At United Way of Story County (UWSC), we believe that when we are United together, we can find solutions that make long-lasting, positive change in the lives of individuals and families, which is why our 2017 LIVE UNITED campaign theme is United Together. Finding Solutions, Changing Lives. We do this because every person in our community has a right to have a good quality of life.
Ultimately, we know that when we improve the quality of life for individuals and families, we improve the overall health of our community. This is no small task; it takes businesses, community members, and human service experts coming together to identify needs within the community and figure out ways to meet those needs effectively and efficiently.
With that in mind, UWSC board members formed work teams in the areas of education, income and health. The idea was two-fold: first, we wanted to make sure our goals as an organization were on track with the needs of the community; second, we wanted to establish a tracking system that would allow us to see that the programs we fund are making an impact in the lives of those being served. As a result, the following goals were identified for Story County:
Education: children enter school developmentally on track; children exit third grade reading at grade level; residents are educated on local issues and have tools to advocate for themselves and others
Income: individuals and families achieve financial stability; basic and emergency needs are met
Health: residents have access to enough food and healthy food; children, youth and adults have access to needed mental health care; residents are emotionally and physically well
The board members worked with representatives from partner agencies, human service agencies, the school system, health care organizations, ISU Extension and Outreach and UWSC to identify performance measures for UWSC’s partner agencies and beneficiaries of UWSC funding to report on. These measures are used to evaluate the effectiveness of programming.
UWSC already feels strongly that the programs we support are effective. But by adding this level of specific measures, we believe we can be even more accountable to our donors. We feel confident with the investments we’re making with the donations entrusted to us. But by measuring specific outcomes, we’ll be able to show our donors how their dollars are specifically making an impact in the community.
UWSC and our partner agencies have been working this year to begin collecting data and tracking these measures. By investing in this work we will have the ability to track changes over time, which is not something we are easily able to do now. By next year, we’ll be able to look back at the trends within a program to see the impact. To learn more about the results of these measures and to see the benefits of UWSC funding in local programs, visit www.uwstory.org or call (515) 268-5142.
Kim Mack is the marketing director for UWSC.