United Way Newsletter
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Over the past several months, United Way leadership and staff have been engaged in advocacy efforts on the local, state, and national levels. These activities offer an opportunity for United Way and our community partners to bring heightened attention to community issues relating to our focus areas in Education, Income, and Health and Wellness.
Local: School Readiness Project
National research suggests that children will not enter school ready to learn unless families and communities provide the environments and experiences that support their physical, social, emotional, language, literacy, and cognitive development from birth. Programs in our community that address school readiness are currently developed and operated in relative isolation, and opportunities to fully address child development are limited. Additionally, local funders must often grapple with decisions about where they should invest limited dollars in order to make the greatest impact on these conditions.
As part of our Community Indicators Project, we have convened a group of representatives from local foundations, coalition-based organizations, providers, and government to identify and prioritize a set of community well-being indicators to measure our community’s progress in ensuring young children are ready to succeed when entering school. The committee will also establish a schedule and process for on-going data collection, and this data will be used to encourage collaborative planning and funding decisions related to early childhood development services and programs in Erie and Niagara Counties.
State: Impact of Proposed Cuts to Human Services
In April, Michael Weiner and Mark O’Brien, former executive director of Hopevale and former president of the United Way Agency Executives Association, authored an Another Voice column in The Buffalo News regarding the proposed New York State budget. It outlined the long-term costs of proposed cuts to human services and recommended efficiencies and other cost-control measures as an alternative approach. Michael has also personally met with most of the members of the Western New York delegation to discuss challenges facing their constituents, as well as United Way’s role in addressing Education, Income, and Health and Wellness - the essential components of good quality of life.
Federal: United Way Priorities
In March 2010, president Michael Weiner and board chair Bob Zak joined a contingent of United Way staff and volunteers from across New York State in visiting Capitol Hill as part of the United Way Worldwide Community Leaders Conference. They visited the offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and spoke personally with Representative Christopher Lee, to request their support for a number of initiatives. These requests support our focus areas of Education, Income, and Health and Wellness and reflect United Way Worldwide’s public policy agenda. They include support for the Calling for 2-1-1 Act; sustained program funding for Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRC); sustained or increased funding for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, strengthening of the Nutrition Authorization Act, including WIC, school breakfast and lunch programs, and Summer food programs; and protecting charitable giving incentives such as the charitable tax deduction and extending the IRA charitable rollover.
We will continue to seek advocacy opportunities, and will keep you informed of our efforts as well as opportunities for you to become engaged.