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.
In the area of educational achievement, the relationship between high school graduation and lifetime potential is clearly established. In order to reach high school graduation, there are key development stages along the way, and if met, lead to maximizing the student’s potential not only in school, but in post-secondary education and beyond. These key development stages beginning with early childhood education, set the foundation and pave the path for on-time graduation and lifetime success.
The value of economic security is reflected in many places: A utility bill, a grocery list, a rent check or a trip to the shoe store for a growing child. These basic needs are within reach for many of us, but for some in our community they are not guaranteed. When basic needs are met and economic security is achieved, families have a greater chance at a stable future.
Health and safety issues can be difficult topics to address, but the fact remains that many families in our community need help and support in these areas. Domestic violence continues to affect our friends and neighbors. And while medical advances and discoveries are being made every day, the statistics for chronic illness remain shocking. Unfortunately, life won’t slow down and wait for those in need. Partner programs support these individuals to help them move forward to stability.
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, 82% of Lincoln’s third graders read proficiently. Students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma.
- 139% increase in number of students receiving free lunch.
- 62% of LPS graduates enter post-secondary institutions.
- 72% of Lincoln’s eighth graders are proficient in math. Students receiving free/reduced lunch have a proficiency rate nearly 17 percentage points lower than the overall rate.
A growing proportion of Lincoln’s population faces real need.
- 12,100 children in poverty; that is an 89% increase since 2008.
- 1/4 of homeless individuals are children 19 years of age or younger.
- Household income has decreased 4% since 2008
- In Lincoln in 2013, 17% of residents had incomes that placed them below the poverty threshold ($23,624 for a family of 4). This is a 58% increase since 2005.
- There are currently 6 neighborhoods living in extreme poverty. In 2005 there were none.
American health is declining quickly and is cause for concern.
- 1/3 of children living in Lincoln are obese.
- 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 overall have increased 36% since 2009.
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.
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 2019. 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.