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United Way of Lancaster County recently changed its funding model. How is it different now and why the need for change?

After listening to hundreds of business leaders, nonprofit directors, subject experts and community members, United Way of Lancaster County shifted to focusing its resources to mobilize the caring power of our community to achieve impactful, systemic social change within our community. The vision we set for Lancaster County is to achieve Four Bold Goals by 2025:
  1. 100% of our children will enter kindergarten ready to learn
  2. 100% of students and adults will have post-secondary credentials
  3. Decrease individuals and families living in poverty by 50%
  4. 100% of individuals, children and families will have a medical home

These goals are BOLD, but attainable. And because they’re community-wide goals, it will take collaboration among many organizations to reach them. It will take all of us. This change was necessary because community issues weren’t improving under the old process. While agencies were delivering quality programs to help people, there wasn’t a system in place across the County to address the underlying reasons why people needed that help. Rather than assist one individual at a time to obtain their GED and gain job skills, the new process looks at why students aren’t finishing high school, and then putting systems in place to help them achieve that goal.

Why these particular goals?

United Way of Lancaster County is responding to the data. These Four Bold Goals focus on achieving what Lancaster County residents said was the most important. Our professionally-researched Community Needs Assessment showed that education, health and financial stability are the largest areas of concern. The passion people had about these specific targets and the valuable results to be achieved when we reach them told us that these were the right goals to focus on.

Those are lofty goals. How are you going to achieve 100%?

These aspirational goals will enable United Way of Lancaster County—with the support of the community— to achieve the hopes and dreams of our community. To address the increasing needs of our neighbors means that we must address the underlying causes and stop bandaging problems they create. As for the 100%, who is the child that you leave out? Who doesn’t need to have the educational credentials to get a job with a livable wage? Who should be left without reliable, consistent, and quality health and wellness care? And while we wish it would be possible to raise 100% of Lancaster County residents out of poverty, the state of poverty is complicated—with many moving parts—so our goal of reducing the number of Lancaster County residents living in poverty by 50% is, indeed, lofty.

How will United Way of Lancaster County work toward achieving these Bold Goals?

United Way of Lancaster County has invested in Collective Impact Partnerships—groups of nonprofit organizations, schools, school districts, educational foundations, faith-based groups, businesses, and government—who have developed strategies to help us achieve our Four Bold Goals. We have invested in three-year grants to 17 Collective Impact Partnerships made up of more than 100 individual organizations.

How do you select your Collective Impact Partnerships?

A team of community volunteers, business leaders and United Way staff review proposals. Each proposal is evaluated on its merits and its alignment to our Four Bold Goals. The Collective Impact Committee (a commitee of our Board of Directors) makes final approvals of proposals received.

What is Collective Impact?

Collective Impact is the means in which to achieve community impact. Through the power of working together, organizations:

  • Agree to a common goal;
  • Agree to track progress in the same way;
  • Bring their expertise and skills together while identifying new ways to work together;
  • Have skilled and dedicated resources to support ongoing efforts.

By fully adopting the collective impact model of problem-solving, these Partnerships are identifying new ways of working together and maximizing their strengths, while measuring progress toward these goals with the help of Franklin & Marshall College's Center for Opinion Research.

What is unique about collective impact is the discipline required to achieve social change. Solutions to complex social problems will come from the interactions of many organizations within a larger system. Collective impact requires investors, volunteers, nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, businesses and government to come together in different ways.

What are other ways United Way of Lancaster County supports the community?

Beyond the work of our Collective Impact Partnerships, United Way of Lancaster County funds three specific programs to aid Lancaster County residents:

  • 2-1-1 Information and Referral Service - One of United Way of Lancaster County's signature programs, Pennsylvania 2-1-1 East (formerly known as LINC), has 43 years of experience providing information and referrals for a broad range of services. When you call 2-1-1, trained information and referral specialists answer your questions - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - and connect you to the many health, human service, community and cultural resources that can help.
  • Volunteer Center - Looking for a way to share your time and talents as a volunteer? Each year, 15,000 caring individuals and families give back to their Lancaster County community through volunteer service. United Way's Volunteer Center is the one-stop source of volunteer service opportunities from hundreds of organizations. These include nonprofit, health and human service, educational, faith-based, environmental, and animal protection agencies.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) - The VITA program provides free income tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income individuals and families. More than 200 community volunteers are trained as tax preparers and meet with clients one-on-one to file their taxes. Each year, VITA brings tens of millions of dollars back into the local economy through refunds to more than 11,000 clients.

What are the ways I can offer support to my community through United Way?

There are many ways that individuals can make a big difference!

  • Become an investor in BOLD change by giving a gift to United Way's Community Impact Fund. This gift will be divided among the Collective Impact Partnerships to serve the greatest need
  • Invest in a specific partner agency of your choice through a designated gift (minimum gift of $100)
  • Volunteer in your community by utilizing United Way's Volunteer Center
  • Spread the word about what you have learned about United Way and what you fight for toward a better Lancaster County

Will I still be able to designate during the United Way of Lancaster County campaign to my favorite charity?

Yes. We will continue to welcome designations to specific nonprofit organizations. As before, they must be IRS 501(c)(3) organizations engaged in health and human service work.