Author: United

What is Childhood Success?

What is Childhood Success? 

If you have small children in your life, you know they are like sponges, soaking up the world around them. The first years of a child’s life are crucial to life advancement. These first couple years of life are key to the development of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral skills. Research shows that children who have access to quality early education programs are less likely to be placed in special education programs, less likely to be held back a grade, and more likely to graduate from high school. Focusing on the success of Wayne and Union residents begins with some of our youngest members.   

What Impact Does Childhood Success Have on Wayne and Union Counties?  

Childcare and pre-kindergarten education are expensive. For low-income families sending their children to pre-kindergarten (pre-k), when they are struggling to make ends meet, often feels like it does not make financial sense when they have a grandparent that can watch them for free. At United Way, we know by providing access to education before they enter preschool drastically increases their chance for success. Large cities often have many quality pre-k options for parentsHowever, in more rural communities like Wayne and Union counties, there are limited options for quality childcare. Only 21% of children under the age of 4 are enrolled in quality care programs, while 31% of children are enrolled in Union county. Wayne County is also ranked 3rd in the state for children living in single-parent homes. Even if lower-income families could afford to send their kids to a quality pre-k institution, they are not accessible in all areas in our counties.  

The state of Indiana has been making strides to offer voucher programs that make pre-k programs more affordable for lowerincome families. The state is continuing to expand these programs and offer more options for quality childcare and education. United Way of Whitewater Valley is working with nonprofits in our counties to close this gap more quickly. Investing in children this early in life gives them a leg up as they progress through their education.   

Our Agency Partners Impact  

One partner agency that is working to help close the gap in childhood success is Achieva ResourcesIf you’ve never heard about Achieva Resources, we have you covered – we wrote all about this great organization. Their EXCEL program is helping to prepare young children to enter kindergarten. EXCEL stands for Early eXperiences in Childhood Education and Learning. This program provides developmental screenings to children birth to five years old. It helps them to determine if children have developmental delays that may hinder their progress. This program gives families peace of mind and knowledge. Allowing caregivers to advocate for their children and gives them the tools they need to ensure their children will be successful in kindergarten. As a part of the EXCEL program assessment, they provide referrals and additional resources. Each caregiver also receives an age-appropriate resource bag with books and development toys. We are working to enroll every child in Wayne and Union counties in quality pre-k institutions. A program like EXCEL helps caregivers to prepare their children for formal education. 

Our Impact in 2019 on Childhood Success  

2019 was a big year for United Way Whitewater Valley. Our impact continues to grow every year and with the help of our donors. We were able to have had a large impact on childhood success. The funds we receive to support programs like EXCEL. Which are closing the achievement gap in Wayne and Union counties. We report all of this information in our global framework documents. These documents detail the impact United Way of Whitewater Valley has had year by year.   

In 2019, 422 children in Wayne and Union counties were able to gain access to early childhood programs. 365 caregivers are empowered with knowledge and resources to support their child’s learning, and 113 children were given books and reading supports. Children are the future of our counties improving their education allows them to improve their lives. Closing the achievement gap not a small task, and there are many families in need all around us. With your continued support, we can come together as a community to support our youngest residents and provide them with the resources they need to live successful lives.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Achieva Resources

Nonprofit Spotlight: Achieva Resources 

The goal of United Way Whitewater Valley is to be a catalyst for change in Wayne and Union counties. We raise funds to support the needs of our community and we work with non-profits to help meet the needs. We fund programs that support the needs of our community across four focus or target areas: childhood success, economic mobility, health access, and youth success.   

Childhood success is an area that is close to our hearts at United Way. We know that children are the future of our communities. We designate funds to programs that support early childhood success. Focusing on our youngest residents means that we can better their lives earlier. Giving them the tools, they need to succeed early in life ensures they need less support down the road. Research shows that children who have access to quality early education programs are less likely to be placed in special education programs, less likely to be held back a grade, and more likely to graduate from high school. Closing this achievement gap is one of our focuses at United Way Whitewater Valley. Learn more about our target area of childhood success by clicking here.   

Achieva Resources  

One nonprofit that is working to close the achievement gap is Achieva Resources. Their mission is to “empower children and adults with disabilities to achieve greater personal, social and economic successes through our advocacy and guardianship programs.” All people have the right to lead dignified lives. Achieva is giving residents in our community the tools they need to live independently with quality support from the healthcare system and service providers. Achieva offers the following programin Wayne, Franklin, Fayette, Henry, Randolph, and Union counties.  

  • Advocacy: Advocating for individuals with disabilities.  
  • Inclusion: Including all individuals in day-to-day activities of the community regardless of ability. 
  • Guardianship: Provides guardianship to those who are unable to make medical, financial, or day-to-day decisions.   
  • Supported Decision-Making: Allows individuals to regain or retain their rights will the support of others that they choose.  
  • Self Determination: Helps individuals take control and responsibility for their lives.  
  • Public Policy: Works closely with the Arc of Indiana on public policy for individuals with disabilities.   
  • EXCEL (Early Experiences in Childhood Education and Learning): Provides developmental screenings to children birth to five years old to determine if they have developmental delays or disabilities.  

The EXCEL Program  

One of Achieva Resource’s programs that focuses specifically on childhood success is the EXCEL program. The EXCEL program is working to close the achievement gap differently. Qualified individuals provide developmental screening to children from birth to five years old. The goal of this program is to determine if children have developmental delays or disabilities. Determining if delays or disabilities are present allows caregivers to actively prepare their children for formal education. Catching these delays or disabilities early in a child’s life allows parents to advocate and support their children.   

Once the assessments have been conducted the Achieva staff provides caregivers with referrals and available resources. Achieva Resources provides a resource bag to all caregivers that contain developmental toys and books. Resources bags give caregivers the confidence and tools to play a role in their children’s development. We would love to see every child in a quality pre-k institution, but this is not an attainable goal for all families in our communities. A program like EXCEL help closes the achievement gap differently, putting the information into the hands of parents, allowing them to prepare their children for preschool.  

Partnership and Collaboration    

The relationship that United Way of Whitewater Valley has with nonprofits allows us to support programs that align with our mission. The Achieva Resources EXCEL program is an example of this. In 2019, we gave Achieva $15,000 for the EXCEL program and $6,000 for the guardianship program. Achieva Resources used their grants to better the lives of Wayne and Union counties residents. Our partnership with nonprofits means more than just providing funds. We work to amplify the missions and messages of our agency partners. With the help of organizations like Achieva Resources, United Way of Whitewater Valley invested $73,542 into childhood success. As a result of this investment, 422 children were able to access quality pre-k education. There is a long way to go before Wayne and Union counties can close the achievement gap, but every day we are a step closer. 

Nonprofit Spotlight: Bridges for Life

Nonprofit Spotlight: Bridges for Life   

If you’ve had COVID-19 you may have been one of the people to receive a Quarantine Care Package from Bridges for Life. We are thrilled that they will be the first organization our President, Tamara Brinkman will interview as the new host for WCTV’s The Third Sector.   

At United Way of Whitewater Valley, we understand that there are many families in need of assistance in Wayne and Union counties. In 2019, Wayne and Union counties had a combined 10,500 residents living under the poverty line. Residents living below the poverty line are at higher risk for mental illness, chronic illness, higher mortality, and lower life expectancy. As a community partner, we support organizations that collaborate to better the lives of all members of our community. The funds that we distribute support organizations in our community that give life-altering aid to families in our community.   

Bridges for Life   

One of the nonprofits we support is building bridges by providing interventions that allow families to better their lives. Bridges for Life is an organization that provides social services by building meaningful professional and personal relationships with families. They provide resources to at-risk families addressing their urgent or basic needs, assessing their challenges and strengths, providing interventions that address a family’s needs, and connecting them with community providers. Bridges for Life is passionate about active participation. They work to build trust with the families that they serve, this relationship allows them to provide meaningful and effective interventions.    

We understand that to create lasting change you must begin with urgent needs before moving on to larger issues. This is exactly the kind of help that Bridges for Life offers to the families they assist. They connect families with community providers that can relieve their immediate needs. This allows Bridges for Life to create personalized intervention plans focusing on five important areas.   

The Five Key Areas   

The five areas that Bridges for Life focuses its energy on are; education, physical health, mental health, personal finance, social skills, and social skills. Within these areas, team members address things such as early childhood education, preventative health, personal health, parenting, and personal finance. These five categories are used to identify and prioritize a family’s needs. The Bridges for Life team can work with other organizations to meet those needs. They understand that needs should be met in order. By that we mean, a family is much less likely to worry about personal finances when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.   

All families have strengths and weaknesses. The mission of Bridges for Life is to identify stressors that have the most impact on a family. Identifying the problem is the first step to finding the solution. An example of this is the Quarantine Care Package Project. This program provides food and toiletries to families that are required to quarantine. The Bridges for Life team gets much-needed items into the hands of families within 24 hours of referral form being completed. There are five steps the Bridges for Life team follows.   

  1. Connections with the family are made and a member of the Bridges for Life team can begin acquiring supplies.    
  2. Volunteers begin packing nonperishable and dry foods  
  3. Once the referral is finished the Bridged of life team member connects with the family to finalize details  
  4. All the final items are packed into the care package  
  5. Finally, 3 boxes of food and one box of specialty items are delivered to the family’s door

Follow the link to learn more about the Quarantine Care Package Project. This one example of the programs available to families in Wayne and Union counties. Bridges for Life is helping to strengthen and educate families in the community. While they are focusing on building up families, we assist them by providing much-needed funds and partnerships.   

Partnership and Collaboration   

We work as a facilitator in Wayne and Union counties. We bring together stakeholders, financial support, and partnerships for all of our partner agencies. We like to think of United Way Whitewater Valley as a cheerleader and supporter of our local nonprofits. We are filling in gaps in the community by bringing nonprofits together. Our initiative More Than Words also assists some of our agency partners with their programs. In fact, More Than Words worked alongside Bridges for Life to provide fun activities for kiddos in family quarantine care packages.  

Bridges for Life is an example of a nonprofit that we have brought into the fold. The relationships we have formed in the community is one way that we support organizations exactly like Bridges for Life. We amplify their message about compassion, community, and connection. This exposure brings donors, volunteers, and advocates willing to assist Bridges for Life in their mission to provide at-risk families with an extra layer of support, so they can live happy and healthy lives. To learn more about Bridges for Life and their impact on the Richmond community click here. 

Making A Lasting Impact in 2021 with United Way Whitewater Valley

How Can YOU Make an Impact in 2021 

2020 was an unprecedented year, every month there seemed to be a different national or worldwide event, including the first pandemic in a hundred years. As we move into the New Year, each one of us is hoping for a better year than the last. How can you make this year better not just for yourself, but others as well?   

Be A Catalyst Of Change In Your Community   

When we say you can change your community, we don’t mean by winning the lottery and donating thousands of dollars. Instead, we mean taking

 an active interest in the prosperity and health of your community. This might look like volunteering with one of our partner organizations or spreading the word about an event. When you think about change the first thing that comes to mind is most likely donations. While financial support is important, your time is equally as important. Taking time out of your day to volunteer or to promote one of our partner events, is a critical way that you can support our partner agencies. We understand that time and money are limited and every ounce of support given to us is tremendously appreciated.    

Supporting your community doesn’t just benefit others it also benefits you. Volunteering in your community is good for your mind and body. It counteracts the effects of stress and anxiety. Who doesn’t need some stress and anxiety relief after the year we have endured together? Volunteering does not just benefit the others, it also benefits you! Many people feel amazing after they volunteer and they come back again and again. No act is too small to make an impact, let’s make 2021 a great year by collaborating together for our community.   

Support Your Community  

As we said before donations are not the only impact you can have, but donations and gifts are one of the key ways we support our partner agencies. As the backbone of support for our agency partners, we give them access to funds and connections. So, you might be asking yourself, how can my donation dollars have an impact at United Way of Whitewater Valley?    

We track the impact that our donor’s dollars have on Wayne and Union counties. As a donor, it can be challenging to find an organization that shows you the impact of your donation. With United Way of Whitewater Valley as the facilitator of all donations, we are able to allocate your gifts to organizations that are having the most impact.    

United Way of Whitewater Valley’ Impact in 2019  

Every year we reflect on the previous year by showing our donors the positive impact they have made. These are displayed in our Global Framework Documents. In 2019, we were dedicated to pursuing change in four specific areas, childhood success, youth success, economic mobility, and access to health. The impact our donors had on our community in 2019 was amazing and every year we strive to inspire more supporters to aid us in creating positive change. If problems are not directly impacting you, they can seem so far away. Our goal by bringing it to your front door is to inspire you to be a part of the positive change.    

In 2019 alone, our partner agencies were able to help 422 children access early childhood education, 7,410 young people participated in out-of-school programs and 5,271 people were able to access healthcare support. These are not just statistics these are real members of our community whose lives were positively impacted by our facilitation of all our donor’s funds.   

Your impact in 2021 matters. You have the ability to make a positive impact on those in your community by advocating for programs, volunteering, or donating. Each of these has a tremendous impact on those who need it most. Make this year the best year it can possibly be by impacting your community.    

Why Give to United Way of Whitewater Valley


As we enter campaign season – or as you’re looking for a new charitable cause to support in our community – you may find yourself asking, “Why give to United Way?” After all, there are plenty of causes and nearly unlimited need in Wayne and Union counties. What makes United Way the best option? Let’s dive into that… 

United Way supports programs that address early childhood education, youth success, economic mobility, and access to healthcare. These targeted areas are all equally important to us because all four must be lifted up and supported to build strong thriving communities. A simpler way to put it: there’s no one good place to start in order to improve things for the people in Whitewater Valley. For example, people often have more economic mobility if they had access to quality early childhood education – but early childhood education can be negatively impacted if there is limited access to healthcare support, if a child’s parents’ economic mobility options are stunted, and so on.  

So what does that have to do with why you should give to United Way? We’ll break it down for you. 

Collective Impact 

Sometimes a person can feel really helpless when faced with the problems we have here in Wayne County and Union County. Where do we start? How can one person get anywhere close to making an impact? That’s where United Way makes a difference – and helps YOU make a difference. Giving a donation to United Way is collaborative. Your ability to give is multiplied when your gift is combined with others. Your gift of $20 towards a cause that means a lot to you becomes $200, or $2,000, or even $20,000 when your contribution is combined with donations from likeminded individuals in the community. The impact is greater because the financial pool is larger. Your gift goes further by Giving to United Way. 


We’ve all heard those horror stories about popular charities where very little of the donated funds actually reach the intended recipients. While many charities do give most of their donated funds to the programs they promise to, the news that some charities aren’t as scrupulous as promised has made donors wary. According to Consumer Reports, there are some steps you can take to ensure your donation is going to a good charity. They recommend verifying each organization’s tax exempt status by searching on the IRS website, watching for credit card processing fees on online giving platforms, and being on guard for charity “soundalikes” – or low-rated charities that have set up similar-sounding names to charities that are trustworthy in an attempt to confuse donors. That’s a lot of work – and you, as a donor, shouldn’t have to go through all of that. That’s why United Way does it differently. 

United Way of Whitewater Valley has marshalled the resources of our communities to identify what’s needed and vetted the charitable organizations best suited to address those needs. All of these organizations are vetted for their impact, outcomes, and effectiveness. Every program meets a need, addresses a root cause of a need, and creates outcomes of change in our four focus areas: early childhood education, youth success, economic mobility, and access to healthcare. When you give to United Way, you can be sure your gift stays local and goes to the people and programs that need it most – you don’t have to choose. 


We discussed collective impact earlier and how your dollars do more when combined with all the donors who give to United Way of Whitewater Valley, but now we want to talk about the people whose lives you’re impacting. With the collective impact from all of our donors, YOU were able to improve the lives of over 21,000 people in our community. That means tens of thousands of people in Wayne and Union counties now have access to the resources they need to thrive. 21,000 people are doing better because of you – and, with numbers like that, the community as a whole starts to improve. Where else can you donate and say that you can improve the lives of thousands? 

If the reach of our campaigns, the trust in the programs we choose to support, and the force of our communities’ collective impact weren’t enough, we’ll give you three more reasons why you should give to United Way of Whitewater Valley. 

  1. It’s easy. Speak to your Campaign Coordinator to make a one-time contribution or set up regular donations through payroll deduction. You can also go straight to our PayPal page and donate there. 
  1. It’s tax deductible. Make sure you get a receipt and save it for tax season. 
  1. It stay’s local. Your donation remains in Wayne and Union counties and supports our communities where its needed most.  

We hope your question of “Why give to United Way?” has been answered and that you will join us in our mission to fight for the health, education, and financial stability for everyone in every community. Each dollar you donate will make Wayne County and Union County better for thousands of people. Join us and encourage your friends and family to join us, too. 

Agency Partners

We are proud to partner with these agencies this year. Click on each logo to learn more about them. 


Helping individuals with disabilities lead fulfilling lives. 

Birth to Five
Helping build strong families.

Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County
Helping children reach their full potential.

Centerville United Methodist

First United Methodist

Every Child Can Read
Helping children with school readiness.

Girls Inc
Inspiring all girls to be smart, strong, and bold

Independent Living Center Providing accessibility to individuals with disabilities.

Oak Park Early Learning
Helping children learn to love learning

Building a healthy spirit, body, and mind for all