In the television ads, people take layers of clothes off until they are showing a T-shirt emblazoned with "Live United," the not-for-profit's new slogan. The United Way of Southeast Missouri announced more of its new focus and goals for the future Tuesday.
"Wear your Live United T-shirts, and if someone asks what the shirt stands for, take a couple of minutes to explain what the United Way does," said Karen Kraus, United Way marketing chairwoman.
Commonly known for raising funds to help social agencies meet community needs, the United Way of Southeast Missouri's new direction emphasizes having a greater effect on social issues. Officials said the United Way realized that simply passing money along to local agencies does not always result in social change.
Aside from changing its focus, the United Way of Southeast Missouri is strengthening the United Way of America's "bold goals" — education, income and health.
The United Way of Southeast Missouri, already aligned with United Way of America's "bold goals," will focus more on those issues and how local agencies can help them achieve change.
"It is easy to see how our three issue areas fold into the overarching UWA areas. This is our future and the future of the movement," said Nancy Jernigan, United Way of Southeast Missour executive director.
The goals include promoting quality early child care and learning, improving graduation rates, providing basic needs for families in crisis, helping families build and retain assets, supporting victims of abuse and neglect, and assisting healthy and active seniors.
"In 2006 we learned that 41 percent of single parent families lived in poverty," Jernigan said. "Most payday loans are for around $300. With this in mind we tried to work with families and attain a goal of keeping a $300 minimum in savings."
The national organization has set 10-year goals to challenge local communities to more aggressively create opportunities for a better life for everyone. The proposed goals include cutting the high school dropout rate and the number of working families struggling financially in half and increasing the number of healthy youths and adults by one third.
The United Way of Southeast Missouri's 2004 community assessment showed the UW a community profile.
* 24 percent of children live in poverty
* One in five students will not graduate
* 25 percent of area children are not ready to start kindergarten
* One in four families are not economically self-sufficient
Information from the community assessment also expressed the need for continued independence for the elderly through meal programs and continued support for victims of abuse and neglect.
The United Way of Southeast Missouri's new plans include getting concerned people to commit to giving, advocating and volunteering to make the community stronger. Seeing the familiar faces of community members in print who are "Living United," is one way the United Way is igniting people — by example — to give, advocate and volunteer.
The United Way will announce its 2008 to 2009 campaign Aug. 28. The Step Up challenge sweepstakes for prizes will again be available to those who increase giving by $1 weekly.
For more information, visit www.unitedwayofsemo.org/ or call 334-9634.
335-6611, extension 133
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