What is Community Impact?
Community Impact is a philosophy premised upon improving lives by mobilizing communities to create lasting and long term changes. This is done by achieving measurable results through strategies that focus on community systems and resources. Community Impact brings organizations, community leaders, and community members together in a structured way, to achieve social change. As the United Way moves towards 100% Community Impact funding, we are also building a culture that fosters respect, relationships, and trust among all participants. Community Impact funding is centered around our three pillars: Education, Financial Stability, and Health.
Community Impact at the United Way of Northwest Illinois
The United Way of Northwest Illinois began work through Community Impact with the Education Pillar. The goal is for 100% of students in Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Carroll Counties to be considered "ready for kindergarten." This goal will help increase the number of students in our communities that are reading at grade level by third grade. This is important because research shows that if children are not able to read at grade level by third grade it has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children, but for their communities and our nation as a whole.
Under the Financial Stability pillar the United Way of Northwest Illinois' goal is to increase resiliency in our communities by providing services that equip families and individuals with the tools and resources to stay or become economicially independent. This goal will help reduce the number of barriers that prevent individuals and families from becoming self-sufficient. This is important because as many as one-third of working Americans do not earn enough money to meet their basic needs. Wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of housing, healthcare, and education. Currently, 40 million Americans are working in low-paying jobs without basic health and retirement benefits.
2018-2019 will be the first year for United Way of Northwest Illinois community impact health initiatives. Our goal is to improve the health of our local community through a wide variety of programs and initiatives. The new initiatives are centered around one of our two focus areas: social, physical, and mental health well being and chronic disease management. These focus areas are important because physical health, diet, and social engagement have an impact on mental health; good mental and physical health can improve an individuals sense of self and academic engagement; and more than half the population of Illinois is affected by a chronic disease (IL Department of Public Health).