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.
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 programs in 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.