

Leaders in Nashville, Tenn., created a Child and Youth Master Plan that isn’t just about young people – it reflects the ideas of young people.

 The city’s youth were brought in from the start to frame, build and implement the plan, which serves as a blueprint for revamping youth services and supports throughout the region.

The story begins in January 2010, when Mayor Karl Dean launched a Youth Master Plan Task Force of more than 50 community leaders from all sectors – government, business, education and nonprofit – to build a “roadmap” to focus resources, align constituencies and develop a shared vision for young people in Nashville and the surrounding Davidson County.

 Organizers recruited youth members from the Mayor’s Youth Council, local nonprofits and school-based groups. Two youths served on each of four committees that over the next five months worked on specific issues (Education Lifecycle, Health and Safety, Mobility and Stability, and Out-of-School Time). Mayor Dean also appointed high school senior Jarius Carter as one of three co-chairs for the overall effort.
At about the same time, Nashville was chosen as one of six communities in the Ready by 21© Southeast Cities Challenge, which provided tools and technical assistance to help leaders fundamentally change how they do business for their young people. The task force was trained in implementing Ready by 21 strategies, which include developing a “Big Picture Action Plan” with input from myriad stakeholders, including young people, who played critical roles on several levels.

 The committees took steps to support youth involvement, such as holding meetings outside of school hours, coordinating transportation and addressing communication challenges. Some young people remained deeply involved while others fell away. (The out-of-school time committee, which had the most sustained youth engagement, had several adult committee members who worked with youth-serving organizations.)

Data about Youth To ensure that committee membership was not the only way for young people to shape the master plan, the task force reached out to the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC), which is composed of youth from public and private schools in the Nashville area. The task force saw that the youth council members’ scope, diversity and access to schools meant this group could contribute in many ways.
The MYC crafted the survey about the activities and concerns of local youth, and worked with adult staff on the task force to ensure that the information being solicited aligned with the task force efforts. The questions concentrated on education, safety and health.

 The MYC partnered with public schools to make sure that every high school (including alternative schools) completed enough surveys to be proportionally represented. The public schools distributed and collected the surveys.  Students from private schools made sure that their classmates participated as well.

 The MYC then organized a series of “data entry parties” in which teams of youth entered survey data into an online system. This was no small effort; there were over 1,100 respondents from more than 30 schools.

 Because understanding the state of young people in Nashville required understanding community perceptions of those young people, the task force and city council launched an online community survey as well. Most of the nearly 800 respondents were adults. Among the findings: a strong sense that the community has too few places where young people are welcome and respected, as well as serious concerns about the health, wellness and safety of youth. Findings from both surveys helped inform how young people thought about meaningful strategies for change.

Community Conversations The Youth Master Plan Task Force hosted 10 community listening sessions around the city, which young people helped to facilitate and which were attended by both youth and adults. The youth co-chair of the task force also hosted a series of peer focus groups.

 The Mayor’s Youth Council then used its annual Mayor’s Youth Summit to build on the work of the task force by focusing the discussions on education, safety and health. A full day of youth-designed, youth-facilitated breakout groups with almost 170 student participants from 24 schools helped the council interpret the survey data and hold deeper conversations about key issues. These conversations were organized around three questions: What is working? What is not working? What are your recommendations for improvement?

 After processing the statistics and hundreds of recommendations, MYC representatives presented a summary of their findings at a meeting of the full task force, and shared dozens of pages of raw data. This input shaped and refined much of the subsequent work of the task force.
The task force members did not want to produce just another report. They wanted Nashville’s Child and Youth Master Plan to reflect the uniqueness of their process, in particular the depth of youth engagement. So the co-chairs sent out a call for young people to use writing, painting, drawing or photos to answer this question: “If Nashville were the perfect place for you to grow up, what would it look like?” Many creative entries were included in the report.

 Young people gathered in a final focus group to review the task force recommendations. The group assessed the clarity of the recommendations, their viability in the real world of young people, and whether the report responded adequately to the input from the surveys, summit, focus groups and community meetings. Essentially, young people served as a final review panel, and discussed how to take the final product out to their friends, families and schools.

A Plan that Matters The city launched the plan in July 2010 at the Youth Opportunity Center, a one-stop shop that houses nine youth-serving nonprofits ranging from a health clinic to residential services to counseling and leadership development. Policymakers, nonprofit leaders and dozens of young people joined task force members at the event.

 The plan articulates 14 desired outcomes to ensure all children and youth have a successful future. These outcomes include safe and stable homes, safe places in communities, self-confidence, leadership and engagement opportunities, social equity, caring school environments, physical health and high-quality afterschool programs. The plan provides strategies to achieve these outcomes, serving as a blueprint for government agencies and private organizations to work together, coordinate resources and reach shared goals.

 One example of an idea turning into action: When a task force committee discussed the lack of youth jobs and the need for more opportunities to develop critical skills, build résumés and gain work experience, a youth member suggested more certification opportunities for jobs like babysitting and for certifiable skills like CPR.

That would legitimize and professionalize jobs that are available to youth and build skills that are critical to job readiness. The recommendation made it into the Child and Youth Master Plan; city leadership then integrated such training and certification options in the annual citywide job fair.

 Young people play a critical role in implementation, although sustaining meaningful engagement past the planning stage is easier said than done. Initially, the Mayor’s Office appointed a Child and Youth Master Plan Advisory Council made up of seven youth and nine adults. Youth-adult committees were re-formed based on the key areas of the planning process with the goal of continuing to take the pulse of what is and is not working for young people and to track progress against the plan. However, due to staffing changes at the Mayor’s Office the advisory council was put on hold, and a scaled-back Child and Youth Master Plan Leadership Council was created. Although this new group does not include youth as formal members, the MYC will remain engaged with the new Leadership Council on the implementation of the Master Plan.  

“Youth voice will be important to include as the community comes together to plan action,” said Laura Hansen, formerly of the Mayor’s Office of Children and Youth, and now supporting implementation of the master plan from her position with the Metro Nashville Public Schools. “Collecting youth thoughts and perspectives and empowering them to take action on behalf of issues that directly affect them are both powerful strategies.”


Nashville’s Keys to Success: Principles for Engaging Young People in Community Change


1.  Design an Outreach Strategy – Nashville leadership sought diverse input, and found young people who had access to adult support via a community organization or another mechanism.


2.  Create a Home Base – Choose convenient and consistent meeting locations so that young people develop a sense of familiarity with their surroundings. Meet in youth-friendly places to help young people feel safe.


3.  Convey an Intentional Philosophy of Change – It is important for leadership to state the importance of meaningful youth involvement openly and frequently. The mayor and his staff made it clear from the beginning that young people needed to play a critical role in the process.


4.  Identify Issues – The Mayor’s Youth Council identified issues that were important to young people. This created authenticity and coherence for the plan, and insured that it targeted changes that young people want and need, not just what adults think they need.


5.  Create Youth and Adult Teams – Having two members on each of the planning committees was important. Moving out of the planning phase, leaders are creating pathways for the Mayor’s Youth Council to partner with adults who are involved in implementation. 


6.  Build Youth and Adult Capacity – This is difficult in such a short and intense planning process, but is an important longer term goal in order to build community capacity across generations.


7.  Provide Individual Support – On task force committees where adults had experience supporting young people, the young people felt more supported and therefore stayed more involved. 


8.  Create Opportunities for Sustained Access and Influence – Nashville did not stop at engaging youth in planning; it created mechanisms for youth to participate in implementation as well.


Core principles referenced from Core Principles for Engaging Young People in Community Change, Forum for Youth Investment 2007. www.forumfyi.org/content/core-principles-engagi

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Afterschool Alliance :: Making the Case for STEM Afterschool - Advocacy Toolkit

Afterschool Alliance :: Making the Case for STEM Afterschool - Advocacy Toolkit | United Way | Scoop.it

We know afterschool programs are a great way to get children and youth excited about STEM and should be integral partners in STEM education.  But far too many of our leaders (and even our neighbors!) think of afterschool programs as child care, unaware of all the incredible learning opportunities programs are creating for our students.  They have no idea that innovative and engaging STEM learning is occurring in afterschool programs across our country or how it is inspiring our next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.


This is why educating our leaders and the public through advocacy is so important!  It is vital that all of us make the case to a variety of stakeholders about the importance of including afterschool programs in STEM education reform efforts.

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Parents' Role in School Lunch

Parents' Role in School Lunch                                                                                         By Learning First Alliance on October 25, 2012 10:30 AM  

By Betsy Landers, President of the National PTA


It's a question parents know well: "How was school today?" This year, parents need to ask another question: "How was lunch today?" My hope is that students give an enthusiastic thumbs up, telling a story of a delicious plate full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But let's be honest: children probably won't say that. Not yet at least.


As I'm sure we've all heard by now, school lunches are different this year.  As part of a law that passed in 2010, schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (101,000 schools nationwide) will be serving meals with more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk, and portion sizes appropriate for their age groups.  Why?  There's a laundry list of reasons, but my favorite is that our kids deserve the best, and it is our responsibility as parents and educators to ensure the food they put in their bodies in school leaves them ready to learn and on a path to a healthy life.


It is critical to create healthy eating habits in children now to help prevent projections that half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030 unless Americans change their ways, according to a new report released this month by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Many other studies have consistently shown that obesity is associated with poor levels of academic achievement. Fighting obesity is not just a health issue; it's integral to the academic success of our nation's children.


The reality nationwide is that one-third of our kids are overweight and obese. You've heard that statistic before and you may be thinking right now, "But what about those kids that play sports and need more food!"  These new school nutrition standards were not a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture pulling meal components out of the sky.  They are based on the 2010 Nutrition Guidelines for Americans and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, based on the most updated knowledge of the nutrition needs for the average child in their respective age range.  What's more, for many high school students, calorie levels are similar to previous years; the meals just look less like fast food and more like a balanced meal. That means students may find steamed squash on their plates where there once were tater tots, and chicken nuggets that are baked with whole grain bread crumbs.


An upgrade through most kids' eyes? Probably not! But that's where parents and adults come in. As parents it is our role to make sure our kids get what they need and not what they think they need.  As kids transition to healthier options this year, we must make sure that we are sending a positive message that these updates are what is best for them — physically and even academically. Parents should talk to children about how strong these new meals will make them and how healthy bodies lead to better academic performance.  Parents can bring children along to the grocery store and ask them to pick out the fruits or vegetables that they have tried at school to reinforce healthy habits at home.


One of the criticisms of the new meals is that they are not meeting the needs of student-athletes.  That's a real concern for some students. What can parents do? Most schools have supplementary sides available in the cafeteria that students can purchase.  Some schools may even be able to offer extra fruits and vegetables at no cost to students. To ensure all these options are healthy, parents should talk to the school food service director, administrators and coaches on the options for student-athletes.


Parents can always send additional foods from home for student-athletes to consume during lunch or before practice.  Parents must remember that the new school meals are the baseline and designed to meet the average student's needs.  For children with special dietary needs, parents have to be proactive — working with their children and the school to meet their child's needs, while still respecting the integrity of the program. That program is meeting the needs of most children.

As parents we know that any time there are changes to anything, there are going to be bumps in the road. For too many years, we let many of our children eat foods in school that were too high in sodium, fat and calories for their age ranges, and too low in the nutrients that their growing bodies need. I'd ask again that parents consider asking their children how lunch was when they come home from school this week.  Regardless of their answer, parents should shed positive light on the exciting changes that are going on in the lunchroom.  Because their children are worth it!

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United Way of Northern Arizona backs education measures

October 24, 2012,

To the editor:


United Way of Northern Arizona's Board of Directors recently endorsed the Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment, Proposition 204, and the Flagstaff Unified School District bond request, as part of United Way's ongoing efforts to support the three important "building blocks for a good life": Education, Income and Health.


Investing in education is important to the future of our state and the success of our children. Arizona continuously ranks as one of the worst states for education and that's a clear indication that we need to do something differently. Proposition 204 is our opportunity for change that will strengthen Arizona's economy by providing children with the tools they need to succeed in the classroom. The FUSD Bond measure funds books, technology and facilities required for our students to succeed.


In addition to investing more resources to help schoolchildren and their classrooms at a critical time, Prop. 204 will prevent the Legislature from making any further cuts to K-12 education. The approximate $1 billion in Arizona's operating account to be provided by Prop 204 essentially equates to what was defunded from Arizona education since 2008. The sales tax rate will not increase as a result of Prop. 204, the rate is a continuation of the one-cent sales tax overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2010.


Your vote for education is very important this year, and on behalf of UWNA I'd like to urge you to vote "YES" on Proposition 204 and "YES" on the FUSD Bond. We all win when the education of our children is our top priority.



President and CEO

United Way of Northern Arizona

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New Haven launches city-wide Parents University

Over the weekend, New Haven educated a new class of parents with the launch of the city’s latest school reform initiative ­— Parent University.



Parents University opens

By Monica Disare

Staff Reporter

Monday, November 5, 2012


Over the weekend, New Haven educated an inaugural class of parents with the launch of the city’s latest school reform initiative ­— Parent University.


Designed to teach parents how to help their children succeed in school, Parent University offers workshops and educational resources for parents of New Haven public school children. On Saturday, Gateway Community College hosted the program’s first event, which included more than 35 classes ranging from college preparation to child development. Event coordinators said they were pleased with the program’s turnout, which drew approximately 300 registered attendees. Organizers added that only standing room was available for some of the most popular classes. Parent University is expected to continue throughout the year, hosting smaller functions in local neighborhoods and another city-wide event in the spring.


“Parents are our first and most important teachers. Parent engagement is vital to the success of our students and for New Haven School Change,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said. “Today’s Parent University is part of what will be a broad and sustained effort to engage parents and to provide all families the tools and support they need to help their children succeed.”


Organizers said Parent University workshops were designed to help parents improve their own lives and the lives of their children. Classes focusing on students included, “How to Read with Your Child,” “Cyber Bullying and Social Networking” and “Success in Science,” while classes designated for parental improvement included “Parent Success Plan” and “Employment Marketing Profile.”

Susan Weisselberg, chief of Wraparound Services, which provides social and emotional counseling for students enrolled in New Haven’s public school system, said the parental evaluations collected at the end of workshops were “very positive”.


“People are very energized and excited by the event, which makes it very fulfilling,” Weisselberg said.  Abbe Smith, director of communications for New Haven public schools, said many of the most popular classes were ones that addressed child development and college planning. During “College Planning 101,” for example, parents learned how to apply for financial aid. Lisa Pressey, the parent of a New Haven eighth-grader, said she attended Parent University to learn about the New Haven Promise scholarship. She called Promise “empowering” and said Parent University exceeded her expectations.


The class titled “Addressing the Needs of Urban Boys” garnered a lively discussion about the challenges of raising boys in the city. Brett Rayford, director of adolescent and juvenile services for the Department of Children and Families, spoke about how to help boys navigate career paths, deal with the loss of a father and build interest in education.


While workshops covered a broad spectrum of topics, parents attending the event often questioned how to apply class strategies to their own lives. One parent raised her hand and said it was hard to get urban boys interested in education because boys who do well in school are ridiculed as “talking white” or “acting white.” Rayford talked about solutions to the problem. He suggested a “rite of passage” for boys or career interest tests to help students think about healthy careers early on in their education.


“It’s been there since I was a boy,” Rayford responded. “We devalue those who are focused on academics. It is not cool to be smart, and we’ve got to change that.”


He added after listening to the first session of “Addressing the Needs of Urban Boys,” a group of parents discussed forming a group to try to mitigate the problem. Pressey said she hopes that group comes together and that such a committee could include parents, teachers, administrators and students.


“The whole community needs to be involved,” Pressey said. “It affects everybody.”


Carla Chappel, the parent of a local eighth-grader, said she thought the class on urban boys’ development was valuable, but she had reservations about the first class she attended, which discussed how parents can communicate with their school. She said that while the administrator presenting at Parent University seemed to have a good system in place for parent communication, she is concerned that not all administrators have equally effective systems.


New Haven public school representatives said they hope to have workshops for parents throughout the year at local venues including libraries and schools. In the spring, they said they plan to have another city-wide Parent University at a setting similar to Gateway Community College.


Parent University provided child care services during the weekend event for children ages 3 to 12 at the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School.



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Infographic: The Value of a STEM Education - Edutopia

Infographic: The Value of a STEM Education - Edutopia | United Way | Scoop.it

From Edutopia:  Knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can be the key to a successful future. Here's why a STEM education matters and how you can inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

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Partnerships Advance Financial Stability Goals Across America

Sector-based strategies are an effective approach for increasing the number of people with family-sustaining jobs by aligning education and training opportunities with employer needs in specific labor markets.
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New Partnership Aims to Curb Childhood Obesity by 2015

New Partnership Aims to Curb Childhood Obesity by 2015 | United Way | Scoop.it

Education Week news producer Bryan Toporek brings you K-12 sports coverage that reaches far beyond box scores.



New Partnership Aims to Curb Childhood Obesity by 2015                                                                                         By Bryan Toporek on November 16, 2012  9:28 AM


A new collaborative effort announced Thursday between the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) aims to turn around the nation's childhood-obesity epidemic within the next three years.


Together, the two organizations will focus on six major policy areas, based on research suggesting what's most effective in terms of combating childhood obesity.


Both organizations will "focus on reaching communities hardest hit by the [childhood obesity] epidemic, including communities of color and lower-income communities," according to a press release.


The RWJF will head up the efforts surrounding physical activity, including helping schools and other youth programs increase the amount of physical activity for their students. The foundation will also be funding ways to increase other opportunities to be physically active, such as the building of bike lanes, parks, and walking paths.


While the AHA will largely be responsible for funding efforts regarding nutrition, the RWJF will help underwrite initiatives that increase students' access to healthy food.


The AHA, meanwhile, will be focused on bolstering the nutritional quality of snack foods and drinks sold in schools, reducing children's consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and shielding students from marketing about unhealthy food or beverages. (A study recently presented at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting found large amounts of soda consumption was linked to students being overweight or gaining weight.)

"Some cities and states are starting to see progress in their efforts to reverse the childhood-obesity epidemic," said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the president and chief executive officer of the RWJF, in a statement. "As a country, we're gaining a better sense of what changes work, and now it's time to make those changes in every community. I'm confident this new collaboration with the American Heart Association will help us do just that."

The AHA will also be responsible for tying together all six policy areas that both it and the RWJF will be focusing on over the next few years. To help with that, the RWJF is providing $8 million of initial funding to the AHA to help establish the overarching advocacy initiative.


"Individuals across the country recognize the severity of the childhood-obesity epidemic, and they are counting on their elected and appointed representatives to support efforts to help children lead healthier lives," said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the AHA, in a statement. "We're excited to work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to organize and build support for those policy efforts so the country can make lasting change."


This announcement comes roughly one week after a study projected childhood obesity to cost Maine more than $1 billion in medical costs over the next two decades.


A report released in September from the RWJF and Trust for America's Health suggested that 13 states could have adult-obesity rates higher than 60 percent by 2030, if the U.S. obesity epidemic remains unchecked.


Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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Welcome to the third issue of At the Table: Ideas and Insights from The Integration Initiative! Through At the Table, we aim to share our latest learning on how to make cities places of economic opportunity for all residents.  Through TII, cross-sector teams of decision-makers in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Newark, and the Twin Cities are working to transform key systems in order to produce better outcomes for low-income people.  While the systems vary—from mobility to health to economic development to workforce—we continue to learn a lot from each site about  the leadership infrastructure (what Living Cities calls the One Table approach), and innovative strategies to deploy capital necessary to make transformational change. Now we’re halfway through the first phase of The Integration Initiative.


In this issue of At the Table, we explore how learning is the key measure of progress towards systems change, and how programs serve as a mechanism to learn about a system. We discuss how data is a key factor in this learning, but that there are many challenges to initiatives collecting and using data in strategic ways. We also sat down with Jonathan Sage-Martinson, Director of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, to discuss efforts in the Twin Cities to align the workforce and economic development systems.


These pieces reflect thinking during specific points in time in the midst of complex multi-year work.

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Americas Promise Alliance - Survey shows lack of parental support and teen pregnancy point to higher dropout rates

Americas Promise Alliance - Survey shows lack of parental support and teen pregnancy point to higher dropout rates | United Way | Scoop.it

Via Lindsay Torrico.


The 2012 High School Dropouts in America survey, conducted by Harris/Decima on behalf of Everest College, lists reasons younger Americans dropout of high school. The national survey of 513 adults ages 19 to 35 found that nearly a quarter of Americans cited the absence of parental support or encouragement as a reason for not completing high school, followed by 21 percent who said they became a parent. Other factors that led to students dropping out were missing too many days of school, failing classes, uninteresting classes, and suffering from a mental illness, such as depression.


Other factors that led to students dropping out were missing too many days of school (17 percent), failing classes (15 percent), uninteresting classes (15 percent) and suffering from a mental illness (15 percent) such as depression. The survey also found that women are three times more likely than men, 27 percent versus 9 percent, to leave high school because they became a parent. When it came to the issue of bullying, white respondents, more than any other racial group, cited bullying (14 percent) as a reason for dropping out.


Nationwide, about 7,000 students drop out every school day, amounting to approximately 1.3 million students each year, according to advocacy group Alliance for Excellent Education. In 1970, the United States had the world's highest rate of high school graduation. Today, the U.S. has slipped to No. 21 in high school completion, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.


"The data from this survey is an important step in deepening our understanding of America's high school dropout problem," said survey spokesman John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College. "Americans without a high school diploma or GED test credential face tremendous challenges. This is why we need to continue putting our dropout crisis under the microscope and develop substantive solutions going forward."


More than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents had not considered a GED credential or had looked into it but had yet to pursue entering the program. Time and money were the top two reasons for not seeking a GED credential. According to the survey, 34 percent cited time as a prohibitive factor, while 26 percent said associated costs was a reason for not looking into or obtaining their GED credential. Women were more likely than men to say it costs too much (30 percent vs. 18 percent).


A third of the high school dropouts surveyed said they were employed either full time, part time or were self-employed. Men were more likely than women to say they are unemployed (38 percent vs. 26 percent). Among those who are employed, nearly half (46 percent) said they have little to no prospects for advancement in their current position.


Industries and occupations related to health care, personal care and social assistance, and construction are projected to have the fastest job growth between 2010 and 2020, according to a February 2012 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industries with the largest projected wage and salary employment growth (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecopro.pdf) between 2010 and 2020 include:

Offices of health practitioners Hospitals Home health-care services Nursing and residential care facilities Computer system design and related services

By the Numbers: 2012 High School Dropouts in America Fast Facts

Those living in the West were more likely to say they lacked the credits needed to graduate (29 percent), while those in the East and South were more likely to say they were bullied and did not want to return (16 percent) One third (34 percent) of those unemployed were more likely to say that a GED program costs too much money Six in 10 (59 percent) who work full-time said they do not have the time to pursue a GED

Everest College's 2012 High School Dropouts in America survey was conducted online using the Harris Interactive online panel (HPOL) between Oct.3-Oct.18, 2012 among 513 U.S. adults ages 19 to 35 who did not complete high school. Results were weighted for age, sex, and geographic region to align them with their actual proportions in the population.


Everest College is part of Corinthian Colleges, Inc., one of the largest post-secondary education companies in North America. Its mission is to prepare students for careers in demand or for advancement in their chosen field. Harris Interactive is a custom market research firm leveraging research, technology and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goo

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BUILDING CITYWIDE SYSTEMS FOR QUALITY: A Guide and Case Studies for Afterschool Leaders | Ready By 21

BUILDING CITYWIDE SYSTEMS FOR QUALITY: A Guide and Case Studies for Afterschool Leaders | Ready By 21 | United Way | Scoop.it
While an increasing number of afterschool providers have made quality improvement a priority, addressing quality in a systemic way is complicated: It requires research, planning, building consensus, developing resources, managing new processes and sometimes redefining old relationships. Building Citywide Systems for Quality is a how-to guide designed to support the development of quality improvement systems (QIS) in afterschool settings.  

The guide can help those working to create better, more coordinated afterschool programming start building a QIS, or further develop existing efforts. It describes what constitutes an effective QIS and the tasks involved in building one, and includes examples and resources from communities whose work is blazing a trail for others.


Includes work by United Ways.

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Disaster's Long Tail

Disaster's Long Tail | United Way | Scoop.it
If Hurricane Sandy reminds us of one thing, it's the awesome power of communities to come together and tackle our greatest challenges.
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Health and Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Kids | United Way

Health and Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Kids | United Way | United Way | Scoop.it
Health and Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Kids - United Way...
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APHA 2012: A Q&A with Stacey Stewart, President of United Way USA

APHA 2012: A Q&A with Stacey Stewart, President of United Way USA | United Way | Scoop.it

APHA 2012: A Q&A with Stacey Stewart, President of United Way USA Stacey Stewart, United Way USA President


As thousands of people who are striving to improve health and health care convene in San Francisco, Calif., for the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, RWJF is hosting brief interviews with thought leaders from across sectors. Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide, provided his thoughts on partnerships.


NewPublicHealth also spoke with Stacey Stewart, who was recently named to the new position of president of United Way USA. She was previously the executive Vice President, Community Impact Leadership and Learning at United Way Worldwide. Stewart shared her goals for UnitedWay USA, as well as what she's learned about the integral connections between education, income and health.



NewPublicHealth: What are your goals as the new president of United Way of America?


Stacey Stewart: At United Way we’re celebrating 125 years of history this year, and it’s kind of interesting to take on the kind of leadership role for an organization that has been around this long and been known in communities for so long. But, also to do it in ways that lead us to how we want to be known and how we want our work to be defined, not just in how it’s usually been defined, but how it needs to be defined as we move forward based on what communities really need. I mean, part of how United Way was started was really much more as an organization that was absolutely focused on improving social conditions for people.


We got started in Denver in the midst of the gold rush when Denver was really seeing a lot of people come into the town and thinking they would hit it really big and obviously really didn’t, and a lot of state leaders came together to ask how could we work collectively to address some of the challenges we’re seeing with people in poverty and homelessness and all of that. And they found then that it wasn’t possible for any one organization or state institution to address the problems on their own, that they actually needed to do it together, and that kind of memory still defines United Way in terms of who we are and how we need to go about doing the work.


Obviously, a lot of our history—in terms of thinking about the collective pooling of resources to some extent—is how we galvanize resources to apply to a challenge. But, the reality is that any attempt building on what even financial resources can deal with, it takes a range of different resources—volunteerism, advocates, in addition to the financial resources—to really apply to the issue. So, for me the number one thing is to really reenergize our roots, things that can really help United Way to understand the full breadth of their role in communities as a real convener, and galvanize it toward improving social conditions, especially in the areas of education. And building our capacity as a network to do that and building our relevance in trust as an organization that is focused on that is really critical.


The other thing that we’re really focused on is how are we then seen as a real go-to organization for these issues, a real beacon of leadership in these issues. Not that we’re starting a think tank on these issues, but if we’re a convener on community change, how can we also be a convener on the best thinking and the best practices around this work so that if anybody, whether you’re a policymaker or practitioner, if you’re just looking for who knows the most or who has some of the best ideas around education that I can tap into? How do we create that source of being a repository or that source of information that helps accelerate the work across communities, whether it’s done by our United Way or other partners? It’s just how can we be seen as that beacon or that go-to organization that’s both a thought leader and a real resource to practitioners all around the country? And, I think for a lot of us, obviously, maintaining the strength and health of our network overall has got to be critical.


I mean everyone, especially in tough economic times, is very much focused on resources to do the work and we’re no different in that respect. So continuing to be able to support the resources that are required to make tangible progress on the ground and maintain a real thriving network is something that’s always important to us. To do that so we’ve got to be great partners with people and great partners with our corporate partners, traditional partners…with a range of stakeholders, foundations and think tanks and nonprofit organizations and state and local and federal government partners. Stakeholders all across the board who have focused on these issues and anyone and everyone that cares about the issues of education. We want to be the best kind of partner we can possibly be with them and for them and with them. So those are the big priorities for me.


NPH: What did you learn in your former role as the head of the Community Impact Division of UW about the connection between health, education and income


Stacey Stewart: When you ask people what will help them get on a better path for an opportunity for better life, they raise challenges and opportunities that typically fall into one of what we call the building blocks for a great life -- education, income and health. We also know that people don’t necessarily think about them as separate silos. They’re all related to each other. People in their everyday lives understand that in order for me to get a great job, I’ve got to get a great education, and if I don’t have good health, then I’m not going to be able to get any of that.

We at United Way have always tried to think about integration of these things together and have those ultimately drive community outcomes and individual improvement in an individual's life opportunities as well.


So, when I’ve gone to Denver and seen pediatricians at the table in the discussion on early grade reading levels, for example, that is exactly what a United Way can do.  It’s pulling all of these nontraditional players together. On an issue like education, pediatricians can play a huge role in informing and educating the parents to help support their kids in school as well as making sure that the kids themselves are healthy and have an opportunity show up to school ready to learn. I get really excited about that, about United Way, because I think we bring a unique skill set to people to convene and galvanize multi-sector approaches to the work.


NPH: Where do you see the most potential to make a difference when it comes to cross-sector partnerships to improve the wellbeing of the community? What are the kinds of partnerships that you think need to be at the table beyond what you’ve already discussed?


Stacey Stewart: Well, for us, I think obviously the kinds of partnerships with the best thought leaders in this state or in any of the areas that we’re in are really helpful to us because we see ourselves as the conveners and the galvanizers. We want to look to others who have been the best thinkers and researchers on the issues to learn from them, and just basically take those learnings and apply them in classical ways that can ultimately help communities execute on the work that they try to do. For us, we’re an organization that at our roots, we’re very much local—a set of local organizations with local relationships and local partners all across the community.

The opportunity for us, though, is that to the extent that in most of our work we’re dealing with issues that aren’t just isolated or contained in any one particular community—kind of across multiple communities—the opportunity for us is to think about where partnerships can get traction locally as well as how we can build that partnership across an entire country, across the whole national footprint of the United Way. And, so when we think about, for example, our partnership with the corporate center, we’re thinking about companies and how companies get involved in this work in their own backyards, like in their headquarters community, and how they can make a difference there.


But, many of our biggest corporate partners have a national footprint and increasingly a global footprint, and so we’re always thinking about how we can leverage our partnership with that particular entity that meets them at all the levels of where they’d like to play a role—locally, nationally and globally, if that makes sense for them. We have real examples of where that is really working well, especially at the local level. We’ve got United Ways, for example, in Charleston, South Carolina. They have a Link to Success initiative that’s working on reducing the drop-out rate in high-poverty, low-performing Title I schools, and they do it by thinking about integration of background support that supports both academic and life skills—supports that are needed for children to be able to succeed. So they are involving all of the members of the health community to make sure kids have the right insurance coverage. There’s how our United Ways think holistically about these issues and wants to invite all the right partners to the table so we can dig up solutions together.


What we try to do is, where there are beacons of success in a local community, our role is to try to share that information across our network and across communities so that people don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. They can actually learn what’s working and replicate those practices. That’s an important role we play, but our role is—in particular, my role—to both serve and lead. There are times that we have to lead on some of these issues, lead our network and lead the country in some areas, and then there are times we serve. We serve the needs of communities to try to develop these solutions and come up with the right solutions that they think meet their communities’ needs the best, and we’re always really inspired by when these kinds of successes come up because we learn so much as well about what’s working and what’s not.


NPH: I didn’t have this on the list, but it’s something that you mentioned that I would love to explore a little bit more and that’s around partnerships with the corporate world and how companies can get involved. What is sort of your message point on that, as you’re going to talk to a company about this? What’s the value of companies being a part of these kinds of efforts?


Stacey Stewart: Well, the way that we think about it is that United Way is really positioned to be one of the most effective strategic partners to a company that’s really interested in making a difference in a community. Traditionally, how companies have known us is through operating a workplace campaign and by encouraging employee giving in the workplace. And that really is a core piece of that, and we know that employee engagement drives loyalty. It drives retention, and it drives resources and engagement of those employees into the community issues that are really most pressing, but we also know that companies have broader corporate strategic priorities with respect to their involvement in communities and how they see their role in communities.


We see ourselves at United Way as being able to deliver on a very robust strategic partnership with those companies on their leading corporate social responsibility priorities, and really being a shared value partner with those companies so that the bottom line of improving communities and improving the company’s bottom line can be all achieved. That’s really a win/win situation for everyone involved. What we want to really explore with our companies today isn’t just how much can we expand…it’s how much can the work on education, income and housing be integrated with the company’s priorities to the extent that they want to engage their consumer base in some of this work through volunteerism, through giving, as a result of marketing efforts.


We’re actively exploring those opportunities. We want to lift up corporate leaders as having an important voice on these issues and do whatever we can at United Way to provide those corporate leaders an opportunity to be heard on some of these issues. I think when the business community is seen as a leader in thinking about how to improve communities, I think that’s a win/win for all of us. I used to be chief diversity officer for a Fortune 100 company, and I know for a fact how much diversity and CSR are tied together. To the extent that we could have a company meet its diversity and inclusion goals while also meeting its community goals, there’s a big opportunity for that as well, engaging women, people of color and the LGBT community.


People from all walks of life want to feel connected to a company’s vision, not only in terms of the overall business but in terms of their role in improving community. So there’s a real opportunity for that as well. We think very holistically about our corporate partners. We think about all of their priorities and we think of United Way as a very strategic partner.


Tags: APHA, Health disparities

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Harvard's Lead for Literacy Initiative: Featured Initiative for Policy Makers and Educational Leaders

The Lead for Literacy initiative is a series of one-page memos written for leaders dedicated to children’s literacy development. Each memo revisits assumptions that guide current policies and practices, outlines common pitfalls, and presents feasible solutions to pressing issues.

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How to Turn Your Stakeholders into Fundraisers: Social Fundraising and How Measurement Can Make It More Effective

How to Turn Your Stakeholders into Fundraisers: Social Fundraising and How Measurement Can Make It More Effective | United Way | Scoop.it
Social fundraising is only a couple of years old, but best practices are evolving quickly as nonprofits use measurement to learn what works best.
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Youth obesity to cost Maine $1.2 billion, UMaine study finds

Youth obesity to cost Maine $1.2 billion, UMaine study finds | United Way | Scoop.it

Obesity among children and teens in Maine could cost more than $1 billion over the next 20 years, according to a new University of Maine study. Today, just under 8 percent of Maine’s children and adolescents are obese.



Youth obesity to cost Maine $1.2 billion, UMaine study finds


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By Jackie Farwell, BDN Staff Posted Nov. 05, 2012, at 3:30 p.m. Last modified Nov. 06, 2012, at 8:23 a.m.         Metro Creative  

Obesity among children and teens in Maine could cost more than $1 billion over the next 20 years, according to a new University of Maine study.


Today, just under 8 percent of Maine’s children and adolescents are obese. But as those youths grow into adults, that proportion likely will rise to more than 25 percent, according to the study by Todd Gabe, an economics professor at UMaine.


Obese children are much more likely than their healthy-weight peers to grow into obese adults, the study found. The medical costs from obesity increase as people age.


“We’ve all heard about the nationwide obesity epidemic, and these figures bring the problem — especially the challenge facing our children as they become adults — closer to home,” Gabe said.

The medical costs of obesity — including inpatient and outpatient treatment and prescription drugs — for today’s school-age children in Maine will reach $1.2 billion by 2032, Gabe estimates.

That price tag reflects a snapshot of obesity among the current crop of school-age kids in Maine. It doesn’t take into account obesity among future classes of children entering their school-age years or adults.


The estimate also doesn’t include indirect costs, such as lost productivity at work when those children become adults, a factor some studies have shown to be an even bigger drag on the economy than the direct medical costs of obesity, Gabe said.


“If anything, these cost numbers are conservative,” he said.


Gabe’s study was funded in part through a partnership among the Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; the Maine Department of Education; and UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development.


He used statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and data including about 2,000 school-age children in Maine compiled by physical education teachers in 18 schools across the state as part of ongoing research in the UMaine College of Education and Human Development.


Physical education teachers across the state measured the fitness of students ages 10-14.

Among all age groups in Maine, the medical costs of obesity totaled more than $452 million last year, with most of the expense due to adult obesity, according to the study.


Just under 28 percent of adults in Maine are considered obese. A September study by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation predicted that more than half of all adults in the state will be obese by 2030 if Mainers continue packing on the pounds at current rates.


Adults are identified as obese if their body mass index, a body fat calculation based on individual’s weight and height, totals 30 or higher. Obesity has been linked to numerous health problems in adults, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, asthma and arthritis.

Because children’s body composition depends on gender and varies as they grow, obesity among kids is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as a body mass index above the 95th percentile for children among the same age and sex.


Other studies have shown that childhood obesity is associated with diabetes, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and mental illness.


Gabe also researched ways Maine could potentially put a dent in future medical costs from obesity. The state could save $100 million over 20 years by slashing the percentage of Maine children who are currently obese by 34 percent, he found. Maine could also net those savings by reducing by 12 percent the likelihood that teens who are at a healthy weight today become obese as adults.


A number of approaches aimed at reducing childhood obesity could help to reduce the burden on Maine’s economy, Gabe said.

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United Way Establishes Education Network: Volunteers Can Search Web Site for Opportunities | United Way Allen County

United Way Establishes Education Network: Volunteers Can Search Web Site for Opportunities | United Way Allen County | United Way | Scoop.it

United Way Establishes Education Network: Volunteers Can Search Web Site for Opportunities      

For Release:            October 31, 2012 Contact:                    Molly Link, United Way, 260.422.4776 (work), 260.418.7218 (cell)


United Way Establishes Education Network: Volunteers Can Search Web Site for Opportunities October 31, 2012 (Fort Wayne, Ind.) –


United Way of Allen County’s Education Network consists of 16 local early childhood and youth serving agencies who work together to recruit volunteers and share resources. The purpose of the Education Network is to provide individuals who want to volunteer to help children a “one stop shop” of opportunities from which to select. United Way has launched a web site, www.UWEducationNetwork.org, and encourages anyone interested in volunteering to go to the site to sign up. Volunteers can search according to their interests and availability, as well as view a listing of all Education Network partners and submit a volunteer application form directed to the organization(s) of their choice.


“United Way’s Education Network is integral to showcasing the many opportunities for volunteerism in our community,” said Todd Stephenson, president and CEO of United Way of Allen County. “We know that getting involved in the community with kids early on and continuing throughout their school years is one of the key ways to help them grow into productive and economically stable adults.” “It’s wonderful for so many organizations to come together through the Education Network,” said Sharon Callender, coordinator of Fort Wayne Community School’s Community Programs, which runs Study Connection.


“Not only can we connect with interested volunteers, but we connect with other programs in our community and share ideas and resources.” More than 46 percent of children enter kindergarten unprepared and the most economically challenged kids start school one to two years behind in language and other skills. Statistics also show that nearly 1,000 kids in Allen County do not read at grade level by the end of third grade, an important benchmark to continued academic success.


Programs within United Way’s Education Network need volunteers to get involved when and where they can to help change these trends. Individuals wanting to volunteer with United Way or other area programs to help local youth succeed in school and life can visit United Way’s Education Network to find a fitting opportunity at www.UWEducationNetwork.org or contact Ruthie Krueger at 469-4002 or ruthiek@uwacin.org.


Education Network partners: Allen County Public Library, Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana, Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, CANI Head Start, Catholic Charities, Early Childhood Alliance, Fort Wayne Community Schools Study Connection, Fort Wayne Urban League, Lutheran Social Services of Indiana, MLK Montessori School, Renaissance Pointe YMCA, Science Central, Turnstone, United Way of Allen County and Wellspring Interfaith Social Services

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Working Together to Improve Health: Brian Gallagher Q&A

Working Together to Improve Health: Brian Gallagher Q&A | United Way | Scoop.it
A conversation with Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide about working together across sectors to create lasting change.
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