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United Way challenge not just local

9:18 PM, May 10, 2013  |  Comments
Volunteers unload thousands of donated diapers for a giveaway program through Brown County United Way. Brian Gallagher, president of United Way Worldwide, says the organizations need to work together to maximize their efforts.
Volunteers unload thousands of donated diapers for a giveaway program through Brown County United Way. Brian Gallagher, president of United Way Worldwide, says the organizations need to work together to maximize their efforts.
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At a recent convention, Brian Gallagher, president of United Way Worldwide, shared the following information with the entire United Way network:

The Brown County United Way, along with almost 1,200 other local United Ways, mobilize communities to improve lives by advancing the common good. For over 100 years, United Ways celebrate proudly that each community United Way is autonomous in how it raised funds and approaches needs in the community. That standard remains, but we must act uniformly as a network in order to provide the full power of our unique brand. Strong national research shows that when United Ways concentrate on education, sustainable income and health, significant measurable successes can, and are, happening. Locally, the Community Partnership for Children is our flagship initiative, and the parameters are simply to have all children safe, healthy and ready for school by age 4. Along with many community partners, we have been at this for about eight years, and, although it is not yet to full-scale, it has shown significant success.

Troubling times are confronting our country, including stressed education systems, financial instability and critical health risks. Consider the following:

? 1 in 5 children in the U.S. live in poverty - more than 16 million in total

? 1 in 4 do not graduate from high school - this ratio increases to 1 in 2 for minorities

? More than 35 percent of American adults - and over 17 percent of children - are obese, dramatically increasing their risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes and contributing to a health care crisis in our country

? High unemployment rates affect family stability and development - and again, this is elevated among minorities

Despite efforts throughout the country to address these issues, many with varying degrees of success, we must be more strategic. Many successful local efforts remain invisible beyond our communities, never reaching the scale needed to drive national change.

Our future success requires us to build upon positive experiences and advance our networks, resources and operating model to meet the increasingly complex needs in our communities, while still providing basic needs and prevention programs that work. United Ways have long been a trusted community organization, and we remain committed to improving lives. We will continue to grow locally, while embracing our national brand partners to do it even better for the sake of all of our citizens.

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