United Way of Youngstown Sees Impact Grow
By Roxann Sebest, Director of Communications
YOUNGSTOWN – In 2019, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley celebrated its 100th anniversary of serving our neighbors. We spent the year celebrating our founding fathers and all those who have contributed to our organization since its inception in 1919.
We will officially announce our 2019 Centennial Campaign this month and are on track to have one of the best fundraising campaigns in a century and exceed our $3 million goal.
We experienced an amazing year with a record-breaking Centennial Champions Gala to celebrate our anniversary, which raised more than $300,000. In addition, our donations increased, thanks to the generosity of a local foundation that matched any new and increased donations. And for the fourth year in a row, our United Way received the highest rating from Charity Navigator for fiscal responsibility, transparency and program funding.
Our Success After 6 initiative once again saw growth as we added Struthers Elementary School to our sites that serve students with afterschool programming. For the 2019-2020 school year, we are in 14 schools in six school districts: Youngstown Community School, Youngstown City, Campbell, Girard, Liberty and Struthers.
The Success After 6 after-school program serves more than 700 students, with a United Way coordinator staffed at each school site. In partnership with the school districts, we were awarded one additional 21st Century grant to help fund programming and services at Struthers Elementary. The students who attend the after-school program continue to show improvement in reading, math, attendance and behavior.
This work with students and their families remains a driving force behind increased donations. In 2020, we will continue to work with the schools to strengthen the initiative and bring the necessary services to the districts.
Success After 6 wraparound services reach more than 4,000 students and family members at the 14 sites. Through collaboration with community partners, our vision program served more students. We screened 2,500 students and 544 children were identified to be examined by doctors, up 100 from the previous year. Approximately 300 received glasses.
Our other education initiatives continue to show measurable impact. Success By 6, our pre-kindergarten readiness program, graduated 653 students in 19 school districts with literacy scores rising an average of 12 points over the four-week program. Imagination Library, which offers free books to children under 5 living in Mahoning County, reached a milestone by serving 5,637 children and graduating 4,696.
Young Women Mentorship takes place at Taft Elementary and Boardman Intermediate with 35 mentors and 44 students. The Promising Men’s Mentorship Program started at Youngstown Community School and expanded to Taft Elementary School in 2019 with 12 mentors serving 35 students. Volunteer opportunities continue to grow and in 2020 more companies are taking part in the after-school program, donating their time and talents to the students.
In 2019, we broke ground on an expansion and renovation on our building at 255 Watt St. in Youngstown, which we have called home since 1983. In March, we expect to move back into the building. We are reconfiguring the office space while adding 2,500 square feet to accommodate our growth over the last 10 years.
As we see the economic landscape of the Mahoning Valley shift with the closing of several large employers, we continue to fund 35 nonprofit agencies that provide educational programming and emergency services.
2020 marks a new two-year funding cycle and this spring we will announce a new round of funding.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.