I grew up back East and my school year was not over until the end of June. Even though I have now lived in Grand Forks for over 25 years, I still think of the July 4th holiday as the beginning of summer, and in August I still felt like I should half a summer to go. Well, with UND and public schools starting in just a few weeks, I am a little sad to see that every where I turn, everyone is talking about how the summer is almost over.
Here at United Way we want to hang onto summer as long as possible, but we are becoming very busy as the office, and our great campaign volunteers, gear up for the fall fund raising drive. In fact a few businesses have already begun with employees making their donations to a Pacesetter Campaign. Meanwhile we are putting the finishing touches on a campaign video which will help us explain our focus on reducing poverty in the Greater Grand Forks community.
Over the years United Way grants have been awarded to a number of local nonprofits to assist them in providing a variety of programs in the community. However, during the past 14 months our Board has taken a long look at our community’s needs and the impact of our funding. We wanted to know where United Way funds would have the biggest impact.
When we reviewed the various health and human service needs in the community, they tended to relate back to families not having enough money for some of the basic’s; food, clothing housing costs. We took a hard look at poverty and were sad to discover that Grand Forks has the highest poverty rate among the four major cities in North Dakota: Grand Forks is 21.4%, Fargo is 15.4%, Minot is 10.5% and Bismarck is 9.2%.
So, our Board has determined the best use for United Way funds and activities is to work on reducing poverty. Our goal is to have the lowest poverty rate among the four major cities by 2030! Starting with the next grant cycle (2017) we will begin our move to funding programs that are specifically working to help individuals and families move out of poverty into the possibility of a better financial future.
Now, while I am sad to see summer wind down, I am very excited by changes our United Way is making to our campaign efforts, and our new goal: Reducing poverty! Our Board, staff and volunteers are United to Positively Transform Lives and Build Strong, Caring Communities!
United Way President/CEO