A gift to the United Way is an investment in the common good. All of us have individual causes that we support, but United Way isn’t about a “cause.” It’s about the common good. And no local charitable organization does that as efficiently and cost-effectively as United Way.
The social challenges our community faces – violence, both neighborhood and domestic; poverty; low graduation rates; and ever-increasing numbers of older adults and their caregivers – are incredibly complex and interrelated. These are not single, isolated issues. And there are no single, easy solutions. Your gift will be applied to programs that are addressing the root causes of these problems.
An investment in United Way is an investment in Rochester’s future. United Way focuses its funding on prevention and early intervention programs in four key areas: basic needs, early education, school-age youth, and older adults. Nearly 45 percent of funding goes to programs for children and youth at risk.
By focusing on evidence-based programs and promising practices with demonstrated results, United Way ensures that every gift is invested wisely and well. An example of an evidence-based program is the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), a home visitation parent education program targeted to low income, first-time pregnant women and their children. Backed by more than 20 years of research at the University of Rochester, NFP has demonstrated improved per-natal, reduced child abuse and neglect, fewer child mental health problems, fewer subsequent pregnancies, and less reliance on public welfare. Independent evaluations have found NFP to be cost-effective, generating returns between $2.88 and $5.70 for every dollar invested (Washington State Institute for Public Policy, 2004 and RAND 2005).
United Way monitors quarterly the programs it funds to ensure that intended results are being achieved. But it also evaluates its overall funding strategies to ensure that progress is being made holistically.
A case in point: for the past year, United Way-funded after school programs were required to track attendance. Research has shown that children need to attend a program at least three days a week for change to occur. Data was gathered on 3,000 children and then shared with the Rochester City School District, which uses the same data collection system for its students. The result: the district reported that the children who attended after-school programs at least three days per week had higher grade point averages, better school attendance and fewer behavior problems than those who did not.
United Way is committed to reducing duplication of administrative structure and service overlap among nonprofits. In the past three years, United Way facilitated 18 agency mergers or program consolidations. Six other attempts at consolidation were unsuccessful; four affiliations are in progress.