Page 16 - Scene Magazine 41-12 December 2016
P. 16

Non Profit Scene
Looking Back, Moving Forward: United Way’s Regional Vision
BY CHRIS SARGENT
   Most people are keen about moving forward. Making progress. Accomplish- ing things. So when December rolls around, we peek back at the year to make sure we’re further along in our journey.
At United Way, the journey through 2016 has been exciting – outdone only by the adventure that lies ahead.
Since our founding, United Way has brought together people, resources and passion to address the needs in our com- munity. “United” is the heart of our exis- tence. That will never change.
At the same time, we’ve seen the region’s needs evolve. As we listen to donors, partners and others in the com- munity, one message comes through loud and clear: Our regional community wants meaningful, measurable, lasting change. Band-Aid approaches won’t cut it anymore.
That input, gathered across diverse audiences across our communities, led us to define a regional vision to guide
the work of United Way: A vibrant com- munity where all people realize their full potential.
What does that mean? It means our United Way is diving deeper to tackle specific, pressing issues in Education, In- come, Health, and Basic Needs. It means working together across every sector to transform people’s lives. It means what our mission statement states so clearly: Drive impact by leading shared efforts that engage diverse people, ideas and resources.
Now, you and I know that a vision can inspire and a mission can give guidance. But if those things don’t translate into goals and actions, they’re just words.
United Way is determined to make our vision and mission real.
As part of our journey through 2016, we established specific goals, strategies and measures of success for our focus areas – each with an eye on how they move our region closer to the vision:
A vibrant community where all people realize their full potential.
Basic Needs – Ensure a safety net to help individuals and families access basic necessities in times of need. Mea- surement: Programs, partners and sys- tems are in place to provide that safety net.
Education – Improve high school graduation rates and reduce racial and economic disparities in graduation rates. Measurement: Improve graduation rates for students of color and low-income students, with an overall increase in the regional four-year graduation rate to 83% by 2030.
Income – Increase the number of economically stable households in our region. Measurement: Transition 8,500 households to economic stability by 2025.
Health – Improve family and infant health, and reduce racial and economic disparities in health indicators. Measure- ment: Improve the Infant Mortality Rate in families of color and low-income fam- ilies, reducing the overall regional rate to six deaths per 1,000 births.
These are big goals. No single organi- zation can do it alone.
And that’s where “united” comes into play.
In 2016 alone, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region announced more than $7 million in grants to 125 programs in these focus areas. Crucially, we’re working with 70 different partner agencies to drive these programs and make progress on these goals. We’ve also engaged more than 3,200 volunteers who are passionate about creating this kind of sustainable change.
All of that in one year.
What will 2017 bring? More prog- ress and success. More people engaged. More lives changed in amazing ways.
That’s an exciting way to end the year and embark on a new one. Find out how you can be part of that journey at www. changethestory.org.
I hope you’ll join us – because the adventure has just begun.
Chris Sargent is Interim Chief Exec- utive Officer of United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. Contact him at csargent@uwbckr.org.
     HELP MAKE THAT VISION
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