United Ways across the country are continuing to move their community impact efforts forward. Many United Ways focus on categories, such as education, income, and health, and some United Ways focus on a specific issue, such as poverty, homelessness, or hunger. United Way of Central Virginia (Lynchburg, Virginia) has taken the next step on their community impact journey by focusing on the issue of education readiness.
In 2013, we helped them select their issue and develop a plan to guide United Way of Central Virginia in their transition to an issue focus with our Direction-Setting Process. They chose to focus on the issue of education readiness and are now communicating their bold goal of “90% Third Grade Reading Proficiency by 2025.”
What are they doing right?
First, they have a “Statisticks Lottery” video on the homepage of their Web site, which explains how you can help change the future for children in Central Virginia (like Jamie in the video), and concludes with local superintendents saying they support United Way of Central Virginia and their Education Readiness Initiative. This is a great way to explain what United Way of Central Virginia is focused on addressing to donors and community members who visit their Web site. They also have an “Education” tab at the top of their Web site with information about their Education Readiness Initiative and bold goal, as well as Born Learning resources.
Second, they are acting as a convener in their community and recently held their first annual 2015 Education Summit. United Way of Central Virginia invited their community to help them move the needle toward their goal for Central Virginia of 90% Third Grade Reading Proficiency by 2025. Nationally-recognized speakers addressed the key issues facing children and families, and discussed how the community can begin to help them work on entering school ready to learn and succeed. Attendees were invited to work in focus groups with subject matter experts and facilitators with a goal of completing the beginnings of a Community Solutions Action Plan for education readiness in Central Virginia.
Third, they are communicating a bold goal, replacing their campaign goal. They have also set sub-goals within their bold goal to address the issue of education readiness. United Way of Central Virginia has indicated that they want programs to meet their metrics and have dedicated funding to meet their goals.
United Way of Central Virginia has done a great job of communicating about their issue focus and bold goal, and convening their community to address the issue. Adopting an issue focus just as United Way of Central Virginia has done will help your United Way to communicate more clearly and simply what you do. Donors and community members will be more likely to donate because they will better understand how their contributions will make an impact in the community. United Way of Central Virginia, you are Doing It Right!
If you are interested in learning more about adopting an issue focus at your United Way, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a complimentary handout to share with your board and staff.