White House Hosts Pay for Success Summit in Salt Lake City

chris-ellisby Chris Ellis
Director of Early Learning

Last week, the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, in partnership with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Nonprofit Finance Fund, hosted a Pay for Success Summit in Salt Lake City for the Western region of the United States. This Summit was intended to highlight and advance regional activity and build long-term Pay for Success infrastructure to catalyze the development of future projects.

Salt Lake City was a fitting location for this Summit, as it is the home of the first Pay for Success deal in the world to support early childhood education. United Way of Salt Lake worked closely with numerous organizations to implement this project, including, Granite School District’s Preschool Program, Park City School District, Salt Lake County, Voices for Utah Children, Utah State University, Goldman Sachs, and J.B. Pritzker. Now in its second year, the Utah High-quality Preschool Program has provided access to high quality preschool to nearly 1,000 low-income children in Utah. Participants at the Summit were able to learn more about this particular deal and discuss other projects that are being considered to support outcomes for children and families in other communities. Throughout the day, organizations announced funding opportunities for participants to increase their knowledge about Pay for Success and their capacity to utilize this innovative strategy.

Photo c/o @NFFSocialImpact

Photo c/o @NFFSocialImpact

As an attendee, I was able to network with other individuals from around the country who are pursuing Pay for Success as a funding strategy to support social services in their communities and learn more about the developments in this field. Attendees were either implementing or considering deals to support programs that are working to lower rates of recidivism, reduce homelessness, improve public health, and expand access to early childhood education. It is exciting to see the enthusiasm and interest around this approach, as it can be a valuable component of a strategy to achieve community level results in communities throughout the country.

I look forward to seeing the impact that Pay for Success can have on addressing the needs in our respective communities. The Utah High-quality Preschool Program has clearly helped local children, and Pay for Success can surely be used to improve outcomes for children and families around the country.

Photo c/o @Rep. Greg Hughes

Photo c/o @Rep. Greg Hughes

What is the Difference Between Collaboration and Collective Impact?

LoriBays-HHSA-4x5by Lori Bays
Human Services Department Director, Salt Lake County
Guest Blogger

On January 8th, United Way and Salt Lake County jointly sponsored an event presented by StriveTogether, whom I call the gurus of Collective Impact. The event focused on the continuous improvement model and its application within Collaborative Action Networks. Participants included United Way of Salt Lake and County staff, as well as school district personnel.

What began with a very general overview of the difference between collaboration and Collective Impact, quickly became a very in-depth lesson in continuous improvement conditions and methodologies which definitely caused us to stretch our thinking and reminded us of how critical it is to remain hyper-focused on outcomes.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 4.05.37 PMIn fact, that was one of the biggest take-a-ways from the day, from my perspective…FOCUS! Focus on the major priorities and keep moving forward. Don’t get distracted by the “squirrels” (think of the dog in the movie “Up”); there are no silver bullets.

We learned the importance of following the methodology and gained a new (at least to me) tool, the A-3. It also reiterated the importance of staying on track, sticking with the steps, and asking the right questions to get to the answer you need.

The A-3 was also used to remind us of the PDSA (Plan, Do, Study Act) tool, which is simple enough to use in any setting. In fact, it is even used in schools to help students achieve their academic and personal goals.

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Our afternoon was spent doing a deep-dive into each of our fields using the A-3 and let me tell you, it was harder than I thought it would be. Our team stuck with it, though, and we were able to use it effectively to think through our outcome. At the end of the day, we had a plan in place and had learned a technique that will be useful for years to come. A huge thank you to United Way of Salt Lake and StriveTogether for this great event!

 

American Express Brings “Uncontrollable Excitement” to Granger Elementary!

Dennis Huynhby Dennis Huynh
Community Investment Advisor

As 130 students in the Granger Elementary afterschool program finished up their activities, they headed into the cafeteria to wrap up the evening. What was a quiet room just moments prior, started buzzing with uncontrollable excitement. When the students entered the cafeteria, they could see mounds of gifts awaiting them……….DSC_0511

On December 16, a group of 19 volunteers from American Express went to Granger Elementary to help students in the afterschool program learn how different cultures celebrate the holiday season. The volunteers rotated with the children between three groups where they decorated cookies, created beaded necklaces, and learned about Chanukah by playing the dreidel game.

DSC_0429At Granger Elementary Community School, a United Way of Salt Lake Neighborhood Center, 81 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The holiday season is especially rough for the kids and their families. Some of these students, when asked what they wanted for Christmas, replied with socks, pillows, blankets, and other clothing. Not the usual toys and games that you would see being requested by elementary students. One student even asked for shoes and a blanket for his parents.

DSC_0469These volunteers took time out of their busy days to help these students learn about different holiday traditions and had a lot of fun doing so. And, they saved the best for last. American Express had generously purchased gifts for all of the students! The amount of joy on the students’ faces was immeasurable. Thank you so much American Express for being such a bright light during the holidays and for showing everyone how to LIVE UNITED.

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Dan Heath Inspires Promise Partners!

andrea-coxby Andrea Cox
Director of Destination Graduation

Last week, United Way of Salt Lake partners gathered to hear Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times Bestseller, Switch, discuss the components needed to effect large scale social change. Partners also heard updates about ongoing Collective Impact work and had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions on topics such as Behavioral Health for Students and Families, Elementary Literacy, Kindergarten Readiness through Pre-School, and Closing Utah’s Skills Gap.

Dan Heath presented on several key ideas including: “rider vs. the elephant,” change is difficult but not impossible, and to expect to fail – but fail forward. He explains that when you’re contemplating change, the “elephant” is the passion and emotion that bring people to the table — it is the motivator to push through the “weeds” of the process. Likewise, the “rider” provides that process and direction. Both are necessary for change!

_MG_8181“It was a really great presentation for me because I’ve been trying to implement a lot of the strategies he discusses,” said Chris Ellis, United Way Director of Early Learning, “and I attempted to demonstrate that in my breakout session afterwards.”

“A lot of participants in my breakout session brought up Dan Heath in our discussion about Elementary Literacy, which was really cool to hear,” said Stephanie Rokich, Director of Elementary Learning.

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During the “Closing the Skills Gap” breakout session, Karen Gunn from Salt Lake Community College, talked about how timely and useful the presentation with Dan Heath was, as members of her own staff have been implementing his suggested strategies for change over the past three years. The discussion turned to how the individuals in the room could work together to make sure all “opportunity youth,” ages 15-25 who are unemployed and/or not enrolled in some sort of certificate or degree program, could be identified and supported towards enrollment and job placement. This conversation is a vital piece to supporting the Governor’s 66% by 2020 goal and we look forward to continuing to shape the path in partnership with Salt Lake Community College and others.

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The fourth breakout session on Behavioral Health for Students and Families brought professionals into the room to discuss family stability and how to “motivate the elephant” toward large scale access to vital resources. “The event was a nice springboard for this discussion and I’m excited moving forward,” said Caroline Moreno, Director of Health and Income.

We look forward to continuing to bring government agencies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and schools together to continue this important work and “motivate the elephant” to long-lasting, widespread change.

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Exciting News: the 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!

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

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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?

Gene:
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?

Viraj:
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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