For the past nine months, the board of directors of the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area has been implementing its new strategic direction of focusing on three specific areas of impact: School Readiness, Self-Sufficiency and Community Health. Impact teams consisting of 49 United Way board members, plus interested community volunteers, met dozens of times in the past year to develop priorities within each impact area. Our board invited local nonprofits to submit proposals that would help meet the priorities in each of those areas. Our United Way is investing a total of $634,038 in grants this year to local programs, and for the first time has provided some multi-year grants.
The priorities of the SCHOOL READINESS impact area are: to provide home-visiting services for families with children zero to three years old; increasing the access to quality early education through the Virginia Star Quality Initiative; and to partner with schools, preschools and community groups to improve children’s successful transition to kindergarten.
School Readiness Impact Team Members: Eric Johnson, Chair; Bill Bradley; Peter Chapin; Mike Chinn; Bryan Elliott; Frank Friedman; Rondi Furgason; Phil Garland; Michael Geismar; Amanda Hoffman; PK Kamath; Chris Laing; Chris Lee; Brad Ramsey; Bill Wardle.
School Readiness grant partner programs:
- The Home Visiting Collaborative, consisting of Jefferson Area CHIP and CYFS, received a three year grant,
- CYFS’s Child Care Quality program also received a three year grant.
“Multi-year funding is something new for us,” notes Cathy Train, United Way’s president. “But in the case where there is a strong, ongoing program with proven results that specifically addresses our priorities, we felt that investing for the long term could create some momentum in children growing up healthy and arriving at school prepared to succeed.”
Our United Way’s SELF-SUFFICIENCY impact area team’s goal is to “invest in individuals and families working to become financially stable and economically independent.” “We found that this goal really spread across all three of our impact areas,” Train states. “A family struggling to make ends meet, or parents working two or three jobs without health insurance, doesn’t leave time to help children with homework or ensure adequate preventative health care.” Our United Way sought programs that addressed one or more of these priorities: addressing barriers to employment and job training for unemployed/underemployed local residents, including promoting high school graduation and post-secondary education; increasing access to financial education, literacy and budgeting; and supporting employment through adequate and accessible transportation, child care and shelter.
Self-Sufficiency Impact Team Members: Deborah van Eersel, Chair; Charles DuBose; Sasha Farmer; Adrian Felts; Dan Goodall; Fred Greer; Peter Harbilas; Allen Hughes; PK Kamath; Jim Kennan; Don Long; Abby Lunn; Susan Prindle; Joyce Robbins; Phil Sparks; Juan Wade; John Young.
The United Way has partnered with the following programs to help address these priorities:
- Changing the Odds, which addresses teen readiness for workforce, college and financial independence, offered by the Boys and Girls Club;
- Family and Individual Development Program, which teaches financial literacy to low-income, mentored adults, offered by Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries;
- Strive, a one-on-one mentoring program from Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries focused on goal setting and accountability for Charlottesville High School boys received a three year grant;
- Computers4Kids, which provides long-term mentoring, technology training, computer access, job readiness skills and college to career guidance to low-income middle and high school students, received a three year grant;
- Bank on Great Charlottesville is a program of the Legal Aid Justice Center that expands access to affordable financial services and financial education programming for unbanked and under-banked households;
- The Adult Tutoring program of Literacy Volunteers – Charlottesville/Albemarle has received a two-year grant to serve students attempting to pass the G.E.D. test;
- The Re-entry Services program of OAR/Jefferson Area Community Corrections assists ex-offenders with their reentry needs as they transition back into the community;
- PACEM’s Journey Advocate program received a two year grant for providing one-on-one mentorship for shelter guests who are employed or have regular income;
- The Center of Hope, a Salvation Army program that assists homeless families to recover from homelessness to lasting self-sufficiency through employment, housing, meals, clothing, furniture, education/life skills programs and local collaborations with holistic assistance;
- The Salvation Army’s Emergency Shelter provides temporary and long-term shelter, money management skills, educational and life skills programs, meals, clothing and furniture;
- The Welfare to Work program of WorkSource, which provides economic opportunities for low and moderate income citizens through workforce development activities aimed to support a job placement program for persons with significant barriers to employment who are making the transition from welfare to work.
Our research determined that in the area of COMMUNITY HEALTH, the priorities were clear: improve prenatal care and the health of babies; promote physical activity and improve the nutrition and eating habits of local residents, or other obesity prevention projects; and increase access to preventative and basic health care resources for underserved persons, including low-income and rural communities. “The United Way is invested in building a community where people are healthy and have access to needed care,” says Train. “We need to help develop healthy habits, starting at an early age.
Community Health Impact Team Members: Liza Borches, Chair; Guy Babineau; Glenn Bannan; Spencer Birdsong; Lisa Cannell; Deborah Conway; Margery Daniel; Dorrie Fontaine; Ray Mishler; Gary O’Connell; Eunhee Park; Jim Richardson; Carolyn Schuyler; Jim Shannon; David Stebbins; Margo Szeliga; Mike Wesson.
In order to meet the priorities of the Community Health focus area, the United Way is partnering with the following programs through grants:
- The Mobile Food Pantry, run by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, distributes nutritious food, including fresh produce and perishables, directly to needy clients living in underserved, rural communities surrounding Charlottesville;
- The Community Action on Obesity Program, run by the Community Action on Obesity Task Force, reduces barriers of access to healthy foods for low-income or working poor for improved nutrition and eating behaviors and provides activities utilizing consistent motivational techniques emphasizing the outdoors to increase active lifestyles for a lifetime;
- The Child Victims Health Access program of Foothills Child Advocacy Center provides a comprehensive continuum of physical and mental health services for 250 child victims of physical and sexual abuse and assault annually, and received a two-year grant for a forensic nurse;
- The Teen Pregnancy and Parenting program of Jefferson Area CHIP supports success by encouraging teen parents to continue their education, receive prenatal care, delay pregnancies and understand the important role they play in their children’s lives;
- The Neighborhood Health Outreach program is an obesity prevention partnership between the Women’s Initiative and the Martha Jefferson Hospital Wellness Clinic, and received a two year grant for its neighborhood-based offerings.
“By focusing our investments on specific goals and priorities, and through encouraging partnerships and collaborations with similar or complimentary programs with long-term goals and measurements,” Train declares, “it is our hope that we will create substantial positive change in our community.”
None of this would have been possible without the leadership of our Campaign Chair, Alison DeTuncq, president of UVA Community Credit Union, who led teams of volunteers in raising the funds necessary to address these priorities. And, in the end, it is the members of our community - our donors - who have invested their money in improving our community, that we have to thank. Together, we WILL make a difference.
Posted by: Kim Connolly