Strength in Numbers: Amplifying Our Impact Through Raising NY
Leading and participating in coalitions is a vital part of United Way’s work to create systemic community change. Many are familiar with United Way’s role in bringing together local experts and community members to advance collective impact here in Western New York. However, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County is also part of an important statewide group, Raising NY.
The goals of Raising NY – access to health and developmental care, access to high-quality affordable child care, helping more parents become financially secure, and building a system that works together for families – are strongly tied to United Way of Buffalo & Erie County’s impact priorities, in both early childhood and beyond.
Raising NY divides its agenda into four priorities that very closely align with what we’re working to do in Buffalo & Erie County. The first priority set forth by Raising NY is ensuring that birthing people receive early prenatal care, as well as support through delivery, and quality postpartum care. UWBEC works to fund organizations and supports the development of programs like GO Buffalo Mom or our Doula pilot program with New York State. All of these are aimed at providing support to birthing people and connecting them with timely, quality healthcare with special emphasis put on traditionally marginalized groups.
Additionally, Raising NY prioritizes helping parents become more financially secure. United Way of Buffalo & Erie County has long been a proponent of helping people achieve financial security and financial literacy. Programs that we spearhead like the VITA Network educate parents about and assist them in taking advantage of tax credits aimed at supporting working families, such as the Empire State Child Credit, or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Other priority areas of Raising NY include ensuring access to high-quality affordable child care and building a system that works for families by convening stakeholders from several agencies (nonprofit, medical, governmental, etc.) to reduce the disconnect between agencies that serve children and families. Both of these are high priorities of our UWBEC Early Childhood Coalition and complements work that is already being done by our funded agencies right here in Erie County.
However, the true power of Raising NY is its size. We’ve all heard the saying “there is strength in numbers” and Raising NY proves that. Because of the size of the Raising NY partner network, many organizations across the state are advocating for these essential changes and it’s working. In recent years, the collective advocacy of Raising NY partners, alongside the NYS Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC), has led to bills being passed related to early childhood, child care expansion and accessibility, increasing funding for home visitation, and increasing funding for preschool children with special needs.
Being part of a statewide coalition like Raising NY is an important conduit for best practices. United Way is able to represent the Raising NY and ECAC message on a local level here in Western New York, bringing research, programs and an understanding of the public policy advocacy work of Raising NY partners. The partnership also allows for United Way of Buffalo & Erie County’s work to be amplified on a state level.
When education Program Director Kathy Jamil thinks of the challenges facing families in our community, she says, “policymakers do want to help. And through channels like Raising NY, United Way can be the voice of people who are living these experiences in Erie County, through channels policymakers wouldn’t otherwise have access to.”
There is strength in numbers, and together, partners like United Way of Buffalo & Erie County and Raising NY can uplift our community and tackle important issues that are too large for any one organization to take on alone.