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Breaking the Cycle of Childhood Poverty

Our Goal

17% of Lincoln County residents live in poverty. In Benton County, it's 23% - almost one in four. This is unacceptable. Our goal is to significantly reduce the level of childhood and family poverty in our communities. United Way is taking a stand: to fight against Childhood Poverty—to break its cycle—and create instead a cycle of family stability and upward mobility. We’re fighting for a future that will be happier, healthier and provide more opportunity for all of us.

Our Strategy

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In 2015, United Way initiated an ambitious multi-year funding cycle to work "upstream" - preventing people from falling into poverty, and giving them the tools to pull themselves out. 

Working collaboratively with many agencies, and making targeted investments, United Way is focused on four priorities:

1.     Childhood Success: Supporting kindergarten readiness in youth and increasing access to quality childcare and out-of-school care for children and youth.

2.     Youth Success: Supporting academic success in youth, especially during periods of change and instability.

3.     Economic Mobility: Preparing young people for self-sufficiency after completion of high school or post-secondary education.

4.     Financial Literacy: Increasing individual, or family knowledge about financial management; connecting families to available long-term financial resources; and creating systems to help families achieve financial stability.

Why United Way?

United Way of Benton & Lincoln Counties is uniquely positioned to lead this fight against tough community-wide problems, because we have a decades-long history as a mobilizer of resources. Our mission is “to increase the organized capacity of people to care for one another.” The material focus of this is “organized capacity.” That is, the coordinated ability to get things done, to make progress, to be the game-changers.

In addition to strong relationships within the social services community, we also have healthy partnerships in the private and public sectors. United Way works with anyone who can help, serving as a backbone organization to mobilize and leverage resources. Meanwhile, we continue to amplify the work of our direct-service partners, helping keep them connected with wider networks as they focus properly on the populations they serve.

United Way is known for surrounding a community’s most critical problems, and although change doesn’t happen alone, it does need a system leader as well as a cheerleader. We’ve aligned our work to make the greatest impact through program investments, increased capacity for local nonprofits, and collective action.

Program Investments

We seek out, partner with and invest in direct-service non-profit programs that align with United Way’s mission and vision, and have results-based accountability. We meet need and change lives today and in the future through these strategic investments. This is accomplished through the Meeting Basic Needs funding cycle.

Capacity Building

United Way program investments strengthen youth program quality, increase cultural competency, support asset building and promote volunteerism, by providing tools, training and staff resources. To reach our goals, building capacity within the nonprofit community is critical.

Collective Impact

We convene and mobilize stakeholders on identified initiatives with a shared vision: fight against poverty and fight for those experiencing it so all young people develop to their potential regardless of income, race, ethnicity, or special needs.

2016 Breaking the Cycle Funding in Benton County

2016 Breaking the Cycle Funding in Lincoln County

Read the entire Case Statement for Breaking the Cycle here.