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Community Assessment Report
We have all read the unfortunate statistics. Mississippi, the state in which we live, work, grown, learn, and play, generally ranks 48th, 49th or 50th in the nation in education, financial health, and physical well being. But United Way of South Mississippi, and our thousands of donors, volunteers, and advocates are here to say that it doesn’t have to be this way!
This summer, we conducted an in-depth examination with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of how South Mississippi compared to the rest of our state and nation regarding education, income, and health. Yes, we ranked low where we wished we had ranked higher, and vice versa.
However, the study delivered one key fact over and over again: EDUCATION is a critical part of the solution to every quality of life concern in South Mississippi. In particular, if we as a community of diverse partners and resources focus on early childhood education, school readiness, quality childcare, and mentoring, we can change the landscape of our community in countless ways. Education’s tie to economic development and the future of our state and region are clear. The business, non-profit, and public sectors must act now, and we must act together as an army for change.
Findings from our research, our partners, and dozens of community listening sessions have led United Way of South Mississippi to a recommitment to education and school readiness. We will increase funding, build collaborative workgroups, seek new grants, and focus our volunteer center on mentoring and other opportunities that will make a difference in the lives of our children.
United Way of South Mississippi’s Board of Directors has chosen to invigorate our concentration on education programs, in addition to remaining steadfast in our support of local income and health initiatives. This is changing the way our organization does business in exciting ways. We will stop putting Band-Aids on our problems by supporting as many nonprofits as we can; we will instead focus on improving the root cause of a problem, and we’re beginning now with early childhood education.
Join the movement to make sure our children go to school ready to learn! Here are a few ways:
• Support United Way of South Mississippi by conducting an educational employee campaign, giving employees the ability to give to their maximum through payroll deductions, and also consider giving a corporate gift.
• Establish a donor advised fund through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation with the interest supporting school readiness initiatives.
• Join the Gulf Coast Business Council and get involved in its Education Committee.
• Learn more about the Blueprint Mississippi education initiative, Mississippi Building Blocks.
• Find an education-focused volunteer opportunity through the United Way of South Mississippi Volunteer Center.
• Read the 2012 community needs assessment here.