Like many of you, I gave thanks last month. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see a reason to be thankful. Today, I’m grateful for Muncie’s Collective Coalition of Concerned Clergy, which is asking its congregations to donate to United Way of Delaware County this weekend to help end generational poverty.
And their help couldn’t come at a better time.
Right now, our community is at a fork in the road. On one path, lives are changed and our community’s future is brighter for generations. On the other, if this cycle of generational poverty is not addressed, the ramifications are severe.
Nearly half of Delaware County lives in poverty or is one crisis away from it—forced to make daily choices between food on the table, daycare, car repairs, and paying rent.
It’s a problem that will not solve itself, and it weighs heavily on our economic development. As a lifelong Muncie resident, local business person, and former Chamber of Commerce Board member, I believe we can solve this problem. But it will take all of us—including you—to move us toward the path of prosperity.
Research tells us third grade reading readiness is the single best predictor of a person's and a community's future, but our kids in low-income households are not achieving like they need to. In fact, 80 percent of children in these homes are reading below grade level, and they are 13 times less likely to finish high school.
By addressing grade-level reading, we tackle generational poverty. That’s precisely why United Way of Delaware County has set a bold goal to have all children reading at grade level in third grade by 2024. This single driver can end the generational poverty cycle and change the trajectory of our community. It puts us on the right path.
Notice we’ve given ourselves a deadline. That’s by design. Time motivates us to actually do something and to hold each other accountable. My oldest, who is in the ninth grade now, will be 21 in 2024. How old will your children be? What kind of community do you want them to raise their families in?
Too many have struggled for too long. Enough.
There’s progress to report. Four years ago, United Way started pilot programs in local elementary schools to see what could be done to increase third grade reading levels. We have seen big results, including being recently recognized as one of 15 out of 240 communities in the U.S. for our progress. Now, United Way needs resources to scale the programs.
As you might guess, it takes more than one or two organizations and programs to fully serve the needs of these families—both in crisis and from cradle to career. United Way funds 29 programs and carefully monitors their results to meet the needs of local families.
This is how we can all come together to help individuals today—and change this place forever. Several local foundations fund United Way’s operating costs, which are very low, so every single dollar you give goes to programs.
As we near the end of the 2017 United Way campaign, I’m asking you to consider financially supporting this necessary programming. Our goal is to raise $1.2 million that stays here in our community to help our families and their children.
Please give. Donations can be made here.
Our community stands at a fork in the road. Join the cause. Let’s take the path that reaches our goal and changes Delaware County for good.