As we approach the end of 2018 I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the great work that the Valley of the Sun United Way does year-round. I spoke with Chief program and Strategy officer Nancy Dean for our Valley Views program ... Here's the interview, and lots of information below.
Valley of the Sun United Way invested nearly $100 million into Maricopa County last fiscal year — continuing to move the needle toward ending poverty with the support of 5,000 volunteers, 90,000 donors, 400 corporate partners and hundreds of community partner beneficiaries.
Valley of the Sun United Way’s work is especially critical in Arizona — where it faces the fifth highest poverty rate in the nation with 667,000 people experiencing poverty in Maricopa County and one in every four Arizona children living in poverty.
“We are incredibly proud of the strides we’ve made in the fight against poverty this year,” said Merl Waschler, President & CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way. “There are far too many families facing economic hardship in Maricopa County and we look forward to continuing our efforts by supporting children and their families as well as the neighborhoods that need our support most.”
To improve the outcomes for these children, and build better communities in Arizona, Valley of the Sun United Way fights for kids, families and neighborhoods through a wide variety of programs.
The organization continues to support children by working to end hunger in the classroom, helping prepare students for college, facilitating a virtual tutoring program and promoting school readiness. This year, United Way made it possible for 61,000 Valley children to eat breakfast in their classroom every day, and sent over 900,000 meals home with students in need.
Teachers reported that Vello, United Way’s online tutoring program, improved reading skills in 83 percent of students in the schools where it is offered. Through Thriving Together, United Way was able to help over 2,500 students, within Phoenix Union High School District, enroll in postsecondary education in 2017 and through the organization’s school readiness programs over 55,000 kids participated in high quality early learning programs.
Valley of the Sun United Way also worked to support families by funding rapid rehousing, emergency food and shelter, permanent supportive housing, helping to promote financial stability and more. This year alone, the organization facilitated over 10,000 service connections for those experiencing homelessness and helped place over 1,300 people in permanent supportive housing.
To improve Maricopa county neighborhoods, United Way has focused on communities in need of support such as Central City, Maryvale and Guadalupe, providing health education, community garden builds and financial training.
Valley of the Sun United Way plans to continue its fight to break the cycle of poverty by creating programs in more communities, connecting more community members in need to critical services, and providing more children with education and access to nutritious food.
Through the development and maintenance of 20 community gardens, launching programs like Breakfast in the Classroom and WeekEnd Hunger Backpacks that provide students with food through their schools, providing nutrition education programs as well as partnering with more than fifteen programs to distribute emergency food, we are fighting to end hunger and poverty in the Valley.
The statistics were collected as part of the United Way’s Annual Impact Report, which is being sent out to community partners, donors and key constituents this month.
About Valley of the Sun United Way
Since 1925, Valley of the Sun United Way has unified diverse partners, donors, business supporters, nonprofits, government and faith-based communities to build a stronger Valley for us all. United Way and its 90,000 donors, 400 business supporters and 5,000 volunteers fight to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring children and youth succeed, ending hunger and homelessness, and increasing the financial stability of families. Join the fight, visit vsuw.org.