Support Children and Families in Utah! Take Action Today!

Emilia Comaiby Emilia Comai
Community and Advocacy Engagement Coordiator

Although Utah’s legislative session is over, our congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. needs to hear from you on critical issues that have a significant impact on Utah children and families.

Action AlertThis week a bipartisan bill called the “Doc Fix” or “SGR” is expected to be debated in the House. Please email your congressman now to ensure Utahns receive these critical services:

  • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) – This program provides voluntary home visiting services to low income pregnant women and new parents. In Utah, approximately 1,200 families are at risk of losing critical services every year.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – CHIP provides essential health care coverage to children living below 200% of the federal poverty level. In Utah, over 15,000 children are at risk of losing their health care coverage if CHIP is not extended.
  • Community Health Center Program – This program provides grants to 13 organizations statewide that provide access to affordable comprehensive primary and preventive care. Without funding, 13 of Utah’s 43 clinics will be forced to close their doors and up to 44,000 patients would lose access to care in urban and rural Utah.

Please contact your congressman now and ask them to vote YES


Leadership Circle Spends a Night Out at the Museum!

drew-martinezby Drew Martinez
Senior Leadership Giving Director

The night was full of laughter, art, delicious food and drinks, good company, and all of it supported a good cause – you can’t find a better way to spend a Thursday night.

Last week Leadership Circle celebrated their second annual event with a Night Out at the Museum! Leadership Circle is made up of business, philanthropic, and community leaders who are over 40 and exemplify commitment and caring with an annual investment in United Way of Salt Lake of $1,500 or more.

Leadership CircleThe 230 members and guests were entertained by the hilarious Jason Hewlett and took an exclusive tour of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. All the proceeds from the night support Leadership Circle’s focus on ensuring kids are on track in reading, math, and science.

Jason HewlettLeadership CircleThank you to our generous event and in-kind sponsors, our emcee, John Youngren, LC Chair Neil Hafer, Events Chair Heidi Walker, and our entire Leadership Circle steering council who helped make the event a success. We especially appreciate all of you that attended this great event and support this amazing group of men and women who make up Leadership Circle.

LC_Footer-LRTo find out more about Leadership Circle, visit our website or contact Drew Martinez at

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A Personal Story – Meet Ken and Find Out Why He has Invested in UWSL for Nearly 30 Years!

By Ken Wainwright, UPS
Guest Blogger
Diamond Donor, Tocqueville Society

My name is Ken Wainwright. My wife Sheryl and I feel honored to support United Way of Salt Lake’s efforts in our community. Sheryl enjoys knitting, genealogy, hiking, and learning. I enjoy hiking, biking, running marathons, and spending time with my wife and family. We have been blessed with 6 children and 2 grandchildren and live in Downtown, Salt Lake City.

ken and sherylI am a supervisor at United Parcel Service, and have worked there for almost 30 years. UPS is a strong supporter of United Way and strongly encourages its employees to give back by donating and volunteering. UPS also matches part of my donation, so it goes even farther. I first learned about United Way of Salt Lake’s involvement in our community in 1985 at UPS’s yearly campaign presentation. I was impressed with what I learned that day, and have gladly given my financial support every year since.

UPS also allowed me to work at UWSL as a Loaned Executive for 5 months. I had the opportunity to see, firsthand, how my money was invested to help those in need. I gained a greater appreciation of the good work UWLS does. It was humbling to see how many needs there really are in our community. I was very impressed with the staff I was able to work alongside at UWSL and its staff and see their desire to help those in need.

We feel giving to United Way is the smart way to give. In our busy lives of work, church, and family responsibilities, Sheryl and I don’t always have the time to find out the most pressing needs in our community and where best to give our support. That is where UWSL comes in for us. They do the research and find the needs in our community, and help support the organizations that can best help those people. United Way of Salt Lake truly gives a helping hand to those who are trying to get back on their feet.

In the past, we gave only to our church’s efforts to help others, but we realized that there are so many more people in our community who are in need that are not of our faith. My wife and I have been so blessed in our lives. We have shelter, food, our health, family support, jobs, and access to great healthcare. We feel it is our responsibility to help those that might need a helping hand to get the same blessings we take for granted. This is why we support United Way of Salt Lake, and will continue to do so.

We are proud to LIVE UNITED!

ken and sheryl1

Music Can Make a Difference and So Can You!

heather-macdonaldby Heather MacDonald
Volunteer & Community Engagement Director

The mission of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy. The ACDA hosted their 2015 National Conference in Salt Lake City which provided a unique opportunity for two UWSL Community Schools to experience performances, coaching, and student interaction with two of the visiting choirs.

Almost 300 choirs auditioned for the opportunity to perform at the Mormon Tabernacle and Abravanel Hall during the conference, and only 22 were selected. From that select group of top performers, Baylor University from Waco, TX and Waukee High School from Waukee, IA were given the opportunity to volunteer as part of their conference experience.

Through the planning process, the ACDA was clear they wanted an opportunity for the visiting choirs to not just perform but to be able to interact with students and offer their expertise. Granite Park Junior High students started out by participating in icebreaker activities led by the Waukee High School students. During their time they also shared lunch, performed for each other, and were treated to a clinic where they learned performance tips and how they could better work together to be a cohesive choir.

IMG_8204“My kids TRULY enjoyed every moment of this experience and it was a highlight of our Salt Lake City experience. I think every conference should have a component that resembles this as it was educational, fun, and incredibly rewarding to work together–confirming that music is a powerful tool that brings people together in unexpected ways.” – Amy Hall, Waukee High School Director of Vocal Music

“The ACDA experience with Amy Hall and the Waukee High School choir was incredible for the students at Granite Park Junior High. The faces of my students said it all. Many of my students have never had the opportunity to see such a high-quality choir performance. It was also incredible for my students to get feedback on their singing from Mrs. Hall. It was an experience that truly inspired my students and one that they, and I, will never forget.” – Melissa Drake, Granite Park Jr. High Choir Teacher

Kearns High School partnered with Jefferson Junior High to share their choir experience with both Kearns High and Jefferson students. The Baylor University choir, directed by Alan Raines, provided an engaging musical performance, participated in some activities with the Kearns and Jefferson students, and shared the message that college is important.

IMG_8195“I think that Alan’s and the choir’s enthusiasm and very approachable manners made the assembly not only an inspirational showcase of college-level talent; but it also sent what I felt was a very clear message to the students that “college is a great place to go…you will have amazing experiences and opportunities if you go.” That message is so powerful with our students here in Kearns where only 68% of Kearns High School students graduate on time.” – Steve Whatcott, Kearns High UWSL Community School Director

Through the power of volunteers, students were able to be inspired, have fun, and learn together.

It’s not too late to get involved in volunteering to support a UWSL Community School or Center through the final months of the school year. Volunteers are still needed to read with elementary aged students, help with end of year test prep, and to act as a positive adult role model by being a mentor. If you can share one hour, once a week, with a student contact Stephanie Rokich at or 801.746.2566 or visit for more information.



Leadership Circle’s ‘Night Out at the Museum’ is Sold Out!

drew-martinezby Drew Martinez
Senior Leadership Giving Director

Tonight, United Way of Salt Lake’s newest Donor Network, Leadership Circle, is gearing up for our second annual event – Night Out at the Museum! We are so excited to have sold out for this event and it’s only our second year! Leadership Circle members and guests will be getting a lot of laughs in from Entertainer, Jason Hewlett, and enjoying delicious food and drinks. We also have some exciting prizes including two stunning watches from O.C. Tanner, and even airline tickets courtesy of jetBlue! Guests will top off their night with a tour of the beautiful Museum of Fine Arts.


We are so grateful to our sponsors for making this night a reality. We also appreciate all the Leadership Circle members and friends that have registered for this exciting night. It’s going to be a great night full of laughter, good food and drinks, beautiful art, and most importantly lots of money raised to support Leadership Circle’s focus on ensuring kids are on track in reading, math, and science.

Remember to follow the conversation on Twitter and Instragram (@UWSL)
during the night with hashtag #LCNightOut! Share your photos with us!

LC_Footer-LRTo find out more about Leadership Circle,
visit our website or contact Drew Martinez at drew@uw.or


Five Ways Guadalupe School is Changing the Odds!

Guadalupeby Danielle Lankford
Guadalupe Developmental Assistant

The community partnership between United Way of Salt Lake and Guadalupe School is a perfect match – because, we too, are committed to changing the odds. Our school is comprised of five unique programs, each aimed at fighting the cycle of poverty through educational resources. Here are five ways that Guadalupe School is Changing the Odds for kids and families in our community.

We understand that unfortunately, children growing up in poverty often miss more school days, struggle to make good grades, are less likely to go to college or vocational school, and as a consequence, are less likely to break the cycle of poverty as adults. Realizing that immigrants and their children are especially prone to these issues, our founder, Suzanne Weiss, began an experiment in 1966. What she discovered was that incredibly positive outcomes could be achieved if these specific community members, from all walks of life, had access to quality education. Now, nearly fifty years later, with all five programs under one roof, Guadalupe School is still proving that changing the odds is far from impossible.

DSC_0146ONE: It may seem as though the early childhood programs would have been the logical place to start with Guadalupe School, but actually, it was the Adult Education program that came first. When it began, it offered an inviting meeting place for adult immigrants, dedicated to learning English, in order to better their lives. Now in 2015, under the direction of Kate Brainerd, Adult Education has the capacity to change the odds for 300 adults who want to learn or improve their English for their career, to be a better advocate for their children, or simply to be more integrated in the community. Our adult students can attend classes during the day or evening, and have access to committed volunteer tutors. Brainerd says her students constantly remind her that “hard work can compensate for lost time, education, and opportunity.”

TWO: After spending time with adult immigrants, Weiss became aware that the odds were stacked against their children in regards to education and opportunity. To combat this, the Guadalupe Charter School was formed. The Charter School has a small student/teacher ratio, to ensure each child gets as much individualized instruction as possible. Our teachers are educated professionals who are dedicated to the mission. Sixth grade teacher, Mits Bryant, calls his fellow teachers “compassionate and hardworking” and his students “enthusiastic” about learning. THREE: The sixth grade was just added to the charter school when we moved into our new building in the Fall of 2014. The expansion gives Guadalupe School the opportunity to reach even more families in the community, and to ensure even more children get to middle school, high school, and beyond with a strong foundation of essential learning skills.

DSC_0215FOUR: In an effort to give our students the best odds possible from the very start, the Early Learning Center was added in 1992. The ELC is comprised of our In-Home, Toddler Beginnings, and Preschool programs. The In-Home program provides support to parents of infants and pre-toddlers who may otherwise not have any. When it comes to these very early stages of life, normal development and quality care are essential. That is why parent educators perform weekly visits to make sure babies are growing into happy, healthy toddlers.

GuadalupeFIVE: The next stage of early education is our Toddler Beginnings program, which is a literacy-based enrichment program. Toddlers attend five days a week, in order to become acquainted with a school-like atmosphere, to interact with other children, and most importantly engage in early math and reading activities. At age three, toddlers move on to preschool, where “play” based learning is the emphasis. Our preschool curriculum is also vertically aligned with our charter school, so when the children move on to Kindergarten, they have all the skills necessary for success.

Together, all the ELC programs give families access to top-notch child development programs at no cost at the ages when enrichment is most important. This early intervention allows Guadalupe School to help change the odds before they are even stacked.

Guadalupe School is proud to stand with United Way of Salt Lake’s commitment to changing the odds, because we know it can be done with hard work. With so many programs making positive strides toward ending the cycle of poverty, we are always reminded that it is never too early, nor too late, to make a difference.


Policy Matters – Wrapping Up the 2015 Legislative Session

Emilia Comaiby Emilia Comai
Community and Advocacy Engagement Coordinator

Thank You for Taking Action This Session!

The 2015 Legislative Session came to a close last week, and a lot happened in 45 days! Thank you for your dedication, and for taking action this session! Whether you made a phone call to your legislator, sent them a personal email, or came up to Capitol Hill — it all makes an impact.

One issue that is still unresolved is Healthy Utah. On the last day of the session, Governor Herbert held a press conference with Speaker Hughes, President Niederhauser, Sen. Shiozawa, and Rep. Dunnigan. They announced plans to continue negotiations on Medicaid expansion, and introduced HCR12 Concurrent Resolution on Healthcare, a commitment from both the House and Senate to find a solution to the healthcare coverage gap.

Our fight is not over! We will be sending you updates and Action Alerts as these negotiations continue.

Please take a moment to thank the legislators who supported this issue, and encourage them to keep fighting for Healthy Utah!

Email-your-LegislatorsFind out what happened with the bills we tracked this session through our comprehensive Bill Tracker!

Continue to join the conversation with us on Twitter: @UWSL, and use #utleg, #utpol.