This past spring, six of ten United Way Neighborhood Network Initiative coalitions came together for a two-day “Design Institute” to discuss what it means to be part of United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative.
Coalition partners shared both common and unique community challenges, the accomplishments and strengths of their work together, and initial ideas for the issues they’d like to tackle as part of their work with United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. Partners from Brighton Park and West Chicago, where United Way has established Neighborhood Network goals and work underway, provided valuable perspective on their experience and results to date.
This fall, members of coalitions in Austin, Evanston, Robbins/Blue Island, Little Village and West Chicago—are finalizing a common goal they plan to address together as part of the Neighborhood Network Initiative and the strategies and programs they need to build on or develop to achieve them.
Recently in Austin, lead partner Austin Coming Together announced their goal to dramatically improve 3rd grade reading levels to address better educational outcomes overall. After third grade, students use their reading skills in order to learn across all subjects—science, math and social studies. If children aren’t reading well, they are likely to fall behind in all subjects. Community strategies supported by United Way include increasing quality early learning opportunities, improving the ability of residents to secure higher wage employment, and improving community safety. Under consideration in other communities are reducing incidences of domestic violence, lowering levels of chronic disease and childhood obesity and raising high school graduation rates.
As part of the Neighborhood Network Initiative, United Way works with community coalitions to coordinate resources and strategies to address specific neighborhood-level issues. This focused collaboration, aimed at big challenge, results in more long-term individual and community-level change than any one organization or program can achieve alone.
To learn more about United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative, contact Jeanette Castellanos Butt at Jeanette.Butt@uw-mc.org or call 312-906-2284.