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Donors from $1 to $100,000 put their stakes in the ground

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In my role at United Way, I have the benefits of experiencing the unifying power of our community when it dares to dream, embraces its hope and has the steadfast will it needs to be something more. There’s nothing more satisfying than having a front row seat to witness the hard work and passion behind every program, funded or not, that strives to level the playing field for so many in our region. Even in these arduous financial times, our region embraces assets above deficits and team work as desirable, not just a “necessary evil”. From the counties of Amador to El Dorado, Placer to Sacramento and Yolo, folks are putting their stakes in the ground around education, income and health. And, it’s showing a significant community impact. 

What is community impact? It is something that makes a lasting impression on the region and its people. Community impact is not short-lived, temporary or arbitrary; it does not create false hope. It alters its course as needed for the best possible outcome. Community impact is not quick or easy. It takes dedication, strategy and alignment, cooperation and trust. It takes all of us. It takes you.

In little over a year, our health impact funded partners grew their reach from roughly 600 kids in 3 counties to a proposed 1600 in 5 counties this funding year with no increase of United Way funds, but with a lot of leverage and resource sharing. They put their stake in the ground and families are getting healthier.

Our education impact funded partners lift up those students struggling in reading; they get our kids reading at grade level by 4th grade.  It’s at this time in a child’s education that he makes the turn from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. His whole academic career and likelihood of successful graduation relies on it.They put their stake in the ground and kids are achieving.

The income impact funded partners assist those in our community vulnerable to slipping below self-sufficiency and becoming trapped by income supports.  The funded agencies help families dream, plan and implement plans for a stable financial future.  They help foster youth who are readying themselves for emancipation and adulthood develop a solid financial foundation that will allow them to make decisions based on future plans, not just crisis management. They put their stake in the ground so families and individuals can accomplish their dreams.

It isn’t just the stakes of the agencies that make community impact work. It’s our volunteer impact councils and their understanding of community needs their ability to make sound decisions and their commitment to a community that values all people. They have their stakes in the ground.

It takes the commitment of private industry to lend their knowledge and expertise, and to create opportunity to advance our work.  Mary Hogarty of Citibank put her stake in the ground.  Citibank funded an intense evaluation for our financial literacy programs this year through Success Measures ®.  This program will help us to move the needle for more families in the community by taking a deeper look at what really works. 

Donors from $1 to $100,000 put their stakes in the ground.  They want a better life for our neighbors, our children and our community.  That is the power of a unified community.  It takes everyone; everyone has a stake in it.  Where will you place your stake in the ground?]

Janas Durkee is a Program Officer in Community Impact at United Way California Capital Region.

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