You may also invest in your community through United Way in other ways.
Our Mission is simple, but powerful. United Way of the Bluegrass wants to empower everyone in Central Kentucky to live their best lives.
On March 4, 1921, at a meeting in city hall, 22 Lexington organizations that were engaged in some form of social services work voted to organize the Lexington Welfare League. Many of the organizations were dependent to a large extent on the public for funds to carry on their activities; by combining efforts, they sought to achieve a unified and collaborative response to community needs.
Over the next fifty years, the name of the organization changed from the Lexington Welfare League to the Community Chest, to Community War Chest to United Community Services and finally to United Way.
Now focusing on making lasting changes in nine counties across Central Kentucky, United Way of the Bluegrass is improving lives and building stronger communities, a 90+ year old tradition that continues to be alive and well.
United Way of the Bluegrass is a leader and motivator of change for long-term solutions for Central Kentucky communities. We have a Big Bold Goal that 10,000 more families in the Bluegrass will be self-sufficient by 2020. This is a community goal and one that we can accomplish together. United Way has committed to four key pillars of success:
This change in approach has fostered a great deal of cooperation and innovation in the community. We have developed systems to evaluate the quality and success of the programs we are funding, so you can be assured your dollars will have the maximum impact on your community.
Join us and invest in your community through United Way of the Bluegrass.
"The big picture doesn't
just come from distance; it also comes from time." This quote from
Simon Sinek more than adequately describes the journey on which United Way of the Bluegrass is leading.
The Big Bold Goal of ensuring 10,000 more Central Kentucky families are self-sufficient by 2020 is our big picture. If we could wave a magic wand and help everyone today, we would - but we can't. Time is our magic wand - time along with innovative programs, passionate volunteers and resources.
United Way of the Bluegrass serves the nine-county area in Central Kentucky and your gift supports the community where you live and work. When your United Way gift is combined with the gifts of others, we turn the stories around for thousands of people in need each year- that's LIVING UNITED!
Whether you live in Anderson, Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, Madison, Montgomery, Scott or Woodford county, by supporting United Way of the Bluegrass, you're supporting the broadest package of community services available.
United Way of the Bluegrass
We have a Big Bold Goal for the Bluegrass community: 10,000 more families will be self-sufficient by 2020.
We have gathered the data we need so that we can monitor – and ultimately measure – progress against benchmarks. We mean to see that 80% of incoming kindergartners are ready to learn on the first day of school; 85% of students read at proficient or distinguished levels by 3rd grade; 90% of our 19-year-olds are college or career ready; 100% of our public schools are proficient or distinguished; that 10,000 more families are in a financial position that moves them above the poverty level so that basic needs are no longer a question – but a certainty. We will be convening community partners to determine the full continuum of data we will need from multiple sources and different levels to properly measure our success.
UWBG has established a Data & Metrics Committee, chaired by UK’s Martin School’s Dr. Eugenia Toma, to guide the community’s evaluation of the Big Bold Goal. The committee is comprised of individuals with expertise in data, analytics, and community issues. There are representatives from local universities, local government, Lexmark, Toyota, the school systems and chamber of commerce. The committee is currently working towards three outcomes:
· The review and release of community-level data that defines the BBG
· The development and monitoring of community-level metrics that will demonstrate the level of success on the BBG
· The establishment of program-level metrics that internal and external programs will use to measure success
In addition, programs funded by UWBG submit reports every six months. These reports are compiled and reviewed by masters-level students from the University of Kentucky’s Martin School and College of Social Work.
William “Bill” Farmer is President of United Way of the Bluegrass. Bill brings extensive experience in building lasting change through work in education, income and health to the Bluegrass.
Bill serves as a member of Board of Visitors of the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky. He has been appointed by the Governor to serve on the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Services. Bill is a member of the Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Initiative Advisory Council. He also serves as a member of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Department of Social Services Advisory Board.
Bill served as President and CEO of The Farmer Group, a consulting firm assisting business and nonprofit organizations in issues associated with public and social policy in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Bill’s United Way experience in multiple communities includes serving as Vice Chair of the United Way of the Capital Area Board of Directors in Jackson, Mississippi as well as several others. He has led United Way organizations in fundraising, marketing and other public policy work.
While in North Carolina, Bill served on several boards, committees and commissions, including the state's Dropout Prevention Committee as Co-Chairman, Valuing Education Committee as Chairman, New Schools Project Board of Advisors, and Commissioner on Workforce Development and Banking Commissions.
Bill previously served as Vice President of Corporate Development for Time Warner Cable. His responsibilities with Time Warner Cable included issues that effect education, economic development, workforce development, housing, healthcare, transportation and diversity. He works closely with the company’s management team and policy makers, to help shape future plans and also to maximize their contributions as a corporate entity. He is a 28-year veteran of Time Warner Cable and has been an active member of every community in which he has resided.
United Way 2-1-1 is an easy to remember, three digit phone number that connects those in need with services that can help. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, United Way 2-1-1 provides a fast, efficient and easy to use service in times of need.Last year, 23,725 Central Kentuckians called 2-1-1 for help.
Each day, thousands of Central Kentuckians search for information about health and human services such as food, shelter, medical care, substance abuse treatment, protection from domestic violence or disaster relief – the list is endless. While nonprofit and government services are ready to help, the large number of providers – with more than 1,000 different telephone numbers – makes it hard to find the right place quickly. The result is often repeated calls and frustration.
But, not anymore.
2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember phone number that connects people with the help they need. It's accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in more than 150 languages.
The benefits of 2-1-1 are obvious: providing those in the Bluegrass with a simple and centralized way to access local social service information. There are also direct benefits to companies as well. United Way 2-1-1 extends employee assistance services at no cost to the company. It provides a time-saving information resource for human resource professionals. Because 2-1-1 connects employees with solutions to personal and family issues, it can reduce absenteeism. Uninsured workers can find free or sliding scale services to help them stay healthy – and on the job. And a quick call to 2-1-1 during tax season could help employees find out if they qualify for he Earned Income Tax Credit which would mean a thirteen percent increase in their average pay.
2-1-1 touches the lives of every person in the community. Whether you are in a situation where you need help or find yourself in a situation to give help, 2-1-1 is always there. United Way 2-1-1 maintains the integrity of the 9-1-1 system, saving that vital community resource for life-and-death emergencies. And for United Way and other community organizations, 2-1-1 is a useful planning tool. Based on aggregate data about the types of calls that the 2-1-1 center receives, United Way is in a better position to anticipate demand for services and mobilize resources to meet changing needs.
The Central Kentucky Economic Empowerment Project (CKEEP) is a coalition, led by United Way of the Bluegrass, that partners with the IRS to provide free tax preparation to low-income families, raise awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit and help families build assets. Thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteer tax preparers, families are able to save their much needed money while strengthening our overall economy.
In 2011, CKEEP experienced a promising year with a 60% increase in the number of volunteers assisting with tax preparation. These volunteers completed returns for more than 2,500 families in Central Kentucky, resulting in over $5.32 million in tax refunds coming back to residents of the Bluegrass. More CKEEP filers than ever before filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which accounted for $1.9 million of the refunds.
The impact of CKEEP in Central Kentucky is significant. A recent study commissioned by CKEEP and United Way of the Bluegrass highlighted the huge impact of CKEEP refunds on central Kentucky. The "multiplier effect" explained what returning these federal funds can do for our community as a whole, not just the individuals who receive them. Individuals and families who receive refunds go on to spend this money by paying local utility companies and businesses such as groceries and clothing stores. The regional multiplier effect for CKEEP clients' tax refunds is estimated at 79 percent. This means that for every dollar CKEEP clients receive in tax refunds, they respend 79 cents in our local economy. The net local economic effect of the $5.32 million in tax refunds received by CKEEP clients in 2011 is over $10 million.
A large part of CKEEPs’ work deals with the EITC. Each year, millions of dollars are lost by hard-working Bluegrass families who do not file for their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) during tax time. That money is lost to them and the local economy. The EITC is a federal tax initiative for people who work but do not earn much money. The EITC has several important benefits, including reducing the tax burden on workers, supplementing wages, making work more attractive than welfare, reducing income inequality, and helping low-income families build assets. The EITC has become the leading federal program for boosting the income of the working poor. The IRS estimates that approximately 20-25% of those eligible for the credit do not claim it because they don’t know they are eligible for it, they don’t know how to claim it, or they don’t know where to go for assistance. CKEEP’s goal is to make eligible households aware of the credit and help them claim it without having to pay for services.
The free tax preparation provided by CKEEP and its volunteer tax preparers offers immediate savings to Central Kentuckians. This past tax season, CKEEP saved its clients at least $375,450 in tax preparation fees. By preparing and filing tax returns free of charge, each household saves an average of $150 - $300 in basic tax preparation fees or $500 if they opt for a refund-anticipation loan.
United Way of the Bluegrass is recruiting people age 55 and over with passion to make a difference in this area by becoming aTrailblazer. United Way is galvanizing people to read with elementary students, tutor middle schoolers and mentor kids who need a caring adult in their lives.
Kids spend 20% of their waking hours in school, so extra support has to extend beyond the classroom — into after school time, summers and weekends. Experts say that engaging our children — meeting them where they are, in their own learning style — is critical. Throughout their school careers, connecting them with as many well trained, supportive adults as possible, both in and out of school, can nurture their strengths and make sure help is directed where it is most needed.
Anyone with passion and commitment can help a young person achieve greater academic success. Volunteers make the difference. Research shows that caring adults working with kids of all ages — from the early years through high school — can help boost academic achievement. With a wide range of local partners, Trailblazers offers many opportunities to be an education volunteer in the time and space that meets the volunteer’s needs.
In Central Kentucky, two teenagers drop out of school every day. The two that will drop out today didn’t suddenly wake up and decide to make this decision. They have been going down a path for a number of years. Maybe even since birth. Together, we can do something about it through Trailblazers.
Being a Trailblazer can take a number of forms. Some volunteer within the school, while others work with children in the community through local nonprofit programs. Objectives run the gamut, from focusing on academic achievement, school retention to job preparation, substance abuse prevention and youth development.
The challenge is real, but United Way is well positioned to meet this need. The evidence is clear — volunteers can pave the way to academic success by reading with children, tutoring students who need extra help and mentoring young people who need a caring adult in their lives. Trailblazers can make a real impact on academic achievement.
Bank On Bluegrass is a collaborative effort between area social service agencies, banks and credit unions, and city and county governments that seeks to address the barriers to banking faced by low- to moderate- income individuals in Central Kentucky. This initiative provides free financial literacy education to low-income (<$30K) and moderate-income ($30-$50K) individuals, certification of which qualifies them to establish free or low-cost checking accounts regardless of their previous banking history or credit rating (excluding fraud). Bank On Bluegrass will help individuals establish mainstream banking relationships that allow them to save money, avoid predatory fringe financial services, reduce their risk of theft or financial emergency due to natural disaster and create a culture of financial responsibility.
More than 74,000 individuals in the nine counties served by the United Way of the Bluegrass are unbanked or underbanked. Consequently, those individuals utilize fringe financial services which deplete rather than preserve their already limited money supply. Bank On Bluegrass hopes to connect the unbanked and underbanked to mainstream banking services to help them keep more of their earned income.
In order to effectively monitor and evaluate project performance and the effectiveness of financial education, United Way of the Bluegrass has developed a comprehensive Evaluation Plan. As a learning organization, UWBG places tremendous emphasis on performance measurement, outcomes tracking and reporting, assessing community impacts, and rigorously evaluating its projects in order to continuously improve. In that spirit, the project evaluation plan will encompass the following criteria: 1) Were the project goal, strategies, and outcomes fulfilled; 2) How well did it perform from an operational standpoint (e.g. was it carried out in time, within budget, were participants and the community generally satisfied, etc.); 3) The extent to which the project contributed to long term strategic directions and outcomes (increase in use of other financial services, financial management behavior change); 4) What follow-up steps used need to be taken in the community as a result of the project.
The Bank On initiative has been very successful in other communities, particularly in this region. Bank On Louisville has reported over 11,000 Bank On accounts opened and Bank On Cincinnati has reported over 1,000 Bank On accounts opened. Bank On Bluegrass hopes to have the same level of success.
United Way of the Bluegrass is a leader and motivator of change for long-term solutions for our community. The community was brought together to determine the needs unique to Central Kentucky and consensus was reached on how to solve them, both short-term and long-term. We have committed to four focus areas to meet the needs of today and solve the problems of tomorrow:
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Copyright © 2014 Blue Grass Community Foundation
499 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507