2014 Community Impact Data and Why it Matters

What does it mean to work toward collective impact? It means establishing broad community goals, focusing on long-term community-wide solutions, and striving to create change throughout the entire community, not just isolated areas. Collective impact means targeting interventions to address problems early on, before they get out of hand. It means emphasizing the role of measurable results in decision-making, and not judging success based on stories or public perception.

Based on input from donors and local partners, as well as the experiences of others, United Way developed Impact Initiatives that focus on the building blocks of life for all united way, financial stability, health, education, income, healthy communitiespeople: Education, Income and Health. We’re not alone in believing that our whole community thrives when people have a quality education, sufficient income, and good health. Research shows that education is linked to fewer crimes, better physical and mental health, and greater tolerance for others. Having enough income ensures people can end the cycle of financial dependency and focus on the important things – like their families and future aspirations. Good health generates success in school, contributes to job stability, and decreases complications during the aging process. Each building block is closely intertwined. Since 2012, United Way has been realigning its work in the community to focus on these key areas. While basic needs services are also supported, United Way is committed to proactively working to fix causes, not symptoms.

Education Highlights – In the area of education, we’re fostering environments that encourage children to flourish, not ones that are huge obstacles to success. That means providing research-based tutoring for children to read proficiently by fourth grade, instead of trying to help youth survive after they’ve dropped out of school, something that’s four times more likely to happen if they don’t hit that benchmark .

  • Ninety-three families worked with United Way case managers this school year, creating stable environments for struggling students.
  • Three hundred and twenty-nine suspended or expelled students were able to get back on track through out-of-school learning, counseling and mentorship.
  • Mentors and tutors worked with 3,198 students, improving skills and exhibiting positive behaviors.
  • Nearly 80,000 books were sent to the homes of preschoolers.

Why it matters:

  • An unstable home environment can be devastating to a students performance. Common problems include; unstable housing, food insecurity, unreliable transportation and lack of support. By supporting children early in life, we can improve their chances of educational success and create a stable foundation for long-term success. On average, low-income children start kindergarten 12-14 months behind their peers in reading and skill development. (The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading).
  • Suspended or expelled youth are six times more likely to repeat a grade. In addition to the education and well-being of the student, each time a student repeats a grade, it costs local taxpayers $11,420 (North Dakota Department of Instruction).
  • Research indicates that parents are twice as likely to read to their children when enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (Center for Urban and Regional Applied Research).

Income Highlights – In the area of income, working toward collective impact means targeting interventions to help people overcome barriers to sustaining employment, a key step to self-sufficiency, instead of providing endless Band-Aids.

  • Basic needs assistance was provided to 5,294 people. Targeting individuals who needed support for retention of housing and employment.
  • One hundred and sixty-eight people found and started jobs.
  • Job training, resume assistance, financial counseling, transportation and childcare assistance reduced employment barriers for 329 individuals.
  • Low-income workers used 1,375 transit passes to get to and from work.

Why it matters:

  • Despite our impressive unemployment rate, 14 percent of children in our region live in poverty (North Dakota Kids Count).
  • Preventing homelessness is a good investment. One year of homelessness costs taxpayers an estimated $30,000.
  • In Burleigh County, the living wage for a single parent with one child is $34,573. At minimum wage, an individual would have to work two full-time jobs to support their family of two (Living Wage Calculator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Health Highlights – For our health initiative, collective impact means working to make sure hunger doesn’t hold anyone back from living a quality life. It means making sure everyone, including low-income and senior community members, has the opportunity to improve their health.

  • The United Way Backpack Program provided 42,192 meals, reducing stress and hunger, and improving health and performance for nearly 500 students.
  • More than 100,000 home-delivered and congregate meals helped seniors remain independent and healthy.
  • Three thousand five hundred and forty volunteers logged 55,727 hours in 2014.
  • Nearly one million meals were provided in our region.

Why it matters:

  • Stress and health concerns related to food insecurity were identified as major barriers in our community by local school officials.
  • Access to nutritious home-delivered meals is one of the most significant factors in keeping aging adults healthy and independents (Meals on Wheels Association of America).
  • Volunteerism increases well-being and offers opportunities for socialization. It also saved our community an estimated $1.3 million in 2014 (Independent Sector).

Thank you for helping us reach these milestones. If you have questions on this data or are interested in becoming a part of the community impact process, contact impact@msaunitedway.org.