Finding Solutions: Local Impact on National Issues

At United Way of Story County (UWSC), we believe that when we are United together, we can find solutions that make long-lasting, positive change in the lives of individuals and families, which is why our 2017 LIVE UNITED campaign theme is United Together. Finding Solutions, Changing Lives. We do this because every person in our community has a right to have a good quality of life.
This week, we are sharing how we are Finding Solutions to national issues at a local level. We will highlight one area of need within UWSC’s education, income, and health initiatives.
Education: UWSC works with the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to promote school readiness, attendance, and out of school learning in Story County. Third grade is an important year in a child’s life. It is developmentally the year that a child goes from learning to read to reading to learn, and if a child falls behind in third grade, it is much hard to catch up the remainder of their academic career. 
To help meet this need, UWSC serves as the backbone agency for Story County Reads, a collaborative that involves school districts, non-profit organizations and other experts in the community to ensure all youth in our communities read at grade level by the end of third grade. UWSC works with our partner agencies to get books into the homes of children and families in our communities to promote reading and support school readiness. We also work to educate the community about the importance of school attendance and how one day of being absent from school takes a child three days to catch up. In addition, we work with the school district, community agencies, and volunteers with the summer enrichment programs that meet in Ames, Nevada, Ballard, and Collins-Maxwell. These programs have been very effective in reducing the summer learning loss that many children, especially those from moderate to low-income households, experience during the summer months.
Income: Women United is a United Way Worldwide initiative that is designed to rally women philanthropists around an unmet need in the local community. In 2008, UWSC held community conversations to hear what the core concerns were in Story County. The need for financial education for women rose to the top of those conversations. As a result, an advisory group was formed and a program was developed to teach women financial management skills. The program has continued to evolve throughout the years to include a mentoring component, education scholarships, and booster sessions that enhance the program curriculum and allow the women to put what they learn into practice.
Health: Iowa has 130,000 people with a mental illness. However, our state places 50th in the nation for state beds and 47th in all beds (public and private) that serve people with mental illnesses. This places a need on our communities to address the issue. UWSC is committed to improve the health of Story County, and one of the ways we do this is through funding local programs that advocate, educate, and support individuals and their families affected by mental illness. 
UWSC fights for the education, income, and health of every person in our community. Next week, we will introduce ways in which we are Changing Lives in each of these key areas.
To learn more about UWSC’s funding in local programs, visit or call (515) 268-5142.
United Way of Story County is 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.