When most people think of United Way of the Southern Tier, they think first of fundraising. It is true that United Way is the number one fundraiser as well as the number one funder of human service programs, aside from government, in Chemung and Steuben counties. What many people don't know is how active United Way is year round. United Way is hard at work researching community needs, investing the money it raises, and tracking results.
The focus: keeping Kids on Track
Reading is a critical bridge to success in school, work and life. From birth through the third grade, children are learning to read; by fourth grade, they should be reading to learn. That is when course work becomes more difficult and reading becomes an even greater challenge. If a student is behind at this critical juncture, he will have increasing difficulty keeping up in the years that follow. This is even more profound for children in lower-income circumstances.
United Way of the Southern Tier is working with a host of other organizations and individuals across the community to identify and coordinate vital supports for the birth to 8 continuum that build and reinforce quality preschool experiences, elevate purposeful attention paid to school attendance, and ramp up 12-month literacy experiences that set the stage for later learning. This multifaceted approach is intended to capture the potential of working together across all sectors, generating positive results for children that pay dividends, now and into the future.
At the core of the investment process is a set of five key investment values that drive all funding decisions for United Way. They consider client need, the program's demonstrated ability to achieve positive results for the people it serves, how well the program aligns with United Way's strategic direction in the community, how effectively the program uses a broad array of resources to get results, and its efforts toward continuous learning and program improvement. Well-run programs that align with identified priorities and get solid results are good investments for our community.
In 2015, your donations are invested in programs and services that align with researched community priorities:
- Kids on Track (early childhood development and literacy); and
- Community Supports (other youth programs that mutually reinforce UW's focus on literacy, financial stability, health and safety, and access to services and volunteer opportunities)
Investments are also made in targeted community initiatives that strengthen the stability of families and their ability to access the services they need to be successful. United Way develops, supports and maintains positive community partnerships that leverage funding, services and other resources that yield positive results.
Current Community Initiatives
- Attendance Awareness: Chronic absence - missing 10 percent of the school year, or just 2-3 days every month - can translate into third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing courses and ninth-graders dropping out of high school. The impact hits low-income students, who most depend on school for providing opportunities to learn, particularly hard. This critical issue is preventing too many children from having a chance to learn and succeed. United Way is helping everyone in a community recognize that they have a stake and a role in ensuring that students are in school every day so they can learn.
- Every Student Present: A public awareness campaign designed to help school staff, parents and communities understand the impact of chronic absence—missing 10 percent of school. The goals of the campaign are to promote awareness of chronic absence and to build capacity among schools, families and communities to reduce it.
- 2-1-1 HELPLINE: A free hotline that helps connect people with programs, services and volunteer opportunities in our community, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 2-1-1 HELPLINE directory is also available online and may be customized for special topics (i.e., Teen Helpline).
- CA$H (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope): This volunteer tax assistance program provides free tax preparation and assistance for working families that make $57,000 or less.
FamilyWize Free Prescription Discount Program: Another partnership intended to improve financial stability in our community is with FamilyWize Community Service Partnership. UWST is distributing 10,000 free prescription discount cards throughout the community. These cards can provide a substantial savings on prescription medications, depending on the drug, and are accepted at most local pharmacies. With this program, people without health insurance, or who have to buy medicines not covered by insurance, Medicare or other programs, can now afford their medicine and basic needs.
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