Public Policy Agenda
United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s public policy agenda reflects the work of United Ways across the state in the areas of education, income and health. Additionally, United Way advocates for sound policies affecting the non-profit sector’s capacity to advance the common good. United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, along with our sister office United Way of Illinois has established engagement strategies within each of the following four areas:
Where’s Our Partner?
As the largest private funder of human services across the state, United Way and its partners have invested in individuals and neighborhoods—supporting youth, providing job training, helping the elderly and those with disabilities, and connecting individuals to physical and mental health care. In all of these efforts, United Way has played a parallel role with the state to build a strong human infrastructure in communities across Illinois.
We are part of what was once a public-private partnership. However, our public partner has recently abdicated responsibility for individuals and families who need and benefit from strong community support. Twenty-two months of a state budget impasse and hundreds of millions in unpaid bills have left community resources depleted and directly damaged the social and economic fiber of neighborhoods across the state.
A recent state-wide survey of human service agencies conducted by United Way of Illinois shows significant damage to service delivery just three months since agencies were given a small stop-gap funding “reprieve.”
We know that committed, stable investment in our young people and in training for living wage jobs is key not only to solving social challenges like poverty and violence, but also to growing our economy. The lack of urgency from the state in passing a full and adequately funded budget—stopgap measures are band-aids—is nothing short of negligent given rising violence in our metro area, population decline and the loss of jobs and talent we’re experiencing in Illinois.
Some may see this funding crisis as an opportunity to roll back the state’s responsibility for community well-being—to let the private sector step in. But that’s impossible. According to the same survey data, 9 out of 10 service providers have been unable to replace even 25% of the loss in state funding. United Ways and other organizations, along with generous Illinoisans, are doing their best on the private end of this partnership, but cannot plug the hole left by the magnitude of the state funding gap. Nor is it our role to do so. We need our public partner to resolve their issues and get back in the business of ending violence, putting people to work, enrolling students in state schools and making Illinois a great place to live.
United Way of Metropolitan Chicago
333 South Wabash Avenue, 30th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604 | tel 312.906.2350 | LIVEUNITEDChicago.org