The mission of United Way of Story County (UWSC) is to be a strategic leader in building countywide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community. A key component of the mission – evaluate effective human services – explains how we determine whether the financial investments we make in programs are making a difference. And that is important.
In the fall of 2015, the UWSC Board of Directors began working to identify priorities in the community focusing in the areas of Education, Income and Health. They split into work teams and began the task of reaching out to the community to help develop the plan.
The work teams included staff members to help facilitate the discussion and bring resources to the table to better inform the board on issues. Included in the discussion was how progress will be measured and how agencies will report the work they are doing back to UWSC. The results that the work teams determine are as follows:
• Result 1: Children enter school developmentally on track
• Result 2: Children exit 3rd grade reading at grade-level
• Result 3: Story County residents are educated on local issues and are provided tools to advocate for themselves and others
• Result 1: Individuals and families achieve financial stability
• Result 1: Story County residents have access to enough food and healthy food
• Result 2: Children, youth, and adults have access to needed mental health care
• Result 3: Story County residents are emotionally and physically well
At this point in time agencies report progress of individual programs twice a year. Agencies funded through the ASSET process must submit a 6-month progress report in December and an annual report in September. Volunteers serving on ASSET, along with staff members, review all of this information and during the hearings in January ask questions to clarify reports and budget requests.
The information collected through the ASSET process is valuable, but UWSC wants more information on how lives are being changed. We want to see that the programs funded are making an impact in the lives of those being served. We want to know that children are reading at grade level because of the Iowa Reading Corps; that women are making better financial decisions because of the workshop series through Women with Initiative; and that individuals are staying healthier because of the preventive dental treatments they are receiving. In order to do that we need to gather information that will tell us the real differences our funded programs are making. By being better informed we can assure donations make an even bigger impact in the lives of our friends and neighbors.