Exciting News: Daniels Fund Announces $5 Million Investment in UWSL

jerilyn-stoweby Jerilyn Stowe
VP of Marketing and Communications

Today, United Way of Salt Lake held its annual Funders Summit event, where our community’s foremost philanthropists and leaders came together to talk about how Collective Impact work is changing the odds for kids and families in our community. This year, we were excited to share a big announcement!

Daniels Fund announced a $5 million investment in Untied Way of Salt Lake to bolster support and expansion of community schools and Collective Impact work. Kristin Todd, Senior Vice President of Daniels Fund, took a few moments to speak about why Daniels Fund believes in the work that UWSL is doing.

IMG_8226“The more we have learned about United Way of Salt Lake’s intentional Collective Impact work at community schools, we have been increasingly impressed with the meaningful work they are doing to truly change lives and communities. We are thrilled to be part of this incredible effort and look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting even further engaged”.

IMG_8233-1This incredible investment from the Daniels Fund will have a major impact on the neighborhoods and schools where we work. Specifically, $5 million will help boost student outcomes by supporting academic programs and services at United Way of Salt Lake community schools and provide funding to expand programs and develop additional community schools.

IMG_8148We are grateful to Daniels Fund for its commitment to our community, for LIVING UNITED, and helping UWSL continue to do such important work in our neighborhoods and communities.



Harvard Business School Learns About Collective Impact from UWSL!

by Ann Lombard
Harvard Business School Research Associate

Professor Allen Grossman and I had the pleasure of visiting United Way of Salt Lake to observe Collective Impact in action. Our interest in this approach to community change stems from HBS’ U.S. Competitiveness Project, a multi-year, research-led effort to understand and improve the competitiveness of the United States.

Leaders from all parts of our society agree that a high-functioning public education system is critical for providing the needed workers for America’s future competitiveness. The particular focus of the project that brought us to UWSL, is the role the business community can play to improve public education.

Our research led us to three ways that the business community can most effectively partner with education leaders to bring about deep and lasting change in public education:

  • Laying the policy foundations for education
  • Scaling up proven innovations that boost student outcomes
  • Reinventing the local education ecosystem in cities and regions

As an approach to reinventing the local education ecosystem, we are particularly excited about the transformational potential of Collective Impact and visited Salt Lake City to learn more about the work going on there.

DSCN1586We were not disappointed! We saw the product of United Way of Salt Lake’s data-driven, aligned community Promise Partnerships. We learned how educators work with multiple stakeholders to identify student needs that fall outside of what a school traditionally provides, but that can impact students’ ability to learn – adequate dental and vision care, for example. We heard from multiple stakeholders about how these efforts are helping school leaders achieve their mission of improving outcomes for students.

While we can not capture in this short blog post all that we learned from our visit, we were most excited to observe, first-hand, Collective Impact work implemented so effectively. We left more confident than ever of Collective Impact’s potential for community change and deeply appreciated the essential role of United Way of Salt Lake as the backbone organization.

Thank you for your gracious hosting of our visit and for the work you are doing to change the lives of people in your community!


Hard Questions for GE Healthcare!

Megan Richardsby Megan Richards
Community Investment Advisor

When working with community-engaged companies like GE Healthcare, you are bound to meet some truly amazing individuals. I met two such individuals, Viraj Shah and Gene Buhler, through GE Healthcare’s Day of Caring project at Kearns High School.

Viraj Shah is a Project Manager for GE Healthcare. During Day of Caring, Viraj coordinated all the indoor projects that happened at Kearns High, from a morning assembly for over 400 students, to individual curricula for 20 classes throughout the day. Gene Buhler is the Human Resource Manager and he worked directly with students all day helping them explore physics concepts through catapult experiments.

I recently had a chance to talk to both Viraj and Gene about their experience during Day of Caring and their motivations for giving back.

Q: Why did you want to be a part of Day of Caring?

Viraj: Kearns currently has a 68 percent graduation rate (compared to 81 percent statewide), and GE wants to see a long-lasting impact. By working with the students in the classrooms and sharing about our education and career paths, we can help create a vision for these students and help them to see their future after high school and going on to higher education.   

Q: Do any particular stories from Day of Caring stand out in your memory?

I was helping students build catapults for a physics experiment. There was one particular girl who created one of the most successful catapults. She was very good at examining problems and trying new solutions. Every time it worked, her eyes would light up and she would get so excited. I got to see her “aha” moment. At the end of class she expressed her desire to learn more about engineering. That’s the thing about giving back – it gives more to you than you probably give. It’s a powerful thing.

Q: What words of encouragement would you give to others interested in getting involved in their communities?

Those who could not be involved in Day of Caring should consider visiting a community school to see what you can do on a smaller level.
GE Healthcare highlights the importance of encouraging girls to participate in science, math, and higher education. If we can encourage these girls early in their education, we can impact their futures.

If you did not have a chance to volunteer during Day of Caring or would like to get involved in classroom or holiday volunteer opportunities, please visit  http://www.uw.org/volunteer/ to learn more and sign up.

Thank you Viraj, Gene, and the entire GE Healthcare community for donating your time, resources, and voices to help change the odds for local youth!

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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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Guadalupe School Opens Doors at New Rose Park Location

by Elysia Alvarado Yuen
Development Assistant, Guadalupe School

It’s been an exciting time for Guadalupe School, a United Way of Salt Lake Community School. On August 28, 2014 after nearly 15 years of planning, fundraising, and building, we finally opened our doors with an official ribbon cutting ceremony at the Janet Q. Lawson Campus. Community leaders spoke about the impact of education on the community and afterwards refreshments and tours were given to all in attendance. With this new building, we are now able to extend our reach, increase the number of students served, and centralize staff and programs.


Guadalupe SchoolWithout the support of various community leaders, Guadalupe School would have never been able to grow from a small group of immigrants learning English in a café, to a brand new school with five programs which starting the educational outreach at birth.

It has been, and continues to be, the collective effort of our supporters and partners that allows Guadalupe School to continue its mission to teach economically disadvantaged children and non-English speaking adults, the vision and skills needed to live productive, rewarding lives. We are so grateful for everyone who has, and continues to support our mission, and we look forward to serving many more students in this new and beautiful building!

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Savage Changes the Odds and Volunteers Over 200 Hours!

Tim Harrisonby Tim Harrison
Senior Community Investment Advisor

This last spring and summer, Savage Companies fulfilled a pledge to send more than a dozen volunteers per week from its staff to tutor 9th graders who are recovering lost academic credit that they needed in order to graduate high school. Savage employees helped address a common problem among at-risk populations: that many 9th grade junior high students don’t realize how crucial grades are for highschool graduation. They get off track and stay behind, especially in math.

Fast forward through fourth quarter and the “summer session;” we can now attribute some remarkable results to these stellar Savage volunteers. The kids have regained lost academic credits and many kids are right back on track to graduate, which will completely alter their educational (and professional) careers. This will help our community in the long run—that’s Collective Impact at work! Listen to Jermaine Coston, a Savage Volunteer and Granite Park alum, about the experience:

“In just a few weeks, I began to see significant changes in the students. Not just in their academics, but also in their confidence. Knowing that someone was there for them made a huge impact.
By the end of the summer, the students were talking about their futures and careers. Even the students who were still not quite up to par were now more motivated and confident. Having someone there working with them one-on-one and encouraging them made a huge difference. Thank you for this rewarding experience, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!”

—Jermaine Coston , Savage

Thanks to all the Savage donors, advocates, and volunteers! This community is lucky to have your ongoing support. We’ll see you on Day of Caring!

Check out this awesome infographic detailing the difference Savage made for these kids!



How Collective Impact Can Change the Odds – A Personal Story

rokich-stephanieby Stephanie Rokich
Director of Elementary Learning

Here at United Way of Salt Lake, we know that no organization alone can solve complex community problems. We talk a lot about how we work as a backbone organization to bring together partners, organizations, cities, schools, and others to provide cross-sector supports and common agenda. This type of work truly helps to create community-level change. I want to tell you a story that demonstrates why we here at United Way of Salt Lake are so invested in making Collective Impact work in our Promise Partnerships.

I mentored a teenage girl, Maria, for three years. Like many of the kids at the schools where UWSL works, Maria faced a mountain of barriers to her success. She grew up in a single parent home, and her older sister had gotten pregnant at 17 and dropped out of high school. She had spent a few years in Mexico and, as a result, wasn’t on grade-level with English. She was chronically absent from school, and her mom feared that she was involved with drugs.

The barriers were numerous, but I had high hopes for Maria. She was a kind, funny girl who loved dogs and always told me thank you when we hung out. As anyone who has volunteered to mentor a child may agree, I had big aspirations for Maria. I tried to get her on-track in school by helping with homework and encouraging her to attend every day. I got to know her interests, which included animals and science, and tailored activities around those interests. I emphasized that school was the key to making her dreams come true. In one word, I was a bit naive.

Near the three-year mark of our friendship, I could feel the end coming. I would call Maria to schedule an activity, and her phone would be disconnected. I would go to pick her up, and she wouldn’t be there. I realized that Maria was now a 16-year-old young woman, and hanging out with her mentor, who was 10 years older, wasn’t exactly “cool” anymore. I wasn’t upset because I understood where she was coming from, but I was worried about her. Maria always said she did well at school, but the story from her mom was different. She also told me that she occasionally went to parties with 21-year-olds, a revelation that was hard for me to hear. My big dreams for helping her succeed in life had been flattened by harsh reality.

A few months after we officially “closed” our mentoring relationship, I called Maria‘s mom to see how Maria was doing. The news wasn’t good. Maria had been kicked out of one high school for being chronically absent and then essentially dropped out of school at 16. I was completely heartbroken. How had this happened, largely under my watch? I couldn’t believe it.

Maria‘s seemingly hopeless story gets to the heart of why Collective Impact is such a powerful and necessary way to help kids. One program alone, no matter how great it is, is rarely enough to turn a kid’s life around when they grow up in the complicated world of poverty. Complicated issues require an “all-in” approach. For an example of that, here’s another brief story.

Although my experience with Maria didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I was determined to recommit myself to another young person who wanted a mentor. For the past year, I have mentored Pramila. Pramila’s story isn’t that different from Maria’s, except that Pramila and her family are refugees from Nepal. They live in poverty, just like Maria. Pramila was behind in English, having just arrived in the U.S. about four years ago. Even with a heap of barriers, Pramila and her family are doing well, and she is thriving in school. The key difference is Collective Impact.


Pramila and her family receive and take part in targeted, high-quality supports. A local refugee resettlement agency helped her parents and older brother find jobs. Her mom takes free English classes at a nearby school so that she can learn how to navigate various systems, as well as support her children academically. Pramila and her sister attend an afterschool program through the Asian Association of Utah, which combines academics and enriching activities. Her school has a lot of targeted interventions for English Language Learners, and she is involved in college-prep classes like AVID. She has a mentor (me!) through Big Brothers Big Sisters. The family’s basic needs are met with various wraparound services. In essence, Pramila and her family have the entire community’s support to ensure that she and her siblings graduate from high school, obtain a post-secondary degree, and become self-sustaining adults. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for them to navigate a new country and school system without Collective Impact and dozens of community partners helping along the way. This is Collective Impact at its best. Our hope at United Way of Salt Lake is that ALL kids, regardless of their circumstances, are successful!

For me, I want to make sure that kids like Maria, who didn’t have the supports she needed to be successful, don’t fall through the cracks!