(June 23, 2015) United Way of Southern Kentucky announced today it’s new community impact focus in a press conference at the Sloan Convention Center in Bowling Green, KY. As part of the announcement, United Way Committee Chairs (Education: Joe Tinius, Income: Dr. James McCaslin, Health: Jan Peeler on behalf of Mike Sherrod, Safety Net: Mike Grubbs on behalf of Bill Waltrip) outlined the goals categorized in four categories, Education, Income, Health and Safety Net, that will guide all of United Way’s work moving forward. Those goals include:

EDUCATION: Children, youth & young adults must be prepared to succeed in school and life (cradle to career).

            Priority Areas:

            School Readiness

                        Goal: Children start school at levels of physical, social-emotional & intellectual

development needed for school success.

            College & Career Readiness

Goal: Students graduate high school prepared for college or other post-secondary training, work and life.


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

            Priority Area:

            Workforce Development

                        Goal: Individuals have the training and skills needed to obtain and maintain

family sustaining employment.


HEALTH: People should have the access to quality, affordable health and crisis intervention


Priority Areas:

Access to Affordable Health Care

Goal: Individuals have access to affordable preventative, physical, mental, dental and other needed care critical to good health.

            Safe Home and Community

                        Goal: People are safe fro violence, crime, emotional and physical abuse.


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

            Priority Areas:


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

            Access to Basic Needs

                        Goal: Basic needs of food, clothing, and safe and affordable housing are met.


In 2012 the United Way of Southern Kentucky under the leadership of the Board of Directors began the development of a Community Impact Plan. Designed to create long-term community change, this plan will be a road map for United Way and its partners on how to build a better community that provides opportunities for all.

Instead of a standard needs assessment approach to developing the priority focus of the Community Impact Plan, United Way chose a community based model called Turning Outward (a process of asking and listening to the community to understand the needs and aspirations of its members) to guide strategic decision making. By shifting the focus away from pre-determined community issues and toward this model, residents were allowed to guide the direction of conversations and refine the focus that will impact the work to create long term social changes.

Over the course of 14 months, United Way 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. In addition, 4,760 surveys were submitted identifying the issues most important to community residents making this the most widespread nonprofit health and human survey in our area in recent time. After layering in secondary data, specific themes across every county and demographic rose to the top.

Upon the conclusion of this preliminary three-pronged research strategy, United Way compiled the findings into a report: ‘Voices for the Common Good: Southern Kentucky Speaks Out’ (available at www.uwsk.org) and began on a journey across Southern Kentucky to share the findings to confirm that there were no gaps or incorrect information regarding the critical issues identified. With confirmation from the community, United Way was then able to identify the goals listed previously for which strategies will be created to guide United Way’s work moving forward. The Education, Income, Health, and Safety Net committees will be working over the summer to identify the strategies that will help reach these goals.

It was also announced today that United Way of Southern Kentucky is already taking action to address one of the key issues that was identified during the research process: ‘knowing where and how to get help’ by moving ahead to launch 2-1-1 services for our 10 county area. Similar to 911, 2-1-1 is an easy to remember three-digit telephone number assigned by the Federal Communications Commission for the purpose of providing quick and easy access to information about health and human services. Professional Information and Referral Specialists work with callers to assess their needs, determine their options and provide appropriate programs/ services, give support, intervene in crisis situations and advocate for the caller as needed. Instead of multiple calls leading to dead ends, with one call to 211, people can reach a trained specialist who assesses a caller’s full scope of needs and matches them to the right services. 211 also assists during times of disaster, providing critical information about evacuation routes, food, and shelter.

Local businesses will benefit from 2-1-1 in that managers and human resource professionals will have a place to call for help with employees experiencing personal issues also resulting in decreased absenteeism as it serves as a central resource for child care and elderly care assistance. In addition, 2-1-1 offers employees being laid off a source of local support and information. Also, 2-1-1 will help minimize the effects of homelessness and crime in our neighborhoods, and help reduce expensive non-emergency calls to 911. Furthermore, with

2-1-1 as the first single point of contact, it can be an ‘early warning’ system for emerging health and human service needs; 2-1-1 can be the social barometer providing accurate, unbiased, real-time information about community needs and service gaps.

2-1-1 is currently available to 93.4% of residents in the United States and thanks to United Way as a result of  your input and feedback, it will be made available to all residents in the 10 county BRADD region in 2016. 

United Way of Southern Kentucky President and CEO Steve Wallace said, “As you’ve heard, United Way is changing how it works. Rather than selecting and funding programs based solely on their own service-based performance scorecards, going forward United Way will be working with local communities to define specific strategies that impact long-term community-based goals in Education, Income, Health, and Safety Net and then funding programs throughout the BRADD region that demonstrate how their work aligns with the work of other qualified programs to achieve those common goals. Let me be clear – we’re talking about real change…real impact…change that will improve the lives of our children and their grandchildren, for many generations to come. And we need you. We’ll be aligning with the best and most committed partners in our community to address these issues and then match them with available resources. And we’ll create collaborative, innovative and sustainable evidence-based solutions to issues impacting Education, Income, Health, and Safety Net – the building blocks for a good quality of life. I challenge each of you to be a part of this new work… to give of your time, your talents, and yes of your wallets too. Why? Because our communities have said they believe that together we can make a real difference. That together we can improve real lives. And that together we can bring about a better quality of life for every single person living in Southern Kentucky today…and tomorrow. And I believe them.”

For more information on how you can make the choice to LIVE UNITED through giving, advocating and volunteering, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at www.liveunitedtoday.com.  

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.



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