Sabor de Kearns Brings the Community Together!

Stephanie Lintonby Stephanie Linton
Oquirrh Hills Elementary Community School Director

“On January 7, 2016 we held Sabor de Kearns, our first lunch & learn event, which was a great success!” writes Heather Fuller, Family and Community Outreach Coordinator with the Oquirrh Hills Elementary Family Center.

KearnsThe idea for Sabor de Kearns was a collaboration between Oquirrh Hills Elementary, Kearns Junior High, Kearns Public Library and other service providers in the Kearns area. Because the proximity of these programs are so close to one another, and because these programs serve many of the same families, aligning these programs, in order to best serve families, as well as informing parents of all the great resources available to them, has been and continues to be the goal of this group. This event, is hopefully just the first of more great work to come while these providers work so hard to serve the families in Kearns, and the greater community.

KearnsKearnsHeather says, “We attribute the great participation to excellent planning, coordination, and wonderful support from Kearns Junior High School which brought faithful followers. The event began at the Kearns Library for story time, which put a smile on everyone’s face watching the charming singing and kid’s interaction. There were about 10 children, 28 adults, plus many more staff from various organizations. United Way of Salt Lake provided the delicious catered food from El Rancho Grande restaurant here in Kearns. There was standing room only in the Parent Center at Oquirrh Hills Elementary School as they served up steaming cheesy enchiladas, tacos, rice, and beans. We hope to have more combined activities to build awareness of what community resources are available within a short walking distance!”



“At American Express, Service is Part of Our DNA!”

by Lacey Holmes
Coordinator – Public Affairs & Communications
American Express

On December 16, 2015, American Express employees in our Salt Lake City Service Center partnered with United Way of Salt Lake to bring the holidays home for children at Granger Elementary School.

Through a grant from the American Express Foundation made to the United Way of Salt Lake, the organization was able to purchase toys and needed items for the children of the Granger Elementary Community School after-school program.

Granger American Express
While playing Santa is an exciting job, our favorite roles were extended beyond that. Employees volunteered their time to help at the event at Granger Elementary. We began by leading the kids in arts and crafts projects celebrating various holidays. We were then pleased to enjoy a short musical presentation by the students. After which we witnessed pure joy as the children discovered their gifts.

Granger Amex At American Express, service is part of our DNA, and we strongly believe that serving our community is part of our responsibility. We specifically strive to support community organizations in areas where our employees live and work. As our SLC office is a mere 2 miles away from Granger Elementary School, this project is a perfect fit. Not only are we able to give back monetarily, but our employees are individually able to connect with the community in a way that money cannot buy.

Granger AMEX
Thank you to United Way for the long-standing partnership, and allowing us to participate in this event once again. We are glad to be part of such a great community effort. We know we can help Change the Odds!

Granger Amex


Utah Jazz Bear Delivers Coats and Gets Big Smiles!

sophie-siebachSophie Siebach
James E. Moss Elementary Community School Director

As the winter cold quickly descends upon the Salt Lake Valley, it is important to be aware of the basic needs of children and families that we serve. Thanks to Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment, James E. Moss Elementary was able to provide much needed coats and hats to 130 students. The coats and hats were delivered by a special guest- the Jazz Bear.

Jazz Bear

On December 2, 2015 Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment donated 1,030 winter jackets and matching Utah Jazz hats to 11 local schools which were identified by United Way of Salt Lake. James E. Moss Elementary School was the lucky recipient of 130 coats and hats. It can not be stressed enough how important donations like these are to our school and our ability to focus on academic success. Indeed, when physical needs are met administrators, social workers, and teachers are more able to focus on their primary responsibilities of supporting children’s social, emotional, and academic needs.

Not only did Larry H. Miller give us a generous donation, they also brought the donation with a very special guest- the Jazz Bear. A few lucky 6th grade students were able to help the Jazz Bear bring in all the coats and hats and were able to hang out with him for a few minutes. From there, the Jazz Bear went outside to play with the 5th grade and 1st grade students. The students were ecstatic when the Jazz Bear started showering them with silly string and confetti. Screams of joy, as well as a little fear, were heard throughout the school. The Jazz Bear then threw out balls and posters to the students and signed every poster there. The Jazz Bear was able to play with the kids for about 30 minutes and they were overwhelmingly excited to be able to hang out with their favorite bear.

Jazz Bear

Jazz bear

Thank you again to the Larry H Miller Foundation and the Jazz Bear for making the students of James E. Moss winter a little bit brighter, and a lot warmer.

Jazz Bear

Moss Elem

Partner Agencies Pledge Support for Collective Impact

james-brownby Jame Brown
Community Investment Advisor

United Way of Salt Lake uses the Collective Impact approach to create long-term community change. Partner agencies show support for Collective Impact through their relationship with UWSL.

One such organization, Community Health Centers, Inc., recently pledged its support in a big way!

For over thirty years, Community Health Centers has provided exceptional healthcare to people of all ages, backgrounds, and life circumstances. Community Health Centers, Inc. offers community members access to primary and preventative healthcare, dental services, and mental health. Jesse Oyler, a Project Director for the Health Access Project at Community Health Centers, recently told me of one of the great ways Community Health Centers serves the community:

”Vulnerable, underserved populations face barriers to accessing oral health care, including social, cultural, economic, structural, and geographic factors that contribute to huge oral health disparities. In partnership with the United Way of Salt Lake Dental Promise Partnership, Health Access Project has worked to improve access and coordinate good oral health care for the most vulnerable members of our community, as well as offering other valuable outcomes like a great smile and the confidence that a smile brings. This past Thursday and Friday our partnership was able to hold an after-hours dental clinic at Roosevelt Elementary School (a United Way of Salt Lake Community School), where 34 children and six adults were seen for their restorative dental needs.”

Providing these services are not the only way Community Health Centers give to the community. In their most recent workplace charitable giving campaign, Community Health Centers’ employees increased their contributions by 132 percent, raising nearly $2,000 more this year than their previous campaign! When asked about the campaign, Gary Ham, Director of HR, said the following:

“Community Health Centers has been a avid supporter of the United Way for many years. We believe in its mission, which coincides with our mission of reaching out into the community, to help those who have basic needs. As Campaign Manager, I watched our employees give generously this year, as they do each year. They are excited to be a part of this process of helping others.”

Being excited to help others is a huge part of its success! The generosity of Community Health Centers employees is inspiring and greatly appreciated! It is because of wonderful Partner Agencies like Community Health Centers that United Way of Salt Lake’s Collective Impact model is able to successfully reach so many children and families.

Thank you, Community Health Centers, for showing the community what it means to LIVE UNITED!

photo c/o Community Health Services on Facebook

photo c/o Community Health Services on Facebook

White House Recognizes Guadalupe School – Because of YOU!

Danielleby Danielle Lankford
Guadalupe School Communications Specialist 

The 2015-2016 school years is going to be amazing for Guadalupe School – we can just feel it. There’s something special about celebrating fifty years of empowering lifelong learners on Salt Lake City’s west side. And there’s some good karma coming with it.

We are so proud to announce that this year Guadalupe School was chosen by the White House Initiative on Hispanic Education as one of 230 “Bright Spots” in Latino education around the nation. As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, this initiative recognized agencies doing exemplary work offering early education, K-12 education and STEM education, as well as adult education to Hispanic populations. As you can imagine, Guadalupe School fit right in to the criteria, and we were truly honored to be recognized among those who share our passion for education.

But the honor doesn’t really belong with us – it belongs with you, our community supporters.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 1.28.55 PMIt is because of generous donors, community partners, and collective impact work, that we can send counselors into the homes of infants to help their parents create a home environment that nurtures cognitive development, and continues nurturing their development in a school environment in Toddler Beginnings and Preschool. It is because of community partnerships, like those with United Way of Salt Lake, that our Kindergarten through 6th grade students have access to enrichment activities that spark interests that carry them into future careers. It is because of our community volunteers who spend their free time teaching their first language to immigrants that our parents and adult community members are able to learn the culture and language of their new home, find more gainful employment to provide for their families, and find the joy in learning at any age.

This White House recognition and all that we have been able to accomplish over the last fifty years has been because of you.

No matter how big or small the donation, how much time you could carve from a busy day to volunteer, or how you have lent your support to United Way of Salt Lake and Guadalupe School; together, little by little, we’ve made a big difference.

Thank you all for LIVING UNITED, and congratulations – you deserve it!

Guadalupe School

It Takes A Village, But We All Are Ready and Willing!!

sean_sby Sean Strickland
Community School Director, Woodrow Wilson Elementary 

As a child, parent teacher conferences were my most stressful time of the year. The feeling of dread that surrounded report cards, talking to cute girls, or failing tests could not come close to that of a one-on-one conversation between the two entities that could decide my rewards and punishments. I had to quickly figure out how many weeks of classroom brownie points it would take to convince a teacher to give a positive review rather than the one that was probably more accurate. As a Community School Director at Woodrow Wilson, it took me no time at all to see that the amount of challenges and obstacles I faced regarding Parent Teacher Conferences were minuscule compared to what our families here experience, even things as simple as trying to have a conversation about their children with a teacher.


Parent teacher conferences, or SEP (student education plan), happen twice a year for the entire Granite School District. They are an excellent opportunity for parents to be updated on student performance, behavior, and to collectively set goals on what the student can achieve by years end. This is the model for any school in the district or state. What makes Woodrow Wilson and South Salt Lake schools different are the barriers that most families face. Many of our families live within a few miles, but due to busy streets, walking to school is dangerous. In order to make sure we could get as many families as possible, Promise South Salt Lake generously organized their own city van as well as got a Granite School District bus to provide transportation for any of our families.

Woodrow Wilson, just as many other schools in South Salt Lake, is extremely diverse when it comes to languages spoken by families. I cannot begin to imagine the level of frustration some parents feel when they come into their child’s school, excited to hear about the great things they have accomplished, and are completely unable to communicate with anyone in the building. With over twenty-five languages and dialects, it requires a substantial amount of planning and coordination with partners to get enough translators so that families are able to have their voice heard about their child’s education.


The five non-English languages that are spoken by the most families at Woodrow are: Spanish, Somali, Nepali, Swahili, and Arabic. For schools that do not have a Community School Director, this would be a major challenge for the administration or social worker to track down and schedule enough interpreters to be affective. However, all of the Community School Directors from the South Salt Lake Pipeline met to make a plan, find partners that would supply translators, and coordinate schedules to help one another. Without this teamwork and collaboration, I really feel our SEP night would not have been as successful as it was. We were able to use translators from Granite School District, the Latinos in Action program from Cottonwood High School, students in language programs from the University of Utah, as well as members of the Khadija Mosque community. What took a lot of work was all made worthwhile when seeing the smile on a parents face as they were able to communicate with their child’s teacher.

One of the major advantages of being a United Way Community School is that we are able to have so many amazing partners that have the health and well-being of our students as their main priority. During both SEP nights, the hallways were lined with different community partners giving out services and information to anyone that would stop by their tables. Promise South Salt Lake was advertising new after school programs to offer to students like a guitar class or the “earn a bike program.” Utah Health Policy Project and Midtown Clinic were helping navigate families through the tricky and complicated forms to get health insurance. Not only are the able to communicate the nuances of Medicare and Medicaid, but they are able to do it in both English and Spanish. Although there were many tears and frightened faces, the flu shots given for free by Community Nursing Services should help to give us healthy kids in classrooms all winter long. The newest partner that took advantage of the large family turnout was the Mobile Food Pantry, which is being supported through an amazing partnership with the Granite Foundation. Over one hundred and twenty families were given a box of pantry staples and a schedule of future Mobile Food Pantry dates.

The amount of support we receive from the community for the purpose of ensuring our students are able to be happy, healthy, and ready to learn is truly humbling.

Woodrow Wilson

Even though there are a few extra hours that can feel chaotic, at the end of the night we made something special happen together as a community.

Not many schools in the country can say that they have outside organizations, city entities, nonprofits, and school personnel all come together for the benefit of the students and their families. As a Community School Director, my main goal is to close the achievement gap by making school and services available to everyone.

I truly feel that having a community come together with this shared goal is the best chance we have to give these kids the future they so rightly deserve.

September is Attendance Awareness Month!

Carmela Castanedaby Carmela Castaneda
Community School Director

Attendance is the most critical part of supporting a student. The success of a student is highly dependent on whether a student shows up to class every day. The Atlantic wrote on an article about “The Economic Cost of Growing Truancy”, which states that “it doesn’t matter how good a school is if students don’t show up to class”.

In 2012, about 7.5 million students were chronically absent from schools nationwide. And, the consequences of truancy aren’t limited to a few missed lessons. There is a litany of long-term side effects that affect not just the children, but also their communities and the nation’s economic health as a whole.

Girls at Granite Park Jr. High

Girls at Granite Park Jr. High

Granite Park Junior High believes in this statement, and the culture of prioritizing attendance makes all the difference for students. Granite Park doesn’t have only one single month dedicated to attendance awareness, but instead they have a strong culture and policy in place to help work toward making sure every student shows up to class.

Kim Heppler, the Attendance Dean, emphasizes that attendance awareness is an ongoing matter that happens every day through school culture and communication with parents and students.

Granite Park stresses attendance every day of the year. We have the toughest tardy policy in the Granite School District, which results in us having the lowest tardies for the year in the district for the last eight years. We communicate with parents through the whole process and express the many reasons why lateness is important and does not just affect their child when they are late. Continued lateness results in after-school detention and making up the missed time.

Our attendance policy in regards to absences is also watched carefully. Ten years ago we only had seven out of 10 kids attending daily. The last seven years, our daily average attendance is above 91 percent for the year. Again, we accomplish this through great communication with parents. Students have seven days and then our attendance tracker sends a letter home letting parents know their child is missing too much. If the issue hasn’t been resolved, at 14 days the parent and student are required to attend a pre-court meeting. Granite Park is involved with parents and students all through the attendance process.

Granite Park Jr. High

We have a strong belief that everyday attendance is important to our students’ success.

Attendance makes all the difference in ensuring a student is academically successful. Granite Park believes that attendance awareness month and ongoing strategies, policies, and incentives throughout the school year support students in attending class on-time and every day.