United Way of Susquehanna County Launches 2016 Campaign by Helping Children Do Well

UncategorizedSep 27 2016Comments Off on United Way of Susquehanna County Launches 2016 Campaign by Helping Children Do Well

Press Release
REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

United Way of Susquehanna County
693 Main St
New Milford, PA 18834
Submitted by: Kim Merithew, Director of Corporate and Community Giving

United Way of Susquehanna County Launches 2016 Campaign by Helping Children Do Well

United Way of Susquehanna County (UWSC) has an exciting new direction as dollars raised through our annual fundraising efforts support programs that “Help Children Do Well”.

This year, UWSC is investing in local community agencies which support academic readiness, mentorship, childhood wellness and family stability. In addition, UWSC is funding agencies that provide safety net services and emergency aid to individuals and families who face an immediate threat to their well-being.

The traditional funding model is changing. In the past a donor would generously give to UWSC and UWSC would spread a little bit of money far and wide to lots of worthwhile agencies to advance their missions. While good, the reality is need continues to grow. Important issues and root causes were not being addressed with this model. UWSC needed to get at the root of what drives issues that impact our community such as unemployment, crime, addiction, abuse, food insecurity, education, etc.

There are 2,173 children under age five living in Susquehanna County and 81% are living in economically at risk families. When children experience risk factors such as living in economically stressed families, poor or no pre-natal care for the mother, parents with low educational levels, abuse and neglect, they are more likely to enter school behind, and fail in school. The more risk factors the child experiences, the greater his/her risk of school failure. Research has shown that at-risk children who receive quality early education can catch up to their peers in language, math and social skills before they reach kindergarten, so they are ready to succeed in school and in life. These benefits last a lifetime.

In 2014, the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development completed a study on UWSC’s behalf. Despite the many good things happening in our community, it was clear the indicators pointed to kids being left behind. The study revealed a sharp increase in:

  • Increase in childhood poverty rates
  • Increase in number of children qualifying for free or reduced lunches
  • Single parent households
  • Grandparents raising grandchildren

Our volunteer advisory committee made the bold decision to narrow our focus to increase our impact while asking donors to continue to support our new direction of helping children do well and supporting safety net services.

This required critical analysis and difficult decisions. Input was gathered from subject matter experts from all facets of the community (education, business leaders, residents, faith leaders, non-profits, government, etc.). UWSC, along with many others, is being called to lead in helping children do well in our community.

In addition, another way we are doing so is the recent partnership and launch of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL). Why DPIL? If UWSC can work in tandem with our dedicated educators to help improve high school graduation rates it is a common sense indicator to invest in programs and initiatives that support our community’s success.

Children are learning to read up to 3rd grade. From 4th grade on, children are reading to learn. If children don’t have the basic reading fundamentals and access to books early on how can we as a community expect them to succeed academically? It is important to note that the percentage of children not proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade is a good predictor of future drop outs. Countless studies show that a focus on early grade reading is directly linked to improved high school graduation rates.

A free, high quality book is being mailed to the home of children registered in DPIL from birth to age 5 and is theirs to keep. Although the program is available to all households regardless of income, UWSC is specifically focusing its attention on registering children living in economically at risk households. If UWSC can get books in the hands of kids and encourage and help parents be better readers to their kids along with helping to improve nutrition and family stability we are contributing to making sure kids show up prepared to learn.

With studies indicating that 90% of brain development occurs by age 5, UWSC and DPIL are focusing on kids from birth to age 5 and expect that kids will be more confident and will graduate on time. The community will see a long term improvement as this investment in funding programs help children do well is a long term proposition for years to come. This shift represents a multi-generational approach as our work not only helps children but is helping families, too.

Do we really expect these kids to come prepared to learn without the right tools? These kids trajectory in life is set well before they ever set foot in a classroom. We have to show families living in Susquehanna County the importance and value of education.

So, how can you help support the work UWSC is doing? Two ways:

  • 1st-Help spread the word about the work we are doing and the programs we are investing in even if you choose or are unable to fund UWSC with a donation
  • 2nd-Help generously fund this important work and consider getting involved by volunteering

Lastly, UWSC continues to fund through donor support the 2-1-1 service which serves the community in times of need and disaster by connecting individuals and families to health and human service organizations. It’s free, confidential and available 24 hours per day/7 days a week.

Please Give Where You Live. Visit unitedwayofsusquehannacounty.org to make your gift or call 570-465-3868.

Thank you.