Our mission is:
To mobilize human and financial resources for improving and maintaining the quality of life of county residents by linking partnering agencies, programs, donors, and volunteers.
Norm Brunner of Brackney, PA started the Susquehanna County Charities Distribution Fund (CDF) in 1961. He started the CDF as a way to capture dollars being donated at the workplace to United Ways in other counties.
In 2001 a Program Director was hired and plans for the Charities Distribution Fund to become a United Way were made. That year the Community Foundation conducted a capital campaign to raise money to start a United Way. $300,000 in pledges and $100,000 worth of services-in-kind were raised.
The United Way of Susquehanna County (UWSC) transitioned from the Susquehanna County Charities and Distributions Fund to UWSC in 2003. UWSC is an affiliate of United Way of Wyoming Valley.
In 2014, the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development completed a study on UWSC’s behalf. Despite the many good things happening in Susquehanna County, 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 the number of children qualifying for free or reduced lunches
- Single-parent households
- Grandparents raising grandchildren
UWSC volunteer advisory committee members made the bold decision to narrow the focus to increase impact while asking donors to continue to support this new direction of helping children do well and supporting safety net services.
This required critical analysis and difficult decisions. The 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 Susquehanna County.
In 2016, UWSC launched the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Susquehanna County. The Imagination Library provides a free, high-quality book that is 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 they 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 UWSC’s work not only helps children but is helping families.