Our Work

Agenda for Community Change

Our goal at United Way is to create long lasting impact. We look beyond temporary fixes to attack the root problems affecting the south Mississippi area.  It’s work, yes, but it’s also our mission.  It’s our calling.

We envision our community where children are born into stable families and supportive environments, start school ready to learn and graduate prepared for college, work and life. When our people can be attheir best, our community can be at its best.  That’s good for everyone!

Our community is stronger when children start school ready to succeed, become grade-level readers, graduate and go on to higher education.

2017-19 UWSM Early Learning Vision, Goals and Strategies

In the spring of 2016, UWSM convened a group of local business people, parents, educators, and early learning experts to determine United Way’s next steps in support of early learning and grade level reading. They reviewed and discussed data from school systems, UWSM grantees, and national studies and made the following recommendations to the UWSM Board of Directors:
The UWSM Education Vision Council recognized that to support a child’s improvement in school readiness and grade level reading there must be a multi-disciplinary approach:
Ensuring the  child’s mental and physical health
Ensuring the child meets appropriate developmental milestones
Parent engagement, education and support to nurture the child’s learning
A quality early learning environment
Opportunity to access needed services
Engaging the community and being responsive to cultural and socioeconomic diversity  
Obviously, UWSM can’t provide all these elements, but we can convene, initiate, collaborate and participate in community initiatives to make sure a multi-disciplinary effort is in place in south Mississippi. 
The UWSM Education Vision Council proposed and the Board of Directors approved the following Goals and Strategies for United Way activities in the next two years.
Goal 1: School Readiness: children 0 -5 meet developmental milestones and are assessed to be ready to for kindergarten or to progress to the next level of pre-K education.
Goal 2: Grade Level Reading: students in grades K-3 successfully transition into the next grade with appropriate reading skills by the end of the 3rd grade.
Goal 3:  Summer Learning programs: summer learning programs that last a minimum of 3 weeks will prepare children for school or enhance reading skills for those not reading on grade level.
Goal 4: Family Stability and Support: Using two generation collaboration, families of young children will be stable and have the support needed to improve learning success for children 0-8.

Why Focus on Early Education? It's a Root Problem

A child’s brain is 90% developed by age 5

A student who can't read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time. Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.

Based on March 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school dropouts are nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than college graduates. Even when employed, high school dropouts earn about $8,000 a year less than high school graduates and approximately $26,500 a year less than college graduates.

67 percent of inmates in America’s state prisons, 56 percent of federal inmates, and 69 percent of inmates in local jails are high school dropouts.

The national average for educating a student is $12,643 per year while the annual state average cost to house an inmate is more than double that amount, at $28,323.

Why It’s Critical that the Community Support Efforts Beyond School Time

According to the first state-wide kindergarten readiness assessment in 2014, 65% of our children were not prepared for school.

The May 2015 third grade reading assessment showed that 15% of Mississippi children were not reading on grade level.

12.8% of Mississippi youth dropped out of high school in 2015 

85% of jobs will required education beyond high school by 2030

How We're Approaching these Issues

Click here to view the Community Assessment PowerPoint.

A Letter from our Board of Directors.

Click here to review the Executive Summary.

Click here to review the full report.