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United Way of Northeast Florida Strengthens Education, Income and Health

UW CAMPAIGN-006Originally established in Denver, CO as the Community Chest more than 100 years ago, United Way has long been seen as a fundraiser.  During a luncheon today, United Way of Northeast Florida volunteers announced a goal to grow its Community Impact Fund that will result in even greater emphasis on measurable outcomes and research-based initiatives.

“United Way’s fundraising effort is a critical strategy in identifying necessary resources to create lasting change,” said Chip Vance, general manager of Enterprise Holdings and 2013 United Way campaign chair.  “However, it is the impact that the dollars have on the community that matters most.”

Focused on education, income and health, United Way leads multiple initiatives while collaborating with numerous agencies to advance the common good.  Through measurable, research-based and proven strategies, United Way and its partners are preparing children for kindergarten, keeping kids on track to graduation, helping families achieve financial stability and assisting people in leading healthier, more productive lives.

Specific results for 2012-13 follow:

•  Ensuring more preschoolers are ready to enter kindergarten, generous contributions enabled United Way to fund 56 additional scholarships to high- quality early learning centers.  The Success By 6 initiative provides two-year scholarships to working families with three-year-old children.  As a result of the increased funding to the centers, 2,425 other children will receive the early education they need to also successfully enter kindergarten.

•  More than 1,100 middle school students and their families experienced the benefits of Achievers for Life, a research based initiative focused on dropout prevention.  Dropping out is a gradual process with signs appearing as early as middle school.  Achievers for Life provides at-risk sixth grade students with mentoring, tutoring and family support services that help keep kids on track to graduation.  Ninety-five percent of participants were promoted to the next grade and they experienced double digit increases in their GPAs.

• The RealSense initiative enables families to achieve financial stability by teaching them to prepare budgets, manage credit wisely and establish checking and savings accounts.  It also provides free tax preparation services. A study conducted from March 2010-Dec. 2012 indicated that RealSense participants who had checking accounts increased 24 percent, those who had written budgets increased 29 percent, and participants who paid their bills on time increased 10 percent.

•  One of the most common times an elder needs assistance is when he or she is recovering from an illness.  Through Life: Act 2, more than 1,200 seniors received coordinated care and services to help them lead independent lives.


“As an accountant, I am really impressed by the data,” said Anna Brosche, managing partner of Ennis, Pellum & Associates, CPAs and chair of United Way’s Board of Directors. “On a personal level, I am genuinely moved by people’s experiences with us.”

Leading several initiatives and funding 77 programs operated by 57 agencies, United Way has a tremendous amount of data and many stories to share.  The organization highlighted a few people whose lives were changed because of United Way-funded initiatives, including Dominic Cummings.  Cummings was connected with his mentor, Curt Lightbody, when he was a teenager.  Ten years later, Lightbody remains Cummings’ mentor.

“He pushed me to progress through high school then college,” said Cummings, a mortgage underwriter for JP Morgan Chase. “All the things I learned from being a mentee, I now want to instill in my mentee.”

Understanding the importance of mentorship and the difference it made in his life, Cummings now volunteers his time to mentor middle school student, Brajon Mixon.

More than 500 businesses, volunteers, civic and nonprofit representatives came together at the Hyatt Oct. 15 to celebrate a great start to the 2013 campaign, recognize the 12 companies that already reported results and see the positive impact their donations have on northeast Florida.

United Way of Northeast Florida works to create positive, sustainable change by focusing on the building blocks for a good life – education, income and health in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and northern St. Johns counties. In partnership with volunteers, community organizations, and leaders, United Way is advancing the common good by creating opportunities to improve lives in northeast Florida. United Way’s Born Learning, ReadingPals, Success By 6, Achievers For Life and Full Service Schools initiatives are  community-based approaches  to removing barriers to academic success. In addition, United Way leads 2-1-1, a 24/7 information referral hotline serving nine counties and Life: Act 2, a proactive response to senior independence. For more information, call 904-390-3200 or visit

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