New United Way initiative targets two of the region’s most challenged neighborhoods

Paul Logli Strong Neighborhoods

Paul Logli announces the new Strong Neighborhoods initiative during United Way's 2014 Community Campaign kickoff event.

 

(Rockford, Ill. - 09/19/2014) – Two of the region's most challenged neighborhoods have become a focal point of United Way of Rock River Valley's new Strong Neighborhoods initiative, which will direct new services and programs to Ellis Heights and Midtown neighborhoods beginning this fall. The place-based strategy will strengthen United Way's overall effectiveness and dramatically improve the quality of life for the region.

"Our donors and residents are demanding more of United Way's impact on the community," said Paul A. Logli, CEO/President of United Way of Rock River Valley. "We know strong neighborhoods make a strong community, and our place-based strategy will help our children succeed and families get stronger."

The average household income of both neighborhoods is nearly half the $51,581 average in Winnebago and Ogle counties and the poverty level rate is twice that of the City of Rockford. The plan to overcome obstacles such as these in the neighborhoods is holistic, focusing on school readiness and early grade reading skills of the youth in the neighborhood; on the income stability of adults and families in the neighborhood and on the overall health and safety of every resident.

A newly assembled United Way Community Impact Team has already begun work in Ellis Heights and Midtown. The team is, first, listening to the residents and learning about their challenges and aspirations. Next, United Way team members will deepen relationships and build upon existing neighborhood assets. Then, together with community partners and neighborhood residents, United Way will identify solutions, establish measurable goals, and begin to knock down obstacles one piece at a time.

Both neighborhoods will see an increase in programming and services, some this fall and more by the fall of 2015, initiated and funded by United Way. Currently in place is a partnership with the Rockford Housing Authority, YMCA of Rock River Valley, and Youth Services Network to expand an existing Walking School Bus program, which provides an adult-supervised, safe walking route for children attending neighborhood schools. United Way is also adding Ellis and Kishwaukee elementary schools to its I READ volunteer reading mentor program, which helps kindergarten students to read proficiently by fourth grade.

Achieving this plan will require time and the aligned efforts and resources of every individual, organization, and sector in the community. In order to sustain both the Strong Neighborhoods initiative and investments in traditional community programs that support the education, income and health of our region, United Way announced during its recent 2014 Community Campaign kickoff event a five-year effort to raise $30 million in resources.

"Our community challenges are deep but no matter the amount of obstacles, every neighborhood has existing strengths and assets," said Logli. "Working alongside neighborhood leaders, good parents, wise grandparents, dedicated teachers, and local businesses, United Way will build upon those existing assets in the neighborhoods."

For more information on United Way's Strong Neighborhood initiative, contact Linda Sandquist, Vice President of United Way of Rock River Valley by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley advances the common good in Winnebago and Ogle counties, creating opportunities for a better life by focusing on education, income, and health. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.