At the end of 2021, United Way of Story County (UWSC) was knee deep in analyzing our Year Two results, as part of our 2025 Community Impact Goals we defined in early 2000. This five year impact plan is structured around our key focus areas of health, education, and financial stability while looking through an equity lens.
The pandemic hit mere moments after we set out to create this bold impact plan. But what are goals if they don’t withstand events that our outside of our control? Life is never as expected and UWSC strives to ensure that individuals in our community are set up to succeed, even (or especially) when life throws out the most unpredictable of events.
These goals are ones we strive to reach by 2025:
Health: Improve community health by serving 4,500 more people
Education: Decrease the achievement gap by reaching 30% more underserved learners
Financial Stability: Strengthen financial stability by increasing the number of people served by 25%
With two demanding years behind us, we can say that through the difficulty, we’ve exceeded many of our targets and the work to climb ahead is still moving forward.
In health, we’ve reached a 22% increase over our baseline data from fiscal year (FY) 2018-19. Even with multiple food and nutrition programs closing due to the pandemic, other programs flourished. Like Meals on Wheels, delivering to more than 400 seniors in our community. The BackPack Program™, funded by UWSC, distributed over 6,500 bags throughout elementary schools in Story County. Nearly 19,000 individuals were served to improve community health and access to programs.
In education, we saw a great decline in our last report with the sudden closures of schools and educational programs across the county. Despite these significant declines, our partners and programs reacted quickly to find new creative ways to engage learners after a tumultuous year. We achieved an increase of 18% over our baseline, up 65% from last year’s decline! 617 children in UWSC funded programs improved or maintained their reading levels. UWSC continued to provide significant financial support to the Iowa Reading Corps program ensuring 154 struggling readers had evidence-based reading interventions they needed to succeed.
In financial stability, we saw a decrease in the number served relevant to our baseline. With Year Two being fully within the impact of the pandemic, we knew this goal would be hit hard. However, we see these numbers trending upward so far in Year 3. During Year 2, UWSC saw a definite impact on employment. By receiving a grant from Iowa Workforce Development, we initiated a collaborative “Story County Workforce Innovation Project”. The results speak for themselves. 26 students graduated from the project receiving certificates in a new career field. Within 3 months, 42% were employed in their new field and seven saw a wage increase of $2.75 an hour average!
For the full Year 2 report, please visit www.uwstory.org/impact. The goals we have committed to as an organization are ensuring that your dollars donated to United Way are making real, life-changing impacts right here in your neighborhoods and communities. With support throughout the county, together we are creating a world where everyone has the resources they need to reach their potential. So many things in life are beyond our control. With United Way, you can be sure that help is there when you need it.