Engaging Parents in South Salt Lake!

andrea-coxby Andrea Cox
Director of Destination Graduation

For the past year, a group of local representatives, non-profit organizations, schools, district leaders, and higher education experts, have been meeting together each month to discuss how they can make sure that all students in South Salt Lake graduate high school and go on to college. The strategy this group meets specifically around is parent engagement.

It’s intuitive for most educators that a parent’s role in supporting their child’s education is vital for not only academic success, but success in life. It is difficult to find a parent who does not care deeply about their child’s well-being; however, many families in high-need areas such as South Salt Lake, face barriers that make intentional and consistent parent engagement very challenging. From language and cultural barriers of immigrant and refugees families, to the demands of bills, food, and housing for low-income families, to single-parent parent households — it is difficult for many parents to find time to sit down for a meal with their children, let alone read with them for 15 minutes every day. Therefore, it’s important that whatever action items this group supports will reach all families and parents, no matter their circumstance.


Last week, this group rallied around a specific message they feel will be able to do just that. The consistent message that schools, community organizations, district leaders, and others will reinforce through various outreach is asking parents to ask their student about something they learned that day at school and/or what they are working on.

The message is simple, accessible, and will connect with other important parent engagement tools, such as a demonstrating to their child that they care about their  learning, even if they can’t speak the language or understand the Math homework their student is working on. This message allows parents to follow-up with their student every day and create a “school-going” culture in their home, which will translate into their school work.

If parents, teachers, and community partners can work together around this common message, students will begin to understand that their homes, schools, and communities are connected around their individual academic success and will allow them to gain confidence in their own abilities, as well as understand the value of their education.

This seems like a small step, but the key to this message is to strategize how parents can keep “school” conversations going in their home, even if they work evenings or struggle to pay rent.

Below is a video of a student named Muna, a refugee from Sudan, who talks about how her parent’s example and encouragement has increased her confidence and value in her own education.

Muna's Story Video

 We will continue to work hard to make sure all parents are engaged in their student’s academic success!

And the Award for Best Campaign Theme Goes to…

Tim Harrisonby Tim Harrison
Senior Community Investment Advisor

DISCLAIMER: I made up that award and it doesn’t really exist.

We see many campaign themes from our corporate partners: some touching, some serious, some amusing. However, in my opinion, nothing compares to the heights that Questar Corporate has taken their theme this year.

The premise: You Have the POWER to Change the Odds. We can all be superheroes, even without the power to leap tall buildings in a single bound, as long as we care about our community and invest in ways to make it a better place.

Questar Campaign Logo 2014Questar runs a massive, sprawling campaign, so different groups have taken this in many directions, but all have been creative. My favorites: Chairman, President and CEO Ron Jibson dressing up as Batman, coordinators handing out capes for everyone to wear, and presenters ripping off pressed business shirts to reveal superhero costumes underneath. Check out the slideshow for more hijinks and smiling faces.

Ron_BatmanP082814RV-IMG_9388Thank you Questar, for continuing to set an example of how corporate partners can be creative and have fun while investing in their community.

Guardians of the Galaxies

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Are You Ready for November 4? Get Out and VOTE!

Emilia Comaiby Emilia Comai
Community and Advocacy Engagement Coordinator

Do you know where you will be next Tuesday, November 4? Since it is Election Day, you should be heading to a polling place near you! Voting connects you to your community!

At United Way of Salt Lake, we work to advance the education, income, and health of our neighborhoods and communities. We cannot accomplish this goal if we do not share our voice with our state’s elected officials. The first step to sharing your voice is casting a vote. Why wait until Tuesday? Did you know there are places to vote early in your county? Get it out of the way today and GO VOTE!

Check out vote.utah.gov to find out what will be on the ballot. Who is running? What issues are being debated? There are a number of elected city offices to vote on, as well as local questions! You can get a head-start on voting when you read through the ballot before you get to your polling location!

Go Vote!


For Election Day, it is important to know these three things:

  • Know what is on the ballot!
    • Check out a sample ballot, understand what is on it! Then find your polling place address and hours of operation — and go vote!
  • Take Action!
    • Tell others to get to the polls! Once you’ve voted, change your Facebook profile picture to share with everyone that you either sent in your ballot or went to the polls! Tweet it! Instagram it!


Voting is one of the best ways to show that you LIVE UNITED!

Rocky Mountain Power Takes Time to Change the Odds for Kids at Woodrow Wilson!

by Candace Turner
Rocky Mountain Power


Every year, Rocky Mountain Power employees volunteer for United Way of Salt Lake’s Day of Caring. This year 20 of our employees had the opportunity to volunteer at Woodrow Wilson Elementary. We were able help with math tutoring, reading, and most importantly — a couple of very exciting games of kick ball!

We were placed with Mrs. Holmstead’s class and were able to sit down in small groups and get to know each other. The task was to help the students work on communication skills. We were so moved by the personal experiences that the students shared with us in the short amount of time. Many have faced such adversity in their young lives and still had so much joy and happiness — they truly inspired each of us. We had a wonderful day with these amazing kids and didn’t want it to end.

DSC_4045A few weeks later we received a package with thank you cards from the students. We were so moved by the messages written that we decided that we needed to MAKE THE TIME to do more! We went through the simple process of setting up a weekly volunteer slot every Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Now, we look forward to Monday more than ever!

IMG_6902THANK YOU, United Way of Salt lake,
for making this possible and enriching OUR lives!!

Last Chance to RSVP for Power of Your Purse!

Chelsea Nelsonby Chelsea Nelson
Digital Marketing Director

The big day is coming up on October 30! You won’t want to miss one of the biggest and most inspirational galas of the year – Power of Your Purse!

Last chance to RSVP!


powerofyourpurse-web-headerPower of Your Purse is a wonderful and inspiring event, hosted by UWSL’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC). WLC focuses its efforts on Women for Educational Achievement, which helps young girls and women reach their potential through education. Power of Your Purse brings together the collective power and wisdom of women to inspire everyone to become engaged and help young girls in our community finish high school and post-secondary education. Learn how YOU can take a leading role in this effort! Be inspired by the stories of young women in our community who are overcoming incredible odds to achieve success in school and in life.

Power of Your Purse
Date: Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time: 6:00 p.m. – Reception | 7:00 p.m. Dinner and Program

Location: The Grand America Hotel | Imperial Ballroom | 555 S Main Street


885896_525562594256122_42146792091859826_oThis year, our keynote speaker will be Jane Pauley. A familiar face on morning, daytime, and primetime television, Jane Pauley has been one of the most respected figures in American broadcast journalism for more than thirty years. Pauley has written two New York Times bestsellers: a memoir, Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue (2004) and Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life (2014).

Not only is this an inspiring event, it is a fun one!
We will be giving away some outstanding prizes this year.
You can find the full list of prizes below – you won’t want to miss it!

POYP Prizes 2014

It isn’t too late to RSVP! We hope to see you there.


Working to Improve Early Learning with Refugee Families

chris-ellisby Chris Ellis
Director of Early Learning

As we work with our partners to increase access to quality early childhood education programs, one challenge we encounter is connecting with refugee families. Last year, this challenge resulted in a low number of refugee children attending a high-quality early learning program. This year, our goal was to develop a strategy that would allow us to more genuinely establish connections with refugee families and communicate the importance of early childhood education, ultimately getting more children enrolled in high-quality early learning programs.

A key component of this year’s strategy was hiring three Early Learning Navigators at organizations that support refugee families: Asian Association of Utah, Catholic Community Services, and International Rescue Committee. The Early Learning Navigators were hired to address two chief barriers that refugee families face when enrolling their children in high-quality early childhood programs. First, lack of information that they can readily understand and second, lack of familiarity and trust with the individual delivering the message.

The Early Learning Navigators were hired because they already had close relationships with refugee families and two of them are refugees themselves. This connection allowed them to understand the barriers refugee families face when enrolling children into these programs. To strengthen these families’ understanding of the importance of early childhood education, the Early Learning Navigators conduct home visits, host outreach events, and visit the schools where preschool programs occur. This multi-faceted approach gives refugee families the opportunity to discuss the program with their peers, see the program in action, and better understand the importance of early childhood education. Since this summer, these individuals have been working directly with families and have experienced tremendous results!

Early Learning Navigators have enrolled more than 50 refugee children in high-quality preschool and have met with several other families to discuss the importance of early childhood education. Navigators have excelled at and enjoyed developing relationships with families and providing this much needed support.

We are grateful for the Early Learning Navigators and their commitment to supporting refugee families. They provide a great example of what it means to LIVE UNITED!


Partnering to Empower Parents – Collective Impact in Action!

by Elizabeth McAninch
English Skills Learning Center
Empowering Parents Coordinator

The mission at the English Skills Learning Center and it’s Empowering Parents program aims to help parents of school-aged children, by providing the language tools necessary for integration and success in the United States school system.

This mission would not be possible without our partners in the community, including our elementary schools. While the partnership between the English Skills Learning Center and Oquirrh Hills Elementary School, a United Way of Salt Lake Neighborhood Center located in Kearns, is fairly new — over the past year, it has become a model for a thriving, student-centered cooperation, that aims to further the shared goals of United Way of Salt Lake’s Collective Impact work, as well as empower parents learning a new language and culture.

OH EP October 2014 2

Last school year, we were able to reach out to parents of children at Oquirrh Hills and other community members, and offer free English classes with 10-15 students attending twice a week. These students engaged in lessons that discussed a wide variety of subjects such as report cards, parent-teacher conferences, attendance, and an array of other topics. Some students are back for their second year in the 2014/2015 school year, with a fierce determination to give their children the best chance of success in school as possible!

Student engagement, retention, and success would not be as strong without the partnership that has emerged between the two organizations and we hope to continue to engage parents in significant and relevant learning for years to come! 

Oquirrh Hills EP October 2014