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Ambitious Goal Set To Support “The Power of Change”

It takes a strong community to marshal the resources needed to tackle its toughest human service challenges. United Way’s committed to the effort, and to the collaborations with people and organization that bring about positive community change.

 “Now more than ever, our neighbors in need are counting on our support, for their urgent necessities, and for the safety net of programs that help them move toward independence,” said Dan O’Neill, president of First National Bank of Omaha. O’Neill and his wife Alison kicked off the 2012 United Way of the Midlands Campaign today; they’re leading the fundraising drive over the next two months.

 Led by Omaha Central High School’s marching band and cheer squads, the O’Neills and an army of donors and volunteers marched down Capitol Avenue to 15th Street where several hundred others were gathered in Pioneer Courage Park for the kickoff picnic. The campaign chairs announced this year’s fundraising goal: $23,450,000, to be raised by early November. More than 1,000 people attended the picnic-style event.

 “Our community ‘s future depends upon how we care for the most vulnerable among us, and how we support the network of services that give people the support they need to become financially stable, achieve academic success and grow healthier, “ said Alison O’Neill.  “When we embrace ‘The Power of Change’ as a team of individuals and organizations, our positive impact grows dramatically. We’re stronger together than apart.”

 “United Way engages the passion and resources of our neighbors and community partners to improve people’s lives,” says Karen Bricklemyer, president and CEO of the organization. She says the organization’s community impact is, and should be measured in the data of “lives changed.” For example:

FINANCIAL STABILITY:  862 adults in a funded program learned how to prepare a budget and start a savings plan.

ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT:  91% of the high school students who received funded services earned enough credits to get on track for graduation.
PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTH:  91% of adult diabetics at a supported clinic were able to bring their blood sugar under control.
Even with these positive indicators, Bricklemyer says United Way sees the opportunity and potential to do even better.  “No single organization can independently put an end to entrenched poverty, or low academic achievement. But with thoughtful collaboration and a renewed effort to focus our precious local resources, we can change people’s lives. We can make a difference that benefits the generations to come.”  
Whether it serves in a lead role on future projects, or serves in a support role, Bricklemyer says United Way looks forward to facing these issues with partners across the metro area. “A strong community, like ours, champions those who work hard to lift themselves up. We see opportunities to make our community even better than it is today. We have the resolve work for long-term change. That’s who we are.”
August 29 – November 2, 2012
Goal: $23,450,000
Number of health & human services supported: 130+, across Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie counties
Estimated number of donors:  as many as 80,000
Number of companies conducting workplace drives: about 1,000
Number of people who will volunteer over these 2 months: 5,000
www.uwmidlands.org: Results data from funded programs, personal stories, LIVE UNITED Minutes & more.
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United Way Announces Grant Awards In Special Funding Process

Thanks to generous donors in last year’s fundraising campaign, United Way leadership set aside $700,000 to seed greater local collaboration on our community’s toughest human challenges. The grants are intended to sharpen the focus on persistent poverty east of 60th Street, improve people’s access to human services, and build the capacity of the local safety net to help turn lives around.
Karen Bricklemyer announced the results of this special one-time supplemental funding process at the Kickoff event on August 29th.
In all, 29 grant proposals were submitted by its member agencies, and the funding requests topped $1.7 million. A team of community-minded volunteers from the Omaha-Bellevue-Council Bluffs metro area reviewed the proposals and selected 12 of them for funding.
One of the largest projects is development of a “point of entry” for all homeless services in our community, so those-in-crisis can get support and get back on their feet faster.
Others include: expanded mental health services for extremely low-income individuals; intensive reading programs for children in impoverished neighborhoods; AND assist with child care for families considered the “working poor.”
The programs offer immediate-and-necessary care, and provide long-term solutions.
The lead agencies on the selected projects are:

  • Women’s Center for Advancement
  • Visiting Nurse Association
  • Urban League of Nebraska
  • The Salvation Army
  • Kids Can Community Center
  • OneWorld Community Health Centers
  • Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska
  • Heartland Family Service
  • Girls Inc.
  • Completely Kids
  • Boys and Girls Clubs

They bring with them more than 30 other local organizations as “partners” in the funded projects – substantially expanding United Way’s local collaborations.
The supplemental funding process itself was borne of United Way’s strategic planning objectives of transparency, accountability, partnership and engagement. As a result, the organization will focus more intently on the most pressing needs in the community today, and make greater use of data to provide accountability in reports to the community.  Information on the grants will be posted at uwmidlands.org in the near future.
 United Way of the Midlands engages the passion and resources of our neighbors and community partners to improve people’s lives. We help those who need it most and create real change for the generations to come.  UWM celebrates 89 years of service in 2012. People in our metropolitan area received services through United Way Community Care Fund programs 645,679 times in 2011.

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