This year’s campaign theme ‘UNITED WE FIGHT, UNITED WE WIN,’ created a lot of fun at our 2018 Campaign Kickoff luncheon, especially with Darren Burgfeld as our ‘ring announcer.’
 
Thanks to our Kickoff sponsor, Home State Health, our corporate investors, our workplace and individual donors, our 24 partners, and numerous volunteers, we raised $3,000 for mini grants, premiered the moving video KFVS12 generously helps us with every year, closed with some exciting news about a one-of-a-kind event coming in May (details on that in next month’s issue) and shared some powerful data on the collective impact of the United Way network.
Each year our partner agencies and programs must provide an Outcomes report of how they invested United Way funds and the impact they made. Our Community Investment Committee of volunteers from the region reviews these Outcomes. This same group will review the requests for funding when we begin that process again in 2019 and determine which programs we will invest in that support our fight for health, education, and financial security for everyone in the four counties we serve for 2019-21.
Here are some of the impressive results from our 2017-18:
  • Collectively, the 24 partners and 30 programs that comprise the network of United Way of Southeast Missouri touched 32,964 lives: infants, children, students, working parents, senior citizens, and struggling individuals of all ages.
  • We helped 17,474 people in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Scott City, and Bollinger County by supporting Meals with Friends at the Salvation Army and food pantries with the Jackson Ministerial Alliance, the Scott City Ministerial Alliance, and Little Whitewater Baptist Church.
  • Our support of APPLE, the Hoover Center, Lutheran Family & Children’s Services, and the Jackson Senior Center helped more than 7,000 senior citizens remain healthier and in their own homes. 
  • Our collaborative education initiative involving numerous partners, community organizations, and businesses helped to increase the graduation rate at Central High School from 68% to 88.9% in 9 years, impressively near our 10-year goal of 90% by 2019.
  • Emergency Student Funds in public schools in Cape, Jackson, Scott City, Scott County, Perryville, Woodland R-IV, even Southeast Missouri State University enabled students in need to stay in school when financial emergencies like eyeglasses, prescriptions, a winter coat or dental care could have kept them home or caused them to drop out altogether.
  • Generous volunteers tutored 288 students in Cape and Scott City through Read to Succeed, enabling 70% to gain a minimum of one reading level, some significantly more, and most importantly, moving some students from reading many grade levels behind to reading on level with their peers.
As you can see, it doesn’t take a village. It takes everyone who fights with United Way: businesses, schools, churches, community groups, funded partners, and you. For every person in our community to be healthy, educated, and financially secure, it takes everyone to LIVE UNITED.
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We're Halfway There!

I’m continuously amazed by this community.

At last year’s kickoff event three partner agencies were chosen by volunteers to pitch mini-grant ideas to a room full of United Way donors. The introduction to this concept was a huge success, with 150 individuals contributing $2500 during lunch; so we decided to try it again in 2018.

The guidelines for the process are pretty simple: the maximum amount rewarded per project is $1,000 with the understanding the project would be an extension of or complement to the initiative United Way already funds. Additionally, last year’s recipients couldn’t apply for the same project.

Safe House for Women was this year’s first presenting partner. With their $1,000 grant, they’re hoping to provide “safe phones” to their shelter clients. The program is currently funded through Verizon, but is scheduled to end in December.

The Safe House clients utilize these phones to contact social service agencies, employers, and additional resources to help them through the process of transitioning out of the shelter.

Boy Scouts of America continues to collaborate with other organizations in Southeast Missouri. Their previous mini-grant launched a troop at Jefferson Elementary School. Now they’re hoping to collaborate with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri to bring Scouting to their after-school and summer programs.

In addition to providing students with outdoors and service experiences, Scouts proudly incorporates various STEM activities into their curriculum. These skills and experiences are ones that many at-risk youth in our community are not otherwise provided.

Finally, First Call for Help and the Community Caring Council sought funding to aid families in our community who are going through difficult times.

The Family Transition Team consists of caseworkers from our partner organizations and others who come together when all other resource options have been explored. The group ensures that clients who may need a hand up, like steel-toed work boots to begin a new job or eyeglasses to complete an application, are able to resolve their issues without further stress.

Over the last year, United Way of Southeast Missouri has been able to touch the lives of nearly 33,000 individuals, children, and senior citizens in our community. But the need doesn’t end there. The mini-grant program is our way of helping partners get a jump start on new initiatives that can further their reach and go beyond the goals of their original programming guidelines.

At Thursday’s kickoff luncheon, we were able to raise half of the $3,000 needed to fund all three initiatives mentioned above. Will you join our fight by donating just $10? Click here to make your pledge now. Thank you for Living United.

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For many months we have been diligently (and somewhat desperately) exploring ways to fund Read to Excel after learning the DeltaCorps grant that launched it last year was being eliminated.

Enter the Kiwanis to the rescue!

After we shared program data and stories of the students’ success at a recent Kiwanis meeting, this kind-hearted group chose to fund Read to Excel in its entirety! We had pared it to the bare bones, cutting it from two site coordinators to one, and reducing the number of students and reading sessions. Now, with additional help from Zonta and Cape Girardeau Rotary we are able to move forward and add back more students and sessions!

Read to Succeed, which also began with a federal grant in 2012, is designed to encourage new readers as they learn this critical skill. Read to Succeed receives significant support from individual donors and the Cape Girardeau Public Schools. Read to Excel was created at the request of many teachers to target older, struggling readers. Although it is an extension of Read to Succeed, we had to create a new program with a new name to meet the grant requirements.

As we move forward, we will roll Read to Excel into Read to Succeed, sharing the name and new logo. Not only is this less confusing for our schools and volunteers, but both programs now include students in kindergarten through sixth grade who read below grade level. We also chose to update the logo to indicate the real beauty of this program: one-to-one tutoring for students from valuable volunteers.

Our donors fund many valuable programs, which we proudly share at every opportunity. We are ‘over the moon’ to welcome both financial and volunteer support from the Kiwanis. Truly, without you this program would not be possible. Schedules for 1:1 tutoring at elementary schools in Cape and Scott City still are being formed, along with the times for Tiger Book Club at Central Middle School. Interested volunteers can still register and provide their preferences for when the schools finalize the schedules. Email Robin.koetting@unitedwayofsemo.org or call United Way at 573-334-9634.

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Last year, over 150 United Way supporters came together to raise $2,500 in less than 30 minutes. The results? Three new local programs that helped nearly 200 area youth.

Boy Scouts of America presented a proposal to donors to start a pack at Jefferson Elementary, where 9 out of 10 students qualify for free or reduced lunch. This $500 grant provided the six participating scout’s registration costs for an entire year of scouting, a troop leader, and many unique experiences to help the scouts grow in the program.

In addition to fulfilling their Bobcat Badge requirements, the youth went camping for the first time this summer, something many had longed to do. Giving back is important to this young group, and they’ve spent the year completing service projects such as cleaning up Capaha Park and sending care packages overseas to our armed forces.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri and Community Caring Council partnered to bring at-risk youth a international experience this summer. The Passport to Summer program connected roughly 115 youth to various community events this summer and to CENET, Cultural Exchange Network.  Students spent several weeks learning about the cultures of different countries, culminating with a small fair to celebrate the traditions of the countries spotlighted in the program.

Voices for Children was the final mini-grant recipient selected by our community investment committee. With their additional $1,000, they were able to start a support group for foster teens about to age out of the system. Leaving high school can overwhelm many students, especially those with no family or financial support.

The group consisted of 22 high school aged youth. Together, they went through financial coaching, developed workforce skills, improved their study habits, and built confidence as they moved into this next chapter in their lives.

United Way continuously utilizes our network of partners to build lasting solutions to the toughest problems. We’re still moved by how much work could be done for area students with just $2,500.

We’re excited to showcase three new programs at our Kickoff this August! As many of you know, the need in our community never stops, but thanks to donors like you, we’re able to make a difference for our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and peers every day.

We hope to see you at kickoff on August 23rd! Tickets are $30/person or $240/table of 8. This provides 6 seats for your group or company and 2 seats for members of our partner agencies who are excited to share more stories like these. Please RSVP to Kristin via email or by calling 573-334-9634.
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When you know the answers, which are at the end of this article, it becomes quite obvious that we simply could not accomplish all that we do without valuable help. If you’re interested, now is the time to get involved as we begin a new fiscal year July 1 and kick off our next campaign August 23.
 
Some of the changes we are excited to report for the coming year include our new Executive Committee leading our board. These members are: Tim Woodard, President (Commerce Bank); Brandy McIntire, Vice President (KBSI/Fox23); Jane Myers, Treasurer (The Bank of Missouri), and Quantella Noto, Secretary (Southeast Missouri State University). These volunteers devote a minimum of 4 hours a month to our organization, and we are grateful for their leadership.
 
We also are forming an Advisory Council of area representatives from the four counties we support who are knowledgeable in each of our focus areas—Education, Income, and Health. We won’t list all 24 of them here, but they include education administrators, city leaders, members of partner agencies we support, and former board members. Information from this group will be instrumental in guiding our Strategic Plan, which is being revised this year. You, too, are a critical part of the process.
 
A key element of our Strategic Plan is to obtain feedback from our community and those we serve. When you receive a link to a survey in the next few months, please take the time to give us your opinion. We exist to serve Southeast Missouri; we must know the needs of our citizens and how you believe we should address them.
 
This campaign and fiscal year also ends our three-year funding cycle to our current partners. Although 2019 seems far away, all too soon we will send Requests for Proposals (RFPs) open to all agencies and services that support our mission. With the help of many volunteers, we will go through the meticulous process of reviewing and ranking applications. If you are interested in helping with this process, let me know. Please forward this to potential volunteers and organizations seeking funding, so they can become familiar now with the work we do, the work our strategic plan reveals we still need to do, and what we will be looking for when the time comes to identify future partners and programs.
 
As you can see, we have a lot of excitement occurring this year, and there will be more to come! Thanks for joining us in the fight to Live United!

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School Supplies Drive!

Picture this: over 50 businesses coming together to hand out supplies and host activities; free lunch served to over 1,200 individuals; thousands of various school supplies donated by over 20 local communities; and thousands of area students going back to school prepared to do learn.

Thanks to some pretty incredible people, that vision is a reality every summer in Southeast Missouri at the Back to School Fair!

Cape Girardeau Public Schools, United Way, The Salvation Army, The Urban Kids Project, and Big Brothers Big Sisters are excited to host this event again this year on Wednesday, August 1st at the CJHS Tiger Field House from 10am-3pm.

Families can register their kiddos for free school supplies and have access to several family resources, including free immunizations and dental screenings, health insurance counseling, free food, and activities.

If your company is looking to get involved feel free to reach out to me! Many organizations set up to promote programming, offer services and giveaways, or just simply host a fun activity for kids!

It’s estimated that 1,000 families in our area cannot afford the school supplies needed for their children to confidently begin another academic year. So what can we do to help them? United Way, KFVS12, Withers Broadcasting, and Walmart plan to host the 5th annual Stuff the Bus event during Missouri’s tax-free weekend.

Boxes will be at various Walmart stores in Southeast Missouri starting Friday, August 3rd. School districts and their respective volunteers will be out from 10am-4pm on Saturday, August 4th to collect supplies (or cash) from shoppers who donate.

But why wait until August?! United Way of Southeast Missouri encourages you to start purchasing supplies now! Our office will serve as a drop-off point during the month of July for anyone who wants to collect supplies for area students. Your workplace may even be interested in hosting your own drive!

Here’s a list of some of the most commonly needed items:

  • Single-subject notebooks
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Filler paper
  • 2-pocket folders
  • Ink pens
  • Crayola 24-count crayons
  • 2-pack pink erasers
  • Bottled glue
  • Scissors
  • 3-pack glue sticks

United Way has had an ongoing dedication to students, and it’s obvious that our region is equally committed. One of the biggest challenges they face is heading back to school unprepared. We hope you’ll join us in supporting our students and ensuring they’re ready for another great year in August!

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United Way of Southeast Missouri has had a strong focus on education over the last decade. You often hear us share stories and statistics on how impactful some of our after-school programming is for the students. The need for these programs doesn’t go away when the last bell rings though. Many of our partners are hosting summer sessions that you and your children can be a part of.

Read to Succeed

United Way is thrilled to share that our Read to Succeed program will be holding a special 6-week summer session starting in June! Students entering 1st-4th grade next school year are eligible to sign up for the free sessions. Students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with volunteers in 30 minute sessions every Monday-Thursday.

This means the program is also in need of summer volunteers! More session information is available here, or interested parties can contact Robin Koetting directly.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri will host their “Passport to Summer 2018” summer camp again this year. Starting June 4th, the seven week day camp will give children the opportunity to play outside, tour places like the Arts Council and River Radio. The camp will also encourage children to work and play with their peers through fun, educational activities.

Learn more about the program and register your kiddos here!

Boy Scouts

It’s time to get weird and wacky with science! The Greater St. Louis Area Council is hosting their annual Cub Scout Day Camp again this summer at Cape County Park North. The week-long Day Camp will run from July 9th – July 13th, 8am – 3pm, with drop off starting at 7:15am.

Day Camp is open to all boys and girls in the community in grades 1-5. Boy Scouts promises to offer an unforgettable outdoor experience with activities such as shooting sports, STEM, hiking, fishing, and more! All youth entering 1st grade in the fall must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

If you have questions or are interested in registering your kiddos for the camp, contact Ashley Duerst or call 314-920-0621.

4-H

4-H Camp will be July 2-3 at Pinecrest Camp south of Fredericktown. This year’s theme is Survivor, with workshops consisting of wild edibles, line dancing, swimming, a challenge course, shooting sports, and crafts. There will also be a dance and field games.

4-H is offering quite a few opportunities for youth to stay engaged this summer! For more information contact Lesley Meier or Marsha Birk.

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We're Being Audited!

But not by the IRS. The thought of an audit puts the fear of God in many individuals and organizations, but most reputable nonprofits of any size will regularly request an audit, including United Way of Southeast Missouri. Having an objective, professional auditor review our cash flow and financial statements is just one of the many ways we work to demonstrate to donors they are investing in a reputable, trustworthy organization.

To add even more financial transparency and security of donor dollars we also:

  • Process every check request and payable/receivable through two internal staff members
  • Have a professional accounting firm manage our books (different from the auditor)
  • Ask a committee of community volunteers with accounting experience to review our quarterly income statements
  • Post our 990 on our website
  • Share our financial statements with anyone who wants to come view them.

This year’s auditor revealed:

“We noted no transactions entered into by the organization during the year for which there is a lack of authoritative guidance or consensus…We encountered no significant difficulties in dealing with management in performing and completing our audit.

In our opinion the financial statements (reviewed) present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of United Way of Southeast Missouri, Inc. as of June 30, 2017, and the changes in its net assets and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

Whew! We are rarely concerned but always relieved to have another successful audit behind us. Now we’re working on our budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1. Our fiscal mission has not changed: maintain low operating expenses and grow donations so that we can invest even more into programs and agencies that strengthen Southeast Missouri. We couldn’t do it without you. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

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I serve as a member of United Way’s Community Investment Committee, which is made up of people from area businesses and organizations who genuinely care about the community and the wonderful work United Way is doing.  This committee is unique because we only meet quarterly, yet our group plays a huge role in the way United Way works.

Many know that United Way vets funded partner agencies once every three years. It’s quite a big undertaking and always proves to be eye-opening. It’s an opportunity for members of the Community Investment Committee, United Way staff, and the Board of Directors to learn more about the specific programs applying for support.

Once applications for funding have been received and reviewed, a determination is made based on goals and projected outcomes of the particular program.  Outcomes are extremely important and are reviewed on a regular basis by the committee to determine if they are on target.  Recently, our committee worked to streamline the outcomes reporting process which we felt was a critical component to continue receiving accurate program data.

While to some it may seem like we’re requesting more detail, we have actually compared previous reporting surveys against common questions United Way stakeholders ask to ensure we capture all the information needed to share the network’s story. Some of the reporting we request from partner agencies includes:

  • Breaking down the number of families, adults, and children served by county,
  • Listing three program goals and their specific results,
  • Any changes they may have seen in the programming, including barriers, new partnerships, staffing, and more,
  • and feedback from agencies so that United Way can better serve their agencies.

United Way has been near and dear to my heart for many years.  As a former staff member serving as the campaign director, I was able to immerse myself in not only the fundraising process but also in the allocations process.  Many of the programs and services provided by the funded partners wouldn’t be possible without the funding they receive from United Way. 

The committee will begin the next funding process toward the end of this year. I invite you to join us as we review applications, visit programming sites, and determine where United Way dollars will next be invested. It’s a great learning opportunity and a unique way to be involved!

- Kim Voelker, Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce

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Have you heard of Read to Excel?!  Optional headline: How’s this for a success story?

We know we’ve talked a lot about our new grant-funded literacy program this year, Read to Excel (R2X). And now we have some exciting data that prove the success of this program, designed to help students reading below grade level.

Many of our stakeholders had the opportunity to watch this video at our Community Celebration earlier this month. In short:

  • 61% of students in the program accomplished reading growth for the first year in just the first semester of R2X
  • 61% of students in the program scored above the national average of 13.5 for the first half of the year
  • 65% of students increased reading scores by one grade level.

Additionally, teachers stated reading confidence increased in their students, and they’re showing real excitement and enthusiasm for being a part of the program. Specifically, students enjoy the one-on-one time spent with the tutors.

Cape Girardeau Public Schools is an incredible community partner. They provided us with data called Lexile growth for the students at Franklin and Jefferson elementary schools and Cape Middle School. A Lexile measure is defined as “the numeric representation of an individual’s reading ability.”

Statistics indicate that students who are not reading at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out before graduating high school. We knew it was critical to help the older students who were already a year, and in some cases, up to three years behind their peers in reading proficiency. We anticipated less impressive data for older students at the middle school; yet these students also made impressive gains. Their achievements for the first semester include:

  • 22%  of students in the program met or exceeded the Lexile Growth Goal for the year in the first semester
  • 51% of students in the program scored above the national Lexile Growth Goal of 44 for the first half of the year
  • 80% of students increased their Lexile Score.

The middle school program enhanced the school’s existing Tiger Book Club and is slightly different than our other reading programs for two reasons:

1) Students work in small groups of 4 or 5

2) These groups get to choose an age-appropriate novel to read together.

The majority of students in the program completed one full-length novel together, all while gaining confidence in their reading skills and becoming more comfortable reading aloud and with their peers. Because of the novels, students also were able to expand their vocabulary.

As with any new initiative, we faced some challenges, including student absences, minimal reading time, and school programming conflicts. These are all things we can work out as we continue to grow what is clearly a much needed and important program.

... but we need your help!

Our DeltaCorps grant that helped us launch this program has been eliminated. We are persistently exploring a wide variety of grants and other funding possibilities to keep this program going. United Way of Southeast Missouri stakeholders have time and time again demonstrated their dedication to ensuring our students are not only graduating, but are obtaining the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. Read to Excel is contributing to both causes.

If you are willing and able to donate a little, please consider doing so here. The option to designate your contribution to Read to Excel is the drop down box on the menu.

If you have ideas for obtaining significant funds, please contact Elizabeth Shelton via email, or by calling 573-334-9634. Our office is working diligently to ensure this programming continues to be available to our students.

On behalf of all the students in Read to Excel, the Live United team, and Cape Girardeau Public Schools staff, thank you for your dedication to our programs! Because of you, we are making a real difference in the lives of these children.  

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