Collective Impact on a National Level – StriveTogether!

Billby Bill Crim
CEO

In March, United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL) became an official member of StriveTogether, a national collective impact initiative which now includes 63 community partnerships from 32 states and Washington, D.C — all working to connect cross-sector leaders to improve education outcome for kids. This connects UWSL to more than 9,450 organizations to impact more than 5.9 million students as a member of this StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network.

As part of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, UWSL has access to resources and tools designed to help communities implement StriveTogether’s nationally recognized cradle to career collective impact approach, known as the Theory of Action. UWSL now also has a connection with communities across the country to share knowledge and learn from successes, failures, and insights as each community works to align resources around improving education outcomes.

“Across the country, Network members are improving student-level outcomes through StriveTogether’s collective impact method,” StriveTogether Managing Director Jeff Edmondson said. “Each of these communities, and the Network as a whole, are committed to putting the child at the center of their work. We are excited to welcome United Way of Salt Lake’s Promise Partnership to the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network.”

STRIVE NetworkTo join the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, UWSL met a set of quality benchmarks that indicate it has engaged a cross-sector group around a common education vision. UWSL also demonstrated its ability to support the creation of a sustainable infrastructure to drive change, and committed to being accountable for improving an identified set of academic outcomes.

Space Monsters, Spiders, and Selflessness

IMG_3933David Bean
TD Williamson, Technical Director of Data Architecture 
Guest Blogger

When I was 15, my dad took me to see Alien, the movie. It was a milestone for me for two reasons.  One, it was my first R rated movie, and two, it instilled in me a fear of space monsters that still exists today. While I generally don’t run into acid-for-blood aliens, I do occasionally encounter spiders, my other deep-seated fear.

Upon being surprised by an arachnid, I approach coronary failure, but this is nothing compared to what happens to a coworker, who we’ll call Stacie. Stacie experiences apoplectic panic. She becomes completely unhinged…for hours. If ‘freak out’ becomes a clinical description, she’ll own it. The only thing she can do is go home to calm down. Her day is over.

Some time last year, one of our coworkers sent an email around that included a picture of pure 8-legged villainy. When I opened it, my eyes got big, I couldn’t talk, my pulse rate went through the roof, but neither my heart nor brain exploded. I collected myself, and then I thought about Stacie. She was on the distribution list! I sprinted down the hallway to her office, barged in and yelled, “Back away from the computer right NOW!” Squinting at me as you might any deranged co-worker, she cautiously rolled her chair away from her desk. Disaster averted. “Stacie, there’s an email in your inbox you really don’t want to see. Delete it now. Do not open it.” Her eyes softened with understanding. Stacie was grateful, and I felt downright chivalrous.

What does any of this have to do with the United Way of Salt Lake?

Well, I’m the chair of TDW’s United Way campaign this year, and my experience with Stacie reminds me what our co-workers do when they contribute – they think about someone else. I was proud of my selflessness after the Infamous Spider Email Incident of 2014, but in talking to coworkers about their United Way contributions, I realized that I’m a small fish in a big pond. Take this comment from one of our people:

I lived overseas for 17 years in Africa and India. I’ve seen the worst of poverty and was unable to help everyone there so I helped no one. As an ex-hippie with a Christian heart, I feel a duty to help my fellow community members. I have more than enough, it is only right to give a little back. It makes for good karma and United Way of Salt Lake spreads it around.

I’ve always liked this guy, perhaps because he’d sell me his season tickets to Utah football games, but now I want to grow up to be just like him. He even signed this note back to me with “Peace & Love.” Groovy, man.

TD Williamson

Here’s another one that resonated:

For me, I love United Way’s effort toward helping children. As a mother, I want to make sure my child has a proper education, doesn’t go hungry, and has every opportunity to be their best. I know there are children who don’t have access to the same opportunities. It tugs on your heart strings to think of a child in your own community who might go hungry, be worried about shelter, isn’t supported in their education, etc.

It would be natural for a mother to focus entirely on her own children, but this one spreads her love and support well beyond her family.

There are many more comments like these, and they’ve taught me that selflessness is a way of life at TDW. It begins with the TDWilliamson family who owns the company (and matches our contributions dollar-for-dollar), and it extends to the generosity of its most unassuming employees.

I’d like to say I emulate that behavior, but the best I could come up with was rescuing Stacie from a picture of a spider.**

*It’s still a bastion of pure vile and evilness, and I’m still a hero for saving her. At least in my own mind.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility – Why it Matters

amy-bosworthby Amy Bosworth
Corporate Relations Director

Recently, I met with an executive of a company to discuss ways to engage its employees in the work of United Way of Salt Lake. After explaining our Collective Impact model and some of the impressive accomplishments that have occurred because of working this way, the executive turned to me and asked, “Why should I care and what do you REALLY want from us?” It was an interesting question, and one that gave me pause.

There are many responses to that question that immediately came to mind; ‘because system-wide change doesn’t happen alone; because a vibrant education experience for children leads to a vibrant, qualified workforce later; because we can address the root of issues now or work through corrections later;’ and the list goes on.

Why business leaders should care:

With all of the very strong and worthy reasons detailed above aside, what this executive needed to hear was that his company would be changed for the better by aligning with United Way of Salt Lake and by utilizing our services to create a Corporate Social Responsibility Program (CSR program). There are certain truths around CSR programs that business leaders should consider as an incentive to positively enhancing a company or corporation. These truths include:

  • Attracting the right people to work for you: Recruiting top-performing employees and keeping them happy is a priority of all thriving corporations.  Charitable giving improves employee engagement by boosting productivity, ethical behavior, gratitude to the organization, and pride in their work.
  • Helping people feel good while working at the same time: With employees more engaged in their work and more pleased with the corporate culture, their morale will naturally be higher.  This leads to less time and productivity lost to “illness”, tardiness, or extended breaks and lunches, as well as lower turnover rates.
  • Meaning it when you use the word “team”: This generally positive attitude in the workplace extends beyond just the rank-and-file employees. When a corporate giving program brings together people from all levels of the organization – from the C-level to the mail room – everyone feels like they are working together toward a common goal. This feeling of effective teamwork will extend beyond the CSR program to positively influence other aspects of their work.

*Reference: Frontstream Blog: http://www.frontstream.com/why-charitable-giving-is-important-to-businesses/

As for what we, United Way of Salt Lake, REALLY want?

Well, the answer to that question is complex and requires businesses, nonprofits, government organizations, school districts, religious affiliations, community stakeholders and caring individuals to join us!

We want to fulfill our promise, that every child and family, regardless of their circumstances, has the same opportunity to succeed in school and in life. We invite companies and corporations to join us as we work to change the odds for kids and families in our most at-risk neighborhoods. Simply put, we can’t do it alone.

To learn how to align your business to create a more energized and committed workforce, contact Amy Bosworth, amyb@uw.org.

Savage LIVE UNITED Volunteers

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Volunteer

Community Leaders Commit to Powerful Action!

bouchard-markby Mark Bouchard
Senior Managing Director
CB Richard Ellis
Chair, Promise Partnership Regional Council

June 10 marked the quarterly meeting of the Promise Partnership Regional Council. The PPRC members lead K-12 systems, community organizations, business, and government agencies that play key roles in our ability to change the odds for all of the children and families in our Promise Partnership region.

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At the meeting, which was hosted in the beautiful Center for Arts and Media at Salt Lake Community College’s South City Campus, 33 participants chose one of the PPRC’s seven results to work on: kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading, 8th grade math, college readiness, college completion, health access, and financial stability. With our Baseline Report as a resource, we worked in small groups to begin to set regional targets and to refine our indicators related to health and financial stability. We left having made commitments for ourselves and for our organizations that will accelerate progress toward our seven bold results.

For example, the businesses, government, and community organizations, as well as colleges, universities, and school districts in the group who focused on coordinating efforts so that all students access and complete college, agreed that our four School Districts would meet to identify one or more target goals around college completion. They also agreed to revisit the ways in which we measure college access and completion.

The PPRC members who chose to discuss helping all children and families be financially stable first agreed that school mobility is crucial (which is the current focus of our collaborative work to help families achieve financially stability). Recognizing that poverty’s ubiquity throughout our communities and region creates conditions that make it hard to achieve academic success or optimal health, they agreed that we need also to align efforts to help families in the areas of housing, jobs, saving and asset development, and volunteered to coordinate our resources to impact indicators related to those areas. Several of the participants agreed to share data in order to better understand opportunities in the region. They also agreed to meet again, to decide the optimal setting to coordinate resources and programs related to housing, jobs, and saving and asset development.

As the co-chair of the Promise Partnership Regional Council, I want to thank our members (and the dozens of individuals who work for their agencies and carry out the PPRC’s vision) for caring about each and every child in our region, for embracing our six bold goals, for working together differently, and for embracing the complexity that comes with aligning strategies, staff, and resources in innovative ways. The PPRC gives me hope — hope that we can fulfill on our promise to change the odds for every child and hope for a better Utah.

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“It’s No Mystery” Why We Support United Way of Salt Lake!

Megan Richardsby Megan Richards
Community Investment Advisor

If you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.”

I think about this phrase every day as I go out into the community, telling people about the game-changing work we are doing, and asking my audience to consider donating to United Way of Salt Lake. This last month I have seen the entire staff at UWSL “walk the walk” by giving generously during our internal workplace campaign!

The theme of our campaign was “It’s No Mystery Why We Support United Way,” and we had a lot of fun with this detective-inspired genre. We worked together to solve the mystery of who “changed the odds” with the heads of each of our departments as the main “suspects”. We went on site visits to our community schools to inspect the “scenes” of where change happened, and we listened to presentations about the “tools” used to change the odds.Guadalupe TourWhile we were having fun and learning more details about the work going on in our community, we were able to demonstrate how we all believe in, and personally support, the work of United Way of Salt Lake. 100 percent of our staff participated in our giving campaign, resulting in over $1000 donated per capita! It is truly a privilege to work with such a charitable and dedicated group of people, and so I want to say thank you to my colleagues who remind me daily why I “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.”

IMG_1857Thank you for laughing loudly, giving generously, and LIVING UNITED.

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Being a Part of Collective Impact!

allison-tby Allison Temnick
Community Investment Advisor

Like many college graduates, a few years ago I found myself at a crossroads. I had received a business degree but I always had a desire to work for a nonprofit organization. I was torn between the corporate world, the nonprofit sector, and option to spend some time traveling the world. This fork in the road forced me to evaluate my options and prioritize what mattered most to me. The underlying question that I faced was: how can I live and work in the most fulfilling way? Thankfully, only a few short years after graduation, I have found myself at United Way of Salt Lake—a place where my career ambitions and desire to serve intersect.

United Way of Salt Lake’s staff and mission are a wonderful for several reasons. First of all, I am surrounded by people each day who challenge me to be a better person both personally and professionally. Second, I have had the opportunity to join a Donor Network called Young Leaders where I can meet and volunteer alongside people who have similar interests and passions. My co-workers and fellow Young Leaders have enhanced my life and work experience tremendously since I started this job back in August. But besides being personally fulfilled, working at UWSL has allowed me to use my resources and talents to be a part of something much bigger than me—something the folks at United Way of Salt Lake call Collective Impact.

_MG_5667Collective Impact operates under the assumption that no one person, company, or nonprofit organization can solve complex social problems. If each one of us contributes our unique skills and gifts to help make our community a better place we can finally see the change that we have talked about for so long. The best part of this Collective Impact model is that it’s working! Since UWSL started working in line with the Collective Impact model in 2011, we have seen at 9 percent increase in 3rd grade reading across all of our Promise Partnerships. One of our Community Schools, Granite Park Junior High, now has 52 percent of 9th graders on track to graduate (a 27 percent increase from just two years ago). And in just this past year alone, 8,334 volunteers contributed 30,022 hours of service and bettered the lives of 294,000 students and families. What an incredible achievement!

IMG_4887I am proud to be a part of Collective Impact work with United Way of Salt Lake. I truly believe my involvement with UWSL has allowed me to live a more satisfying, fulfilling life. If you’re reading this, I would encourage you to GIVE, ADVOCATE, or VOLUNTEER!

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The Raising of America – Reinforcing Local Efforts!

chris-ellisby Chris Ellis
Partnership Director, Early Learning Outcomes

As we continue our work to improve outcomes for the youngest children in our communities, we have been inspired by a new documentary, The Raising of America. This five-part documentary discusses many of the issues that impact young children and their families nationally, but also locally, in the Salt Lake City area. Recently, I was invited to attend the first public screening of the first episode of the documentary and participate on a panel with early childhood leaders from Utah to discuss how the film applies to our local work.

The first episode of the documentary, Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation, highlights the disparity in well-being for young children in the United States compared to other countries in the world. United Way of Salt Lake has developed a Collaborative Action Network, a group of partners committed to working together to improve outcomes for all children and families in our State, focused on early childhood education to address this disparity in our communities. In numerous discussions, these partners have recognized the importance of addressing the holistic needs of young children and their families, a point that the documentary emphasizes in great detail. This documentary reinforces our local efforts, and the public screening provided an opportunity to share this work with interested individuals.

Raising AmericaNearly 80 individuals attended this event to view the first part of the documentary and participate in a spirited discussion. These individuals represented various organizations and perspectives and greatly added to the dialogue. All participants were excited to apply the learnings from the documentary and the panel discussion to their work with young children and their families. This documentary is a moving commentary on the state of early childhood in our country and will lead to many important conversations as we work together to improve early childhood outcomes in our State.

We invite you all to watch!

The Raising of America