YLS “Movie and a Mission” Inspires Young Adults

By Richard Drieberg, YLS Issue Awareness Committee Member, Enterprise Valuation Group More than 40 people attended the event which featured a screening of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, the acclaimed 2010 documentary focusing on some of the failures of the American public education system. The documentary hones in on a number of public school students from diverse backgrounds and also transformational education reformers such as Geoffrey Canada. While the movie entertained the audience with touching personal stories, surprising statistics, and humorous missteps along the educational reform path, its ultimate message was clear: American public school students deserve a better education than what they are receiving today. To that end, the United Way’s Katie Cangemi followed the screening with an overview of the LIVE UNITED 2020 vision and ambitious goal of helping 50,000 early-childhood and middle school students from under-performing areas succeed as they prepare to take their next step along their education journey. The vision focuses on the two most influential transition periods in a student’s life, and aims to ensure that younger children enter school ready to learn, and middle school students enter high school prepared to succeed and on the track to graduate. The movie’s message resonated and even brought tears to many of the viewers, but the path to ultimate success for the students featured in the film is still in question. The LIVE UNITED 2020 vision will work to make sure so that hard working students throughout the city will get the high quality public school education that they deserve.

What it Takes to Restore a City

What does it take to save a failing neighborhood? A question with no definitive answer, it’s being echoed throughout the Chicago area with urgency. With crime rates skyrocketing, home foreclosures booming and record-setting population loss, community activists are left wondering how to save their city. A recent article in RedEye, ‘Englewood: Serious Business‘ reflected on the issues one particular Chicago neighborhood faces. Most recently known as the hometown of NBA star Derrick Rose, many in the area believe positive role models and sports may bring light to the neighborhood. Others argue that education and literacy are keys to a successful revival, as they are the roots of change. What do you believe is the way to restoration for Chicago’s deteriorating neighborhoods? Education, positive role models, a return to family-oriented beliefs or something more?

How Teaching English Taught Me

The following blog is posted on behalf of Esther Hicks, Director of Community Investment at United Way DuPage/West Cook. We always say that you have the most impact when you give, advocate AND volunteer.   Over my past three years with United Way, I have definitely found this to be true.   I recently finished a two-year tutoring experience with an adult English language learner in my community, and it was literally nothing short of life-changing.   I know that the main point of tutoring or mentoring is to help your student or mentee, but especially in my case, she really helped me, too. Having grown up thoroughly middle class, it can be difficult to imagine what it’s like for someone who lives in the DuPage area to live under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (about $22,000 for a family of four), which is the level at which we consider a family “in poverty.”   My student and her husband both work, but they are minimum-wage and somewhat seasonal jobs, so their family falls below poverty level.   Yet, somehow they make it work, and I have been so impressed with how they manage.   They have a tightly-knit extended family in the area, so her kids are often playing with cousins and they all share babysitting duty when others have to work.   They have a cellphone and some video games; they aren’t destitute, yet the family of five lives in a two-bedroom apartment. What really made an impression on me is that this family uses social services in our region that are supported by United Way in all three of our impact areas.   The literacy program that connected us is funded under our Financial Stability portfolio; her kids have all attended early childhood programs funded under our Education portfolio; and she and her husband use Access DuPage for health services, which is funded under our Health and Wellness portfolio.   They are truly the picture of the hard-working family that is able to make ends meet with a little support from community organizations. And, just like we require of our programs, I can really see the impact and results that these programs have had on her family.   Because of her increased English abilities, my student has gotten a raise and now trains newer employees at her job, and occasionally translates between Spanish-only employees and her English-only manager.  She would tell me about the healthy eating and child safety tips she received and started using from the home visitor through her youngest daughter’s early childhood program.   If she was sick and had to miss work, she would tell me that she went to her doctor and used her “medical card,” which refers to an affordable medical care program funded within our Health and Wellness portfolio. Although my student has graduated from the literacy program, I know that all she has learned will have a ripple effect throughout her family.   One of her primary goals had been to help her kids with their homework, and I know she feels more able to do that, and in turn will help ensure that they graduate high school and go on to college.   Her goal of being able to speak with doctors and teachers has already improved, and she’s an active volunteer in her children’s classrooms.   She doesn’t aspire to be a CEO or make a six-figure salary, yet I think the goals she set and the achievements she’s made are exceptional accomplishments themselves.

Txting & Drivng: It Can Wait

Texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field completely blind[1]. Texting while driving is becoming an epidemic in our country, its negative effects spreading like wildfire. Drivers, especially young drivers, are failing to realize the potential effects such a trivial action can have on their lives and the lives of others. With a multitude of serious injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving each year, people are taking notice and asking how they can stop it. AT&T not only noticed, they are doing something about it. To battle the growing popularity of texting while driving, AT&T is telling all who will listen, “It Can Wait.” In partnership with Illinois high schools, AT&T is aiming to reach teens, teaching the importance of safe driving with a Don’t Text While Driving Documentary and a student competition that encourages young drivers to take the pledge to not text and drive. They hope this campaign will make drivers more aware of their texting habits, and to think about the consequences before picking up a phone while driving a vehicle. The success of the campaign rests on those it reaches. Get involved by signing the pledge to not text and drive or share the word with posters and badges. You can also join the movement on Facebook. Help save lives by spreading the message of “It Can Wait.”

[1] AT&T It Can Wait Infographic http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=6209&cat=92&u=1414

Live United with Pride

United Pride is proud to announce United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s second annual appearance in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade. After a year’s worth of hard work improving our organization’s culture, practice and relationships, we’re ready to celebrate! Pride is a time of year to stand together and commemorate another year of growth and acceptance. It is also a time for us to share ourselves with Chicago’s LGBTA community. United Way of Metropolitan Chicago is proud to be a presence in the community by supporting the programs that provide services to those with the greatest need. Our community impact work goes far beyond funding. We’re able to implement resources through volunteerism, advocacy, community leadership, capacity building and so much more. As we look forward, the future holds exciting things for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. We will narrow our resources into communities that are comprised of people living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and continue our focus on the building blocks of stability; education, income and health. This will create a ripple effect of change throughout Chicago and its surrounding communities, creating long term solutions to achieve our goal of LIVING UNITED. So be safe during Pride and when you see those United Way marchers on Sunday give ‘em a shout out because they’re working to ensure that the LGBTA community LIVES UNITED.