We Can’t Let Migrant Children Fall Behind- Blog by United Way Worldwide President and CEO Brian Gallagher

When I visited the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year, I met parents and children fleeing violence in their home countries. These children were receiving basic care. But they weren’t in school. Most didn’t have books or computers to help them learn.

Amid the migrant crisis at the border, we can’t overlook the fact that kids aren’t gaining the skills they need. Basic requirements, such as personal security, must come first, but statistics tell us how important early childhood education is for children. Read more here

Reading Aloud to Middle School Students

Hearing books read aloud benefits older students, enhancing language arts instruction and building a community of readers. Learn more here

What Summer Slide Actually Means for Alison

Meet Alison!

Alison, a second grader in Forsyth County, has spent her school year working on literacy skills. She is finally reading on grade level alongside her classmates!

However, students, like Alison, lose an average of one grade level in math and reading over the summer without academic practice. Unfortunately, even though Alison’s mom works hard to provide for her family, she cannot afford to send Alison to summer tutoring.

Thankfully, United Way provides resources for summer educational programs to ensure students like Alison have access to quality summer enrichment programs so that they don’t fall behind in school.

Our goal is to raise $300,000 by May 31st to ensure these programs are fully funded this summer.

Click here to help change Alison’s life and the lives of other students like her.

 

Surviving Domestic Violence with the Help of United Way Funded Partners

“Sonia” entered the Family Services Women’s Shelter with her 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter after fleeing from her husband and what she described as a verbally, emotionally, sexually, and physically abusive marriage. He had a substance abuse problem which made his mood swings and reactions unpredictable. She had been coping with a variety of controlling and threatening behaviors and was fearful that he would find her. Each of her children had witnessed domestic violence and she was concerned about their reactions to these traumas. Sonia was 44 years old, completed two years of college, however was depressed, fearful, and close to giving up on her future.
How the United Way Helped:
Sonia and her children received information on Family Services, Inc. Intimate Partner Abuse program funded by United Way. While residing at the Shelter, Sonia was actively involved in counseling and supportive services. She stayed for just over 90 days, increasing her knowledge on domestic violence and safety planning for herself and her children. She was able to identify her vocational, employment, and financial goals. Sonia was determined to provide for her children and herself. She located summer activities and involved her son in football and her daughter in cheer leading.
The impact?
Sonia also entered the Rapid Re-Housing Program and acquired a stable home environment for her family. The Rapid Re-Housing program educated Sonia on how to be a good tenant, how to maintain housing, and provided temporary financial assistance. Since her transition from the shelter, Sonia was able to receive Tenant-Based Rental Assistance through the Housing Authority of Winston Salem and accessed full time employment as a certified nursing assistant at a local assisted living facility. Sonia now embraces a look of confidence and feels she is more knowledgeable about what a healthy relationship looks like.
Our hope is that because of continued support from the community, families like Sonia’s can imagine brighter futures which can then become a reality. Through the collaboration of the United Way, Family Services and the Rapid Rehousing, Sonia’s is living a safe and healthy life.

Why It Matters- Israel Suarez’s Story

Imagine being a single mother of three children, earning $13,000 a year, and learning that your oldest son has cancer. For Israel Suarez’s mother, struggling to make ends meet and trying to ensure your children have food, becomes more than second nature, it becomes a crisis and a matter of life or death. Fortunately for Israel, United Way funded programs paved the way for his family to overcome their circumstances. Learn more as Israel tells his story here

Understanding a Teacher’s Long-Term Impact

As every teacher knows, they teach not just content but a range of skills students will need to be successful as adults. A recent study shows just how important fostering those skills is: Teachers who help students improve noncognitive skills such as self-regulation raise their grades and likelihood of graduating from high school more than teachers who help them improve their standardized test scores do.

Read more here .

Governor’s Office Partners with No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Leadership Institute to Expand Access to School Breakfast in 10 School Districts

A new grant program will help expand school breakfast access in ten North Carolina School Districts, Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper announced today. As part of the 2018-19 Breakfast After the Bell Initiative, 10 North Carolina school districts will receive grant funding through No Kid Hungry and The Dairy Alliance to implement innovative breakfast programs in one or more schools each.

“Studies have shown that kids who start the day with breakfast perform better at school and have fewer discipline problems,” said Governor Cooper. “Making school breakfast universal and more easily accessible reduces the stigma.”

“We’re committed to ending childhood hunger in North Carolina,” said First Lady Kristin Cooper. “This grant will help ensure students have easy access to breakfast so they can start their day ready to learn, and we would like to see these efforts expanded to support the academic, social-emotional, and health benefits that eating breakfast brings.”

The program means grants totaling approximately $105,000 are being awarded to the following ten public school districts in North Carolina: Anson County Schools, Cabarrus County Schools, Cumberland County Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Gaston County Schools, Johnston County Schools, Kannapolis City Schools, Public Schools of Robeson County, Wayne County Public Schools, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Each participating school district will receive between approximately $8,000 and $12,276.

These ten school districts were deemed eligible based on specific criteria set by the North Carolina School Breakfast Leadership Team using NC Department of Public Instruction meal claim data for the 2017-18 school year. The districts selected to participate also demonstrate the opportunity to increase school breakfast participation.

Breakfast After the Bell Models include: 
Breakfast in the Classroom: Students eat breakfast in their classroom after the official start of the school day. On average, schools reach 88 percent breakfast participation with this model.

Grab and Go to the Classroom:
Students pick up conveniently packaged breakfast items from mobile carts in high traffic areas, such as hallways or entryways, and eat their meals in the classroom or designated common areas.

Second Chance Breakfast: 
Second Chance Breakfast is particularly effective for middle and high school students. Students eat breakfast during a break in the morning, often between first and second period. Schools can use an innovative breakfast service model or open their cafeterias during this break.

School Nutrition Managers will monitor implementation and progress of the new breakfast service model within each school. Superintendents, School Nutrition Administrators, Principals, and other school leaders will also provide support.

Almost 60 percent of students in North Carolina qualify for free and reduced meals at school, but only 42 percent of those students eat school breakfast. Innovative Breakfast After the Bell models, such as Breakfast in the Classroom or Grab and Go, are cost-effective, efficient, and remove stigma to ensure more students start their day with a healthy meal.

The School Breakfast Leadership Institute will help school districts take advantage of federal funds, grant opportunities, and other resources to ensure all students begin their day fueled to learn.

The North Carolina School Breakfast Leadership Team consists of representatives from: the Office of the Governor of North Carolina; the Office of the First Lady of North Carolina; the NC Department of Public Instruction’s School Nutrition Services; No Kid Hungry NC; and Bladen County Schools.

The Forsyth Promise Receives $456,500 Grant for Data-Sharing Project

The Forsyth Promise (The Promise) is pleased to announce that it has received a grant to support a student-centric community data sharing platform from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

 The award from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (The Trust), in the amount of $456,500, will fund the continuation of a student-centric data sharing platform between The Promise and Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools. Forsyth Futures serves as the data and research management partner on the project. The Data Sharing Project, currently in year one of its pilot phase, integrates key information on student attendance and performance in school with key information about their participation in extracurricular enrichment programs. At scale, this program will allow school system administrators and community program planners to begin to understand the impact that their services are having on children in the classroom.

Wendy Poteat-Spicer, Partnership Director of The Forsyth Promise, explains, “In making a strategic investment in the data sharing project, we are investing in our ability to understand the best and most effective services and interventions to change the lives of students in need in a dramatically positive way. This insight allows us to focus on what’s working for Forsyth County’s kids and allows our funding dollars to go further.”

At the time of writing, the data sharing project is in year one of a pilot phase with schools and community agencies in Forsyth County and will move into an expansion phase in late Summer / early Fall. Funding from the Trust will be used to support technical operations, program coordination, and program evaluation support for participating schools and agencies.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of financially-disadvantaged residents in North Carolina. The Heath Improvement in North Carolina program area supports community-wide health solutions across the state. The Local Impact in Forsyth County program area fosters equitable and sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life in Forsyth County. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. serves as a sole trustee.

 

The Forsyth Promise (The Promise) is an education-focused, cradle-to-career community partnership working to ensure that every child in Forsyth County has the chance to thrive in school, in work, and in life.  The Promise shines a light on what’s working well for kids, encourages focus on common goals and outcomes, and aligns our community’s resources and practices to ensure the best educational outcomes for Forsyth County’s children.

All Hands on Deck for Student Success

Now more than ever, youth are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles when it comes to accessing higher education or landing a job. College costs are increasing, making it difficult to benefit from postsecondary schooling, and still more students are lacking the necessary skills for quality, sustainable employment.

In California, Orange County United Way is making higher education a reality through Destination Graduation. The program aims to reduce high school dropout rates, while bridging the education achievement gap for middle and high school students in high-need districts. Based in 12 high schools and 10 middle schools, Destination Graduation has prepared more than 26,000 low-income students with the skills they need to compete in the global economy.

And in Boston, high school students are sharpening their business skills with the help of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Through Youth Venture, a civic engagement and entrepreneurship program, young people develop and implement their own business ideas to improve their communities.

From career expos and afterschool mentorships, to financial management and college readiness courses, United Ways are providing myriad opportunities for youth to learn and grow. And you can do your part to help! By reaching out to your local United Way, you can find out where your support is needed most. Explore the possibilities. You don’t need a background in education or social work to make a mark. All you need is a willingness to give back. Visit your local United Way’s website to learn how they’re assisting kids right in your own community. Often, there will be opportunities listed for volunteers interested in donating their time or services.

  1. Wear your mentorship hat. Sometimes, all students need is someone to listen and support them as they navigate through their educational journey. As a volunteer mentor, you can use your experiences to inspire them to maximize their potential and reach for the stars. Your local United Way can help by pairing you with local students seeking mentorship.

 

  1. Suggest a career day. Ask your company if they would be willing to host a career day. Not only will senior leadership get the chance to communicate the value of your industry to potential future employees, but local youth will get an important glimpse into what it’s like working in a full-time job, giving them context for the future.

Connect with your local United Way today to learn how you can support the youth in your community.

Supporting Moms with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

According to the beautiful images on Instagram and Facebook, a plump new baby and a well-rested, smiling mother enjoying every minute of motherhood is the norm in the early days after giving birth.  But real life does not always play out like it does in curated posts and choreographed photos. Every new mother I know is familiar with the roller coaster that accompanies the first few weeks and months after welcoming a new baby. For many, the days just after giving birth are marked by restless nights in the hospital, an uncomfortable recovery from labor, the learning curve of how to care for a newborn – all while attempting to catch up on sleep.

For some mothers, that’s not where the stress and anxiety ends. Some new moms are grappling with their newborn’s health issues. Some mothers could be jobless, homeless or plagued with an addiction, while others deal with a partner who is deployed or not in the picture. Some new moms are teenagers and may have a minimal support system in place. With all of those factors in play, in addition to recalibrating post-pregnancy hormones, it is no wonder that many mothers feel overwhelmed.

The American Psychological Association says postpartum depression afflicts approximately one out of seven new mothers and can start anytime after giving birth, from a few weeks to a year. With almost four million births reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016, that means over half a million new mothers are suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety in the U.S. alone. Symptoms and severity range from mood swings, to difficulty sleeping, to feeling overwhelmed to the more serious thoughts of hopelessness or self-harm. A full list of symptoms can be found here. What all new mothers and those around her need to know is that help and support is available to them.

United Way believes that children deserve a strong start in life and that having a healthy mother or caregiver is the first step in that direction. If you or someone you know is a new parent (mother or father) and experiencing any symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, reach out for help. Talk to your partner, doctor, pediatrician, other moms, friends or relatives about what you’re going through. You can also call 2-1-1 for immediate assistance.

This Mother’s Day, let’s ensure every mother gets the support and care she needs to be the strongest advocate she can for her new child.