United Way evolves into catalyst for community change

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United Way evolves into catalyst for community change

Lisa Jossart

My term as 2014 board chair of the Brown County United Way is coming to an end. I am honored to say I have been a part of this organization during a time of such positive transition. United Way has purposefully evolved from solely being a charitable fundraiser (“dollars in, dollars out”) to become a catalyst for community change. In this new role, United Way leverages not only its fundraising efforts, but also all of its organizational resources and far-reaching local partnerships to mobilize the community around targeted solutions. Here is a glance at some of the transformative work being done.
As an organization, United Way is focused on the areas of education, health, self-sufficiency, and community connectivity — the building blocks for a good life. As part of this work, United Way is a driving force of support behind several vital community change strategies:

The Community Partnership for Children (CPC): A prenatal-to-age-5 initiative launched in 2005 that involves more than 40 organizations working collaboratively to ensure our children are safe, healthy, and ready for kindergarten. The CPC is viewed as a state model, and as such, United Way has mentored several other communities to form similar partnerships.

The Brown County Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect: In partnership with Brown County Human Services, a comprehensive community plan aimed at reducing and ultimately preventing child maltreatment was created this year and is in the early stages of implementation.

2-1-1: A one-stop shop for human services information and referral services, serving nearly 7,000 callers annually. Our collaborative resource database with the local Crisis Center and Aging & Disability Resource Center, as well as our 2-1-1 PLUS sites for those without home Internet or phone access, have been recognized as national models.

Achieve Brown County: This collaborative effort catalyzed by United Way, the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, and Greater Green Bay Community Foundation now involves multiple community supporters committed to developing a cradle-to-career infrastructure in Brown County.

None of these efforts could be carried out without fellow community members, organizations and partners volunteering their time and investing financial resources. Last year’s United Way workforce campaign supported 45 local programs and initiatives — all contributing to longer-term solutions and measured for performance and impact. While the campaign raises approximately 4 million dollars every year, this is just the base amount required to maintain existing levels of support. Therefore, as the organization evolves, so has its fundraising model. Along with the workforce campaign, United Way relies on additional support received through grants, planned and endowment giving and generous in-kind donations. These additional dollars and services help meet emerging local needs and allow United Way to lead and partner on new and ongoing community change efforts.
Each year most United Ways have also traditionally set campaign goals; such goals are often the defining benchmark for success. However, as we move away from single-stream fundraising, Brown County United Way is revisiting how our annual goals will be set, and how success will be measured. Our success in the future will not be determined by just a single dollar amount, but by all the results seen through year-round efforts to make positive changes in community conditions. Ultimately, that is a truer measure of impact and a concept the whole community can rally around.
I am both confident and energized by this evolving model that, driven by the support from so many in our community, will allow Brown County United Way to continue to play an important role in making our community stronger, better and more vibrant for all who live here.
 
Lisa Jossart, Brown County United Way Board of Directors chair for 2014, works for Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance.
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