Blog Home > Archive (April, 2018)

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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