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Local InterestBY MATT LYNNNASA’s Mission Operations team, the ground-based ex- perts who manage every jot and tittle of American as- tronauts’ work in space, proudly wears a patch with aLatin phrase: Res Gesta Per Excellentiam. It means “Achievement Through Excel- lence.”For the space program, that philoso- phy marks the difference between success and failure, the safeguard between life and death. At United Way, we share that same commitment to our work.United Way tackles the toughest prob- lems facing our region: Children unable to read, learn and succeed. Babies dying before their first birthday. Families falling into poverty. People in crisis struggling to reclaim their lives. Disparities across race and income that leave thousands of indi- viduals behind.To achieve greater things, our commu- nity can’t settle for anything less than ex- cellence. Neither will we.Two years ago, United Way of the Bat- tle Creek and Kalamazoo Region set big, long-term goals that get at the root of those hard-hitting problems:• Improve the regional four-year gradua-tion rate to 83 percent by 2030;• Transition 8,500 households to econom-ic stability by 2025;• Improve infant mortality rates in fami-lies of color and low-income families to6.0 per 1,000 live births by 2025;• Ensure a safety net of basic services forpeople in crisis.Since then, United Way has forged powerful partnerships – across communi- ties, across disciplines, across populations, across nonprofit agencies, across business- es and governments and donors. We’ve in- vested in 141 programs and initiatives that drive progress on these region-wide goals. We’ve built an engagement strategy that’s connecting people – from individuals to corporations – personally and directly to the needs.We’re also strengthening the bonds of teamwork. Individual agencies do many good things on their own, but greater, last- ing impact happens when we come togeth- er. That’s where United Way excels. We do what no other single organization can doAchievement Through Excellencealone: We bring together every resource, every partner and every voice to tackle the toughest community problems collectively.So how are we doing on those goals?In the weeks ahead, United Way will is- sue a report with measures that show where progress is happening – where investments are paying off, where partnerships are de- livering solutions, and yes, where more work needs to be done. Here’s a glimpse of some shared successes:• 89 percent of elementary school stu-dents who had reading mentors becameproficient readers.• 85 percent of African-American moth-ers gave birth to an infant of healthyweight.• 61 percent of multi-racial working indi-viduals who earned credentials through workforce training gained higher wages and earned income.• 9,993 people in need received transpor- tation assistance so they could get to work, to health care appointments and to other services.• 5,192 people volunteered their time across our impact work, from preparing food kits for hungry families to deliver- ing diapers for at-risk infants.None of this happens without commit- ted partners. None of this happens without smart, passionate people stepping up and teaming up. None of this happens without generous donors who provide the fuel for this important work.None of this happens without YOU – your commitment, your involvement, your ideas and energy. We need you to join our mission. You are a crucial ingredient in the recipe for excellence. And through excellence, we can achieve a vibrant com- munity where all people achieve their full potential.Matt Lynn is Vice President of Commu- nity Impact for United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. Find out more at or email us at REPORT CARD I SCENE 4307 27

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