Community Impact

The United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County Community Impact Committee determines the priority funding areas for the organization. Our current areas of focus support three high-need groups within our community: Education, Income and Health.


GOAL: Increase the Lincoln Public Schools graduation rate from 85% to 90% by 2022

Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. Without quality early learning opportunities, many children will lack basic skills and will enter kindergarten unprepared for school challenges. During their school years, children need to build on their early foundation. This foundation is critical in order to graduate from high school and go on to achieve financial stability as adults. Education is essential to getting and keeping a job with a livable wage and health benefits. In addition, communities with educated populations are more productive, more innovative and pay higher salaries. United Way is committed to ensuring that children have a quality education and grow into successful adults.


GOAL: Reduce the population living under 200% of the Federal Poverty Line from 35% to 30% by 2022

Low-income working families face numerous barriers to economic mobility. We realize that before a person can become self-sufficient, they need to have their basic needs met, such as shelter and food. United Way continues to assist those with low incomes who are struggling to afford these basic needs, while putting an increased emphasis on reducing the number of persons living within 200% of the poverty line. It is at this point where people begin to have the capability to build their own safety net, creating financial stability.


GOAL: Improve the local Well-Being Index score from 62.5 to 63.5 by 2022

The health of our citizens is a reflection of the health of  our community. Rather than a milestone to be achieved, health requires continuous attention. A poor education and income can be a barrier to maintaining good health. Transversely, a solid education and income can be undercut by poor health. Unfortunately, the health status of Lincolnites, including physical, mental and behavioral health, is affected by increasing rates of chronic disease, rising healthcare costs and instances of abuse and neglect. United Way is proud to partner with programs that address these situations and support families’ and children’s overall well-being.

Why These Three Areas?

We all have similar goals in life: a good education, meaningful careers, safety and security, raising healthy families. But for some of our family, friends and neighbors these goals are harder to reach. We’ve chosen these three areas because they are building blocks. If needs are met in all three areas, then opportunities are greatest for a successful, stable life. We’ve done our research, and we know that these focuses and the agencies we’ve chosen to fund will allow us to have a greater impact on the future of Lincoln and Lancaster County.

Educational achievement impacts individuals and communities. Communities with educated populations are more productive, more innovative and pay higher salaries.

  • 83% of public high school students graduate.
  • Currently, 85% of Lincoln’s third graders read proficiently. This is up from 83% two years ago. Students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma.
  • 46% of Lincoln Public Schools’ students participate in the free or reduced lunch program (18,014 children).
  • 63% of Lincoln Public Schools’ graduates enter post-secondary institutions.
  • 71% of Lincoln’s eighth graders are proficient in math. Students receiving free/reduced lunch have a proficiency rate nearly 16 percentage points lower than the overall rate.

A substantial proportion of Lincoln’s population faces real need.

  • 9,581 children in Lincoln live in poverty. This is down from 12,100 two years ago.
  • Children who live in poverty for at least half of their childhood are 90% more likely to leave school without a diploma.
  • The majority of adults in poverty are in the workforce, but only about 33% work full-time year-round. Over half, (57%) worked part-time or part-year, suggesting that underemployment and/or job loss contribute to poverty.
  • In Lincoln in 2015, 15% of residents had incomes that placed them below the poverty threshold ($24,036 for a family of 4). This is a 3% decrease compared to the previous year.
  • There are currently 5 neighborhoods living in extreme poverty (in 2000 there were none). These neighborhoods have more than 40% of residents that fall below the poverty line.

American health is declining quickly and is cause for concern.

  • In Lincoln there is a 20 year gap in life expectancy depending on the neighborhood you live in.
  • Of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., 7 are chronic diseases.
  • Almost half of all Americans live with at least one chronic illness.
  • Rates of domestic assault investigations vary from year to year, but have decreased 35% from a 2013 high.
  • Lincoln police respond to one call per day related to suicide; most persons committing suicide have no previous law enforcement contact.

We all share a responsibility for the future of our community. It is vital that we join together to build a strong foundation that leads to lasting change.

Statistics provided by Lincoln Vital Signs |

United Way and Lincoln Public Schools

Together with Lincoln Public Schools, United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County wants to raise the high school graduation rate in our community to 90 percent by 2022. Our organizations are working to support children both during and after school, so they have a better chance of graduating and becoming stable, productive members of our community.