Changing the Odds with TeamRaiser!

Dennis Huynhby Dennis Huynh
Community Investment Advisor

On Wednesday, August 13, the Resource Development team from United Way of Salt Lake was spotted at Fat Cats enjoying a lovely day full of bowling and pizza. What was the cause for such celebration? Well, the RD Department (Rebenue Rousers) raised the most money from TeamRaiser during UWSL’s Internal Campaign! Congrats Rebenue Rousers! And many thanks to all those who contributed and made the celebration possible!

For those that do not know what TeamRaiser is, it is an online tool that allows companies to reach beyond its employees when running a workplace giving campaign. Employees set up giving pages, explaining what LIVING UNITED means to them. Employees are then able to share those pages with their networks through social media and email in order to have others participate in the giving! Through TeamRaiser, the friends and families of employees are able to understand our important work here at UWSL and it gives them an opportunity to make an investment to help us change the odds so that all children and their families – even in our toughest neighborhoods – have the same chance to succeed both in school and in life.

Overall, United Way of Salt Lake was able to raise almost $8,000 just from TeamRaiser alone! We had 163 total contributors. Great job everyone! Thank you to the friends and family members of the UWSL staff for showing us how to LIVE UNITED!


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Women in Business | United Way of Salt Lake

Jerilyn Stoweby Jerilyn Stowe
Vice President of Marketing and Communications

United Way of Salt Lake serves children and families in Davis, Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties. This four-county area represents approximately 1.4 million people or about 52 percent of Utah’s population. Established in 1904, its original mission was to help the poor, discourage panhandling, and coordinate multiple programs. Today, the organization has transformed into an agent for social change focused on Collective Impact—bringing the community together to break down silos, set shared goals, work across sectors, and align programs and resources. In neighborhoods across the valley, the odds are stacked against kids and families, one in three children are living in poverty, two out of three are behind in math and reading, only half are graduating from high school, and very few go on college.

United Way of Salt Lake has made a promise to change these odds, so that all children and their families have the same chance to succeed in school and in life. To do this, the organization engages more than 33,000 donors, over 18,000 volunteers and advocates, and partners with over 70 nonprofits, cities, schools, and government agencies to work together in the neighborhoods with the most significant challenges.

For the past fifteen years, President and CEO, Deborah Bayle, has led a dedicated and passionate team that is 73 percent female. Women have leadership positions in almost every department of the organization and take on many roles. From working with business and community leaders to develop solutions to problems affecting our community, to working with lawmakers to develop public policies, women have many opportunities to cultivate their skills and abilities, and lead the way for community-wide change. These women, invested in and dedicated to United Way of Salt Lake, are changing the odds for kids and families in our communities.

In a state where female leaders are largely underrepresented, United Way’s mostly female staff has put United Way of Salt Lake on the map. The organization has been identified as one of the top 41 local United Ways, demonstrating results and impact, among the 1,800 United Way organizations around the world. United Way of Salt Lake has received national accolades for its work on early childhood education, community schools, and its ability to engage major donors as key partners in its work. With its smart, strategic, and talented women leading the charge, United Way of Salt Lake is building a stronger community today, and for years to come.

Women in Business**This article appeared in Utah Business Magazine, August 2014**

Kearns High Community School Adding 9th Grade!

Steve Whatcottby Steve Whatcott
Kearns High Community School Director

Beginning August, 2014, 9th grade students in Kearns who have always attended their local junior high schools will now be attending Kearns High Community School. This represents a significant change for not only students and their families, but also for the junior and senior high schools. Both Jefferson Jr. and Kearns Jr. will lose a third of its student body as well as dozens of teachers and other support staff. At the same time, Kearns High will add almost 800 new students, bringing the total student population to nearly 2,400 students. They will be adding over 25 new teachers, plus additional administrators, counselors, and other support staff. The change will require extremely creative use of facilities and resources, including rearranging several teachers’ classrooms and building multiple new portable classrooms.

So why go through all of this hassle to change something that has been functioning for decades? What could possibly prompt all of this disruption? Simply put, students must come first. Specifically, student graduation. With only an average of less than 67% of students receiving their high school diplomas over the past five years, hundreds of students each year are falling through the cracks. For most of these students, the slide begins during their ninth grade year. Course grades count towards high school graduation in ninth grade, even though they are taken at the junior high school. Unfortunately, many students begin digging a hole for themselves by failing multiple classes during freshman year. For some who fail as many as 10-20 quarter credit classes, that hole can get very deep before even setting foot in high school. This year, over two-thirds of incoming sophomores will have at least one F in a core subject; that puts them off-track for graduation and at-risk for dropping out.

The goal in having ninth grade students attend high school is to not only significantly reduce the number of students who fail classes, but also to constantly reinforce the message that all students can succeed and graduate high school being college and career ready. The atmosphere at Kearns High is very welcoming. It also actively promotes high expectations for student achievement. It offers multiple opportunities to connect to the school via athletics, the performing arts, school organizations, and clubs. Students will be served by the same school counselor for four years. The counselor, along with other mentors and school support staff will be able to constantly guide, motivate, and direct students to what they need to be successful, graduate, and prepare for life after college. Most students have chosen to enroll in the Frehsman Academy, a semester class designed to support students’ study skills and help them focus on how to effectively direct their high school education towards college and career readiness. If they meet their goal, more and more ninth grade students will not only survive, but they will really thrive at Kearns High School!

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Kearns Jr. High

Associated Food Stores Pledge to Read. Graduate. Succeed.

timby Tim Harrison
Senior Community Investment Advisor

The Associated Food Stores consist of many of the grocery stores we know and love, including Dan’s, Dick’s, Macey’s, Lin’s, and Fresh Market. On top of providing super-fresh goods for us, they’re also champions of giving back to the community.

This week marks the end of a month-long volunteer recruitment effort to get employees, customers, and friends to sign up for Read. Graduate. Succeed. The corporate office has participated for about a year now, and after experiencing how flexible, organized, and rewarding the program was, they decided to roll it out to ALL 42 STORES in Utah. Here’s what one AFS volunteer said:

“I have to admit knowing that I made a difference in the life of a child was the best reward and I will continue to support, participate, and love this program! … When I read I was able to have my darling 16-year-old daughter come with me. What a great opportunity for her to realize at a young age that she can make a difference and she really enjoyed doing this.”

Thank you to Associated Food Stores, for rolling out the most ambitious Read. Graduate. Succeed. volunteer recruitment strategy yet! And, of course, thank you to our friends at AmeriCorps, Read Today, and other United Ways across Utah for making this all happen.

Pledge to support the program yourself today!

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Helping Those in the Healthcare Coverage Gap

sandra_carpioby Sandra Carpio
2-1-1 Project Manager

As a United Way 2-1-1 Navigator, I have been able to assist many people looking for information about health care reform and information about how to enroll for health coverage. Our team has faced many challenges. Despite the many problems we faced connecting individuals through the website, nothing was more frustrating than talking with individuals and families who fell into the coverage gap—those adults who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid, but for whom there are no options available through the Health Exchange Marketplace. It was so difficult to sit across from someone and hear their story and understand their immense need for healthcare, only to find out that there is not a solution for them until Utah decides whether to take action on this issue.

The individuals and families my team and I encountered who fell in the coverage gap are individuals in great need of healthcare. We encountered students looking for health coverage while they are in school. We spoke to single parents who work and need health security because they have little ones that depend on them. There were many individuals who are very ill and can no longer work because their health has deteriorated, and without access to affordable healthcare, they can’t get better and go back to work. There were many many examples, because unfortunately, the majority of people who came to us fell within this gap.

One of the hardest situations I faced was when I was assisting a family of three. It was a young woman in her early to mid-twenties with two very ill parents. Her mother had a chronic health condition that was barely being cared for through low-cost clinics and prescription assistance. She previously had access to doctors when her husband was working, but then he too became very ill. Because they were both denied social security disability, they did not qualify to receive assistance through Medicaid. Currently in the state of Utah, this family has no options. If there is no Medicaid expansion, this young lady must watch her parents continue to get sick because they can not get the care they need. Right now, their only option is to cross their fingers and hope.

As a 2-1-1 Navigator, my greatest hope is that the healthcare gap is covered, so, if I ever encounter anybody in this situation again, I can let them know that there is help available. They don’t have to remain unemployed because they are too ill to work. They don’t have to cross their fingers and hope for the best — because Utah took action on a solution.

The legislature can take action on this issue by adopting Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan. It is a unique Utah solution to the Medicaid expansion question, and closes the healthcare coverage gap. Email your legislators now to urge them to support the Governor’s Healthy Utah plan!

Email-your-LegislatorsIf you have questions about getting access to healthcare, dial 2-1-1 for answers and information.


Pie in the Face Anyone? Scheels Gets Messy While LIVING UNITED!

Bosworth, Amyby Amy Bosworth
Corporate Relations Director

Have you ever wished you could shove a chocolate cream pie in your boss’s face? Those dreams were recently actualized by Scheels employees at the Draper store in an effort to raise some messy money for United Way of Salt Lake. From supervisors all the way up to the store manager, employees paid top dollar to stick it to their boss, literally.

Lucky for us, while scores were being settled with oozing whipped cream and goo smashed in faces, dollars were flooding in to help UWSL achieve our important goals of ensuring that children and families have the same opportunities to succeed in school and in life. Of course, who wouldn’t want to have fun, get even with your boss, and LIVE UNITED all on the same day?

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Thank you, Scheels management and staff, for being such good sports!

Find Out What it is Like to be a VISTA Volunteer at UWSL!

Pansaby Pansa Lerslerphant
Volunteer Engagement Coordinator | AmeriCorps Vista

While taking a break from school to decide what I want to do with my future and looking for a short-term job that would give me professional work experience, I ran across a one-year volunteer position with AmeriCorps VISTA at United Way of Salt Lake. It was a program I knew next to nothing about, and an organization that I only heard of by name. AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) is the domestic version of the Peace Corps. We provide indirect service by creating and expanding programs support that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. United Way of Salt Lake was a great place to do this service, as it is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve lives and build strong communities by uniting individuals and organizations to solve community problems. IMG_0591One of my most favorite volunteer opportunities as a VISTA volunteer was the Granger Mobile Food Pantry. Once a month at the Food Pantry, volunteers have an opportunity to help set up and distribute food to families and children in the community. On my third time volunteering for the event, one afterschool student looked at me with a smile on his face and said “My mom would be so happy with this food.” That was the moment I realized how important this work is and how wonderful the people we serve are.

DSCN1560Throughout my service year at United Way of Salt Lake, I learned much more than I imagined I would. Not only did I learn about UWSL, the work we do, and how our work helps support our community as a whole — but I’ve also learned a lot about professional development and work experience. I’ve gained a better understanding of the community I work with, the challenges faced by the community, and possible solutions to those challenges. I feel like I have made a difference in the life of at least one person.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to work at UWSL. My experiences here were amazing, enjoyable, and professionally rewarding.

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