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January 18, 2010

Live United and good things happen

Annual University campaign seeks at least $1.3 million to address area’s most pressing social needs

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Research shows that many Rochester children have the odds stacked against them right from the start: About 40 percent of children under five in Rochester live in poverty; one in five babies in Rochester is born to a teenage girl; 16 percent of kindergartners in the Rochester City School District have witnessed violence in their neighborhoods.

The United Way of Greater Rochester has been developing five Blueprints for Change to address issues such as these and will be looking to the community for support as organizers gear up for the 2010 campaign.

A special section in this issue of Currents recognizes the generosity of University donors from last year’s campaign to support the United Way’s mission of addressing the area’s most pressing social needs. The University, together with affiliated campaigns at Highland Hospital, the Highlands at Brighton and Pittsford, and Visiting Nurse Service raised more than $1.3 million in last year’s United Way campaign.

The University’s challenge for this year: Raise at least $1.3 million to support the initiatives crucial to the Rochester community.

Putting money where it matters

The United Way supports programs that are improving the lives of the people they serve. The five strategic goals identified in the Blueprints for Change are:

Early childhood—initiatives that provide children with the best possible start in life;

School Aged Youth—efforts to help students prepare for college, work, and life, by age 21;

Aging—support for older adults and their caregivers to allow seniors to remain active and independent as long as possible;

Crisis—organizations that help provide people in crisis, prevent regression, and provide assurance that families have their basic needs met;

Disability—programs to fully engage individuals with disabilities as members of the community.

In all, the United Way supports nearly 100 different area programs at community agencies through its unrestricted community fund, which affects more than 500,000 people. Donors can also designate contributions to one or more of the 553 additional agencies that United Way supports.

“The United Way is far more than a fundraising organization. It brings together people to find solutions to community problems that have a demonstrable impact,” says Andrea DeMeo, director of the University’s United Way campaign. “Throughout our community’s history, the collaboration of private giving and public purpose has fostered positive change. Our support of the United Way exemplifies our commitment to make our community a safe and prosperous place to live.”

A proud history

This is the 91st year of United Way’s commitment to Rochester, making the Greater Rochester chapter one of the oldest United Way organizations in the country.

The local United Way can trace its roots to 1918, when the Community Chest of Rochester and Monroe County Inc. was formed. Kodak founder and University benefactor, George Eastman, was a major supporter and donor, giving $600,000 during the organization’s first campaign. The first year’s campaign raised $3.75 million, thanks to the efforts of Eastman and other community leaders.

Be an early bird

The University’s 2010 United Way campaign starts next month, but you can sign up now and campaign organizers will contact you when online pledging starts February 8. Email uwco@hr.rochester.edu and tell the campaign office you’d like to get a jump-start on the campaign and get an invitation to this year’s dessert kickoff event on February 25. Check @Rochester for updates in the coming weeks.

 

The organization officially became the United Way of Greater Rochester in 1980 with the same mission to serve the community.

Eco-friendly giving

More than 72 percent of donors made their pledges online last year through the ePledge system rolled out in 2009. This year, University employees can again make confidential contributions to the United Way by logging into HRMS with their NetID. Payroll deduction may be set up or changed through ePledge.

In addition to substantial cost savings, the paperless option is estimated to save 17 mature trees by eliminating the printing of about 2,000 pounds of pledge packets.

For those who prefer paper pledging, it will still be available. Go to www.rochester.edu/unitedway after February 8 and choose “Make Your Pledge” and then “Pledge Form” to print a copy. Mail the completed form to the United Way Office, Box UWAY.

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