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At United Way of America’s Community Leaders Conference in May 2008, UWA CEO Brian Gallagher challenged local UWs to join in a national movement to address three broad goals for the common good. In doing so, he shared the following charge: “For millions of hard-working families, the basic ingredients for a good life are increasingly beyond reach. Almost one in four working parents don’t earn enough to provide for their families. An alarming 25% of teenagers will not graduate on time, imperiling their chances to make a successful transition to adulthood. Only one in three adults can be considered healthy, based on risk factor data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 49 million Americans lack even basic health insurance. Our nation can’t accept these conditions. We need to challenge our systems—to create opportunities for a better life for everyone. To move more aggressively in this direction, United Way drew on research and sought input from a broad range of partners to gauge where progress has—and has not—been made over the last 10 years. This information is the foundation for these Goals for the Common Good. By 2018, we as a nation must: o Cut by half the number of young people who drop out of high school o Cut by half the number of lower-income families that lack financial stability o Increase by a third the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors” Nationally, the work has been categorized into three main bodies of work with ten target issues and specific indicators. United Way of Central Ohio believes that it is important we endorse the national effort and accept the challenge that it suggests in approaching our work. Our current framework for community impact holds ourselves accountable for the strategies and associated performance measures we have developed to support each of our nine community results. Now, as a result of the national challenge, we feel it is important to hold ourselves accountable for broader community level indicators which are closely related to each of our nine community results and to set specific targets for the changes we hope to produce in the directions those indicators move over the next ten years.
Over the last several months we have been diligently developing a focused number of strategies and associated performance measures to be used to direct our overall work in community impact and to more specifically direct our program investment process, as well as our initiatives in the coming months and years. These strategies (3-6 per community result) represent a very strategic, evidencebased approach that will guide our investment of financial and other resources. A key
aspect of this work is the development of a limited number of performance measures (i.e. common outcomes) that will be measured by all like programs. This shift will allow UWCO to aggregate data from like programs and significantly focus the work being funded. It is around these performance measures that UWCO previously planned to hold itself accountable.
The Response to the National Challenge
In response to the national challenge, UWCO leadership has decided that now is the time for UWCO to be bold and truly commit to making a significant impact on our community results. To that end, each Result Committee, at its June meeting was asked to begin the process of identifying and claiming a bold “stake in the ground” for which UWCO will hold itself accountable with regard to that community result. This “stake” is a community level indicator with a specific target for change that we intend to achieve, as a community, by 2018. It is clear that United Way will not be able to impact a community level indicator without significant collaboration with other partners and the creation of a local “movement” to support that particular work. Community level indicators will have similar basic characteristics. They are: simple, straight-forward, easily communicated, and compelling. The community level indicator must communicate well to a broad audience in order to support creating a movement around the target. An example of a stake in the ground (or community level indicator) for the Financial Stability Community Result might be: “Double the number of lower income working families that have a checking or savings account with a minimum balance of $300” These Community Level Indicators will be the focus of our work going forward and every effort will be made to achieve these goals by 2018.
How do the strategies/performance measures relate to the community level indicator?
Simply, the community level indicator is the measure of the change we want to see and will hold UWCO accountable for achieving relative to the given community result. This change will require the use of all of the tools in our toolbox including investments, capacity building, advocacy, system level change, etc. While we will hold ourselves accountable for achieving the community level indicator, it will require that we instigate efforts beyond our own to be successful. The strategies will certainly contribute to the attainment of the proposed impact of the Community Level Indicator but have been designed to measure individual level data for programs and projects funded by United Way. It is certainly necessary that no strategies should be in contradiction with the targeted change of the Community Level Indicator; however, the direct contribution of the strategy to the attainment of the targeted change will vary by strategy. We are certainly aware, and research has demonstrated, the positive benefits to creating change through multiple strategies targeted to the same end.
June July August September Initial Results Committee Conversation Decision by Community Impact Council re: Do we select Community Level Indicators? Impact Council Input Final Results Committee Recommendations Final Impact Council Recommendations and Decision by UWCO Board
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Communicating these Community Level Indicators
We plan to communicate these Community Level Indicators in the format being used by UWA – they have three pillars, we will have four:
Community Result: Young children enter kindergarten physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively prepared to succeed. Indicator: TBD Community Result: Youth graduate from high school wellprepared for additional learning and productive careers Indicator: TBD
Community Result: People achieve financial stability Indicator: TBD Community Result: People in crisis have access to emergency food, shelter and financial assistance Indicator: TBD
Community Result: People live in safe neighborhoods Indicator: TBD Community Result: People live in safe and decent housing Indicator: TBD Community Result: The community is prepared to respond to disasters and emergencies in a coordinated and comprehensive way Indicator: TBD
Community Result: People overcome barriers to accessing health & wellness services Indicator: TBD Community Result: People maintain healthy nutrition and physical fitness Indicator: TBD
Nine Community Level Indicators is a large number so we will very likely only focus on a few for campaign purposes, however, we believe it is essential that we achieve all nine in order to Advance the Common Good. These issues are yet to be determined, however, we can be certain that we will present a focused agenda that every person on staff and each volunteer is able to easily communicate.
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