(October 9, 2015) United Way of Southern Kentucky announced this week it’s new Community Impact Strategies including Big Bold Goals for Education. The announcement comes on the heels of the release of a new Community Impact Plan for United Way’s work that originally began development in 2012 and more recently took the shape of four priority categories as of June of this year.

The new Community Impact plan has been developed to create long-term community change and serve as a road map for United Way and its partners on how to build a better community that provides opportunity for all. It will serve as a guide to connect the strengths and assets of our communities with opportunities to improve in measurable ways. At its core, Community Impact harnesses the power of the entire community to create significant, sustainable improvements and thus it requires many community partners working together to solve complex, systematic problems.

United Way of Southern Kentucky started the transformation to a Community Impact model with identifying the critical issues in Southern Kentucky that need to be addressed. Instead of the standard “needs assessment” approach to developing priority focus areas, a community based model called “Turning Outward” (a process of asking and listening to the community to understand its needs and aspirations) was used to guide strategic decision-making. By shifting the focus away from pre-determined community issues and toward this model, it allowed the residents of the community to guide the direction of the conversation, focus and ultimately the impact work to create long-term social change.

Over the course of 14 months, UWSK listened to hundreds of people from across the ten-county BRADD region about their aspirations for a better community through a series of 55 community conversations and heard from nearly 5,000 community members about the issues most important to them through a survey process. People of all ages, ethnicities and income levels shared their thoughts and aspirations. It was from the analysis of the collected data that the four priority categories emerged of Education, Income, Health and Safety Net.

Based upon the results of this in-depth community-driven research, United Way of Southern Kentucky has now adopted a Community Impact funding model for 2016 and beyond. Focused in the four categories previously defined, seven priority focus areas with key strategies have been set:

EDUCATION: Prepare children, youth & young adults to succeed in school and life (cradle to career)     

Priority Focus Areas:

Kindergarten Readiness: Children start school at levels of physical, social-emotional & intellectual development needed for school success.

BIG BOLD GOAL: Increase BRADD area kindergarten readiness scores from 49.4% to 75% by 2020.


  1. Improve early learning environments and increase access to high quality licensed child care programs for children and families, particularly those of low-income and educational risk.
  2. Increase early learning opportunities, including early literacy and language development.
  3. Provide resources, education and other needed supports for families and caregivers to bolster their child’s age-appropriate development.
  4. Collaborate to create and implement a comprehensive high quality approach to school readiness.


College & Career Readiness: Students graduate high school prepared for college or other post-secondary training, work and life.

BIG BOLD GOAL: Increase BRADD area college & career readiness scores from 65% to 80% by 2020.


  1. Improve the connection between school and work for disconnected youth through career and technical education, apprenticeships, work study and other innovative education approaches.
  2. Increase the availability and use of postsecondary assessment tools.
  3. Provide quality out-of-school opportunities that reinforce and enhance learning and preparation for future success.
  4. Increase the preparation and soft skill development of students for post-secondary opportunities/choices.

INCOME: People have the appropriate skills to maintain a living-wage employment.


Priority Focus Area:

Workforce Development: Individuals have the training and skills needed to obtain and maintain family sustaining employment.


  1. Increase/create employment opportunities for individuals with felony records through training/reengagement in education, educating employers and connection with services to help secure employment.
  2. Provide support and education on training/post-secondary programs for individuals that have graduated high school but have not moved on to post-secondary programs and/or do not have sustaining employment.
  3. Provide opportunities for individuals that are under-employed to access employment matching their skill set.
  4. Increase knowledge of, and access to, training and education opportunities for unemployed individuals with focus on returning them to the active workforce.

HEALTH: Increase access to quality, affordable health and crisis intervention services.

Priority Focus Areas:

Access to Affordable Health Care: Individuals have access to affordable preventative, physical, mental, dental and other needed care critical to good health.


  1. Increase the number of eligible individuals that are enrolled in viable health care coverage options.
  2. Increase the number of qualified professionals and patient access for medical care needs including underserved needs like mental health, prenatal care, dental care and substance abuse treatment.
  3. Provide education programs designed to improve long-term health including navigating the health care system, substance abuse prevention, mental health, wellness, smoking cessation and obesity reduction/prevention.

Safe Home and Community: People are safe from violence, crime, emotional and physical abuse.


  1. Reduce the impact of violence on individuals and families through safe and accessible emergency shelter and crisis services.
  2. Provide education programs to reduce the incidence and impact of family and individual violence including violence prevention, parenting education and public awareness.

SAFETY NET: Basic needs are met in a timely manner through a coordinated system of resources.

            Priority Focus Areas:

Access to Basic Needs: Basic needs of food, clothing, and safe and affordable housing are met.


Emergency Assistance

  1. Provide emergency assistance (food, clothing, shelter, furnishings, utility assistance) to individuals who are homeless or in a financial crisis, incorporating efforts to return the individual to self-sufficiency.


  1. Increase rental housing sustainability supports including financial assistance for low-income (200% of poverty and below) households, and consumer education opportunities for financial literacy and renter/landlord rights & responsibilities.
  2. Increase the availability, and consumer knowledge of availability, of safe, affordable and habitable housing.
  3. Decrease total housing costs for low-income households through improved energy efficiency of dwellings.


  1. Provide options for healthy and affordable food choices that include nutrition and healthy meal planning education, with focus on reducing both food deserts and service duplication.


  1. Increase options and access for work related apparel and accessories.

            Transportation: Multiple options for safe and reliable transportation are available.


1. Increase viable transportation options across our communities including, but not limited to, volunteer driver programs, access to low-cost vehicles and/or car loans and alternative, environmentally friendly modes such as bicycles and mopeds.

2. Provide financial supports for low-income (200% of poverty and below) households to

access current mass transit routes.


UWSK seeks proposals to implement these strategies and will be working with community representatives to evaluate the proposals and provide funding. Organizations that are federally tax exempt, nonprofit, and currently providing or could successfully implement, quality programs in alignment with one or more of these strategies are encouraged to apply for UWSK funding.

Programs that provide services within a best practices framework, that are collaborative and integrated into the fabric of other community education, income, health and safety net efforts, that consider the goals, needs and aspirations of the communities they serve, and that are innovative are programs that UWSK seeks to support. Collaborative programs are highly encouraged. Funds are available on an annual basis to support programs for one year.

Organizations that are interested in applying for funding should read through the Letter of Intent Information Packet to ensure that programs seeking funding meet the programs requirements and can respond to all questions.

Applicants must submit a Letter of Intent by: Noon on Friday, October 30, 2015. The Letter of Intent is currently posted on the UWSK website (UWSK.org) for download to be completed and submitted to communityimpact@uwsk.org. Letters of Intent will be reviewed by a UWSK regional committee. Proposals that demonstrate meaningful impact in one of the priority areas/ strategies will be invited to submit a full Community Impact Grant Application.

For more information on how you can make the choice to LIVE UNITED, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at www.uwsk.org.  

United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives in our community. United Way is focused on the building blocks for good quality of life – Education, Income, Health and Safety Net. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community.