Fall! Time for back to school, football games and our United Way campaign. As a board member for my local United Way and also being involved with Susquehanna’s Corporate Campaign, I am very passionate about the great work that the United Way does in our market area. But why donate to the United Way?
Each local United Way assesses and addresses the needs of the communities in which they serve. Allocations of funds to programs are carefully determined by a group of volunteers from that community to ensure the greatest outcome of community donations. Typically, funding priorities focus around the building blocks of someone’s life: Education, Income and Health.
Being a mom of three kids, I really appreciate the United Way’s focus on education, particularly providing accessibility to quality early childhood education. My kids had this access, but others aren’t so lucky. Why is it so important? Early childhood programs reach children at a critical point in their brain development, and the impact is sustained long-term. According to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Commission, “Students who lack the necessary literacy and language skills by third grade simply don’t catch up. Until third grade, children learn to read; from third grade on, they read to learn.” By attending a preschool or prekindergarten, kids are better prepared to start and succeed in school. This in turn helps them succeed in life and helps build and sustain our community.
So, how does the United Way help provide this access to education? They do this in many ways. They provide “scholarships” to attend preschool classes, for children whose parents or guardians couldn’t afford to enroll them. Many United Way chapters also create a focus in the community about early learning and the importance of these programs. Or they take part in a comprehensive improvement effort and are leveraging significant school readiness resources. The needs of your community will determine what your local United Way will fund.
Early childhood education is one reason I support United Way. I’m sure other employees have their own reasons as well. What’s clear is that Susquehanna is committed to the United Way. Our employees and the company donated more than $665,000 to chapters in our market territory under last year’s campaign. We’re hoping to meet or exceed that level as this year’s campaign begins!
What community causes do you feel are most important to support?