United Way Announces Goal To Help 50,000 More Graduate



Mayor Emanuel attends United Way’s Education Initiative Breakfast

On Friday, September 9, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago (UWMC) announced its goal to help 50,000 students graduate from high school over the next 10 years. United Way will begin this work with a $9.3 million regional investment in two laser-focused education strategies; early childhood education (children aged 0-5) and middle school transition into high school (students in 6, 7, and 8 grade).

“At United Way we believe a quality education is the foundation of lifelong learning, good health and economic success. Without an education, we know that people are far more likely to experience economic stress and poor health outcomes,” said Wendy DuBoe, Chief Operating Officer, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. “Our vision depends on all of us. It is our hope the community will join us in our very real and measurable case for focused action.” 

Of United Way’s $9.3 million investment, $5.3 million focuses on middle school programming and $4 million will be directed toward early childhood learning interventions.  

“Chicago has a chance to turn the corner. The decisions we make in the next two to three years will determine our future for the next 15-20 years. We have a responsibility and we will not let children and parents down,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am grateful for United Way’s investment in our children. Together, we can help Chicago lead the way in education reform and ensure that every child, in every neighborhood in Chicago has access to a world-class education.”  

The achievement gap begins before school does. Nationwide, 1 in 3 students do not finish high school time. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 46 percent of kids start school without the skills they need to learn.

“No other issue is more critical to our economy and our way of life than education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “While visiting cities across the Midwest, I want to take the opportunity to promote the valuable work teachers, parents, and administrators do every day to change students’ lives and ultimately, invest in our nation’s future.” (as approved to use from earlier press release issued by Department of Education)

In addition, for every $1 invested in early childhood programs, communities will see at $14 return on that investment in community savings. Research shows a strong correlation between being ‘off-track’ in ninth grade and the likelihood to drop out before high school. However, with the right supports in place, students that are not on track in grades 6-8, can turn things around to improve during their 9th grade year.

“An educated workforce is essential to ensuring that our region is competitive both nationally and globally. It is critical that the private sector becomes engaged in this work. If we leverage all our assets — money, volunteers, advocacy, expertise, the faith-based community, parents and teachers — we can create a powerful force for change,” said Rick Waddell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Northern Trust. Waddell is this year’s United Way Community Impact Chair.

United Way will work with 48 non-profit partners, of which 26 programs will work on the middle school strategy and 31 programs will focus on early childhood learning. United Way funded programs are working in 72 middle schools throughout the region. Chicago Public Schools make up 47 schools where United Way funded programming will occur (seven of those are charter schools). More than 22,000 students alone will be impacted by United Way’s education investment.

This education platform serves as the third and final pillar for the implementation of “LIVE UNITED 2020,” United Way’s ten-year commitment to transforming communities of greatest need, named United Way Partner Communities. In addition to its goal in education, United Way launched its income and health initiatives in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Together, education, income and health serve as the three building blocks of stable families.

Through LIVE UNITED 2020, United Way will advance the economic stability for 100,000 households and connect more 200,000 people with available preventative health services, in addition to its education goals. Additionally, United Way will continue to answer the immediate crisis needs of 1 million people every year by providing shelter, food and freedom from violence.

As part of its holistic look at communities in need, United Way will position community schools as a ‘place-based’ hub of service to create strong families and vibrant communities. As income and health funding comes up for renewal over the next two years, United Way will wrap its resources into the same communities and continue to build upon the LIVE UNITED 2020 community strategy.

United Way is also proud to partner with the corporate community on the Education Initiative. OfficeMax Incorporated, headquartered in Naperville, is the first company to adopt a community school in one of United Way’s target Partner Communities. Granting $1 million over three years, OfficeMax will support Freedom Middle School and Youth Crossroads, located in Berwyn, who will use the donation to help improve education by boosting classroom and community services for the school’s students and their families. Working with United Way is an extension of OfficeMax’s ongoing support of education. Since 2007, OfficeMax Goodworks programs have contributed more than $14 million in grants and supplies to support teachers and classrooms across the country.

“We are excited to partner with the United Way on its Education Initiative and to be the first company to adopt a community school,” said Carolynn Brooks, president of OfficeMax Charitable Foundation. “Education is an important cause for OfficeMax because, as a leading office products supplier, we interact with the education community on a daily basis. When we help improve education, we can help improve entire communities.”

Also contributing to United Way from the corporate community is McCormick Foundation. For the past two years, United Way and McCormick Foundation have partnered to apply solid, research-based strategies to help children in the communities of greatest need succeed in school. Grantees will operate in Chicago and suburban community schools or centers providing comprehensive academic and social service support to middle school children and families in need.  

“The McCormick Foundation and the United Way share a commitment to education and the critical role it plays in the lives of children and their families and ultimately, in the strength of our community,” said David Hiller, President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “By combining our resources, we can have even more impact in helping at-risk youth build skills and knowledge that will help them succeed in school and life.”

For a complete listing of United Way Partner Communities, funded programs and schools impacted, please visit www.liveunitedchicago.org  




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