As we ring in 2018, the United Way team is hard at work tackling our toughest community challenges. We have big goals to make sure more people have homes, more students graduate, and more families are financially stable in the new year. But we can’t do it alone. It takes people who give money, volunteer and take action to make these goals a reality.
Here are three New Year’s wishes that we hope you will help us with:
- 30,000 Washington kids get access to school breakfast every day
In 2018, the Washington State Legislature could reduce hunger across Washington by passing Breakfast After The Bell.
3 out of 4 teachers say students regularly come to school hungry. Hungry kids struggle to learn and pay attention.
The national school breakfast program is designed to address hunger. Problem is, it isn’t currently working well in Washington. We rank 45th in the nation in participation in this program among low-income kids. Communities are improving participation by making breakfast part of the school day – just like lunch. Schools with high breakfast participation have better academic performance and leverage more federal dollars to support nutrition programs. That’s a win-win.
Breakfast after the bell is a simple solution to the problem of hunger. We’ve been working to pass Breakfast After The Bell legislation since 2014 – let’s make it happen in 2018.
- Disrupt the Cycle of Poverty So Students Can Graduate
Education can provide a pathway out of poverty, but immigrants, students of color and low-income students have lower odds of completing their post-secondary education, particularly at community colleges. We applaud Mayor Durkan for setting the vision for free college tuition for new high school graduates and we know that tuition isn’t the only barrier low-income students face.
Too many college students face hunger, homelessness, and financial shocks that prevent them from completing college. United Way Benefits Hubs address this by offering every day financial tools to help them continue in school. Working students need food, housing support, financial couching, and flexible financial assistance. With your help, we’ll grow this program to help 10,000 students.
- More $ to Tackle Our Toughest Problems.
As the homelessness crisis grows in King county, it’s easy to lose hope. But we can’t. Each and every person experiencing homelessness has a story. Each deserves better. And there is a solution for every one of them.
Housing is how we solve homelessness. For some that will mean one-time financial help from our Streets To Home program to get them into housing. Others will need long-term financial supports to keep them in housing. Many will need access to mental health or substance abuse treatment.
Our community spent 2017 aligning resources, becoming more efficient, and increasing accountability for addressing homelessness. But it isn’t enough – we know that. Some will argue that the resources are there, but we disagree. With nearly 12,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night, thousands more becoming homeless every year, and the escalating cost of housing, the current crisis requires more funding to both prevent and end homelessness. United Way is eager to work with our public and private partners on long-term solutions to generate new funding and ensure those dollars are used to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time.
Happy New Year!