This is an update on what is happening in our community and why your giving to United Way is part of the solution.
Obviously, the pandemic is impacting all of us. You have changes at your business and at home that you are managing, and we are all seeing the impacts of health, economic, childcare, education and racial unrest. As you know by now, 211 calls are way up. People who have lost income or jobs need food, housing and utility assistance, and flex funds for emergencies. We are also seeing requests for personal care items (shampoo, diapers) and mental health support ticking up.
With instability on the rise, we have seen auto thefts, burglaries, domestic and gun violence increase. With recent events close to home in Minneapolis and Kenosha, the cry for police reform and subsequent protests and riots are causing all of us to question what is going on – and more important, what do we do about it?
This is where you come in.
First, we have to believe that race matters. It should not, but it does. We know Black and Brown neighbors are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in health, income, education and other outcomes. We need to recognize that racism exists, despite our individual best intentions, and that there are policies and systems around us that disproportionately impact people of color that we can improve.
Second, we have to actively participate in making things better. Your gifts to United Way are an important way to do this. We bring people together to frame issues, mobilize resources and hold ourselves accountable for results. With calls for police reform and Black Lives Matter, we see people wanting access to education, financial stability, health and to not be stopped, incarcerated, or killed based on the color of their skin.
Third, we have to understand the path forward. We need to get to the point of agreeing on what police reform looks like. The Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration, facilitated by United Way and NAACP, is currently reviewing a set of local police reform standards that is being vetted through the Dane County Chiefs of Police Association and Leaders of Color networks. Most of us agree on what the policies should be, what we need to do is build trust and the practice of those policies.
Finally, help your teams, families and networks understand the work of United Way and encourage them to give. The most effective way you can do this is to share why you personally support and why your organization supports United Way. We are getting more workforce housing built. We are recruiting and training mentors for justice-involved youth. We coach parents and their babies, so they are ready for 4K, and not three years behind. We increase literacy and graduation rates. We help families heal through trauma and the unexpected. We train and support workers to get ready for higher paying jobs. We devote resources, time and energy to tackle Dane County’s toughest issues in the areas of education, income and health – the building blocks of well-being. We coordinate and amplify your impact.
This year’s progress summary is the last time you will see result highlights in this format. Until we are online with our data analytics and visualizations, know that we are using your donations to hold our partners and ourselves accountable, focus on root causes and move the ball forward.
This matters to you because you want a safe and strong community for your business and family. Together, we are The Power of Many. Working for All.
President & CEO