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The United Way of Rock River Valley is proud to announce financial support to the Open Access Child and Family Counseling program at Ellis Elementary as part of our Strong Neighborhoods Initiative. We are happy to partner with Rosecrance in sustaining a program that is vital to the success of Ellis’ students and their families.

For a moment it seemed like the program would be shut down, but because of YOUR donations the United Way of Rock River Valley was able to keep this program open for the remainder of the school year. The Open Access program focuses on improved student behavior, family/school relationship building, and decreasing crisis intervention. It is with great pride that we help fund a program that has seen:

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A great day at the Strong Neighborhood House on 8th Avenue. A celebration of MLK a little late, but always on time.

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In December of 2017, I traveled to the country of Ghana in West Africa. My week-long trip was amazing for a number of reasons. One of the highlights was visiting the capital city of Accra, and stopping into the offices of United Way of Ghana!

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Some Rockford employers have difficulty filling positions. And yet nearly 1 in 4 residents in the Ellis Heights neighborhood on Rockford's west side are still without a job. Some lack the skills and education for available jobs but others simply do not have the resources necessary to find employment. There are few opportunities within the neighborhood itself. And to even find a suitable job, one needs to travel to job fairs or have a computer and the skills necessary to effectively find and apply for jobs. A United Way Strong Neighborhoods job fair program helped bridge the gap to get residents into the workforce.

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Every year, drug manufacturers and health insurance companies negotiate the coverage of each medication on the market. Sometimes, the insurance companies decide they will no longer cover a drug that they have covered in the past. If you anticipate losing insurance coverage on one of your prescription medications next year, our partners at FamilyWize Community Service Partnership say to not panic.

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United Way of Rock River Valley is hosting a Santa's Workshop on Thursday, December 14th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm for the students and families of Ellis Elementary School. This event will reward families at Ellis Elementary School for attending various family engagement activities throughout the school year. 

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As many of you know, I am a die-hard Illinois football fan and my wife will tell you that my decked-out Fighting Illini trailer is just one example of my obsession. Illinois memorabilia adorns my office, I sport a large orange and blue wardrobe, and, for years, I have been a faithful season ticket holder.

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This is the final installment on the Thinking of End of the Year Giving series.  I hope you've come in from the cold (actually it's beautiful outside), finished up holiday shopping (there are still 24 days left ), and are considering how your monetary gifts can help those in need.

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As the air turns cooler and the days grow shorter, our minds quickly turn to the final three months of the year, with thoughts of family gathering around the dinner table over Thanksgiving and then quickly turning to the writing of wish lists and the ensuing rush of gift buying for the holiday season. One item on your end of year to do list which may outlast a stylish sweater or the latest electronic gadget may be to contemplate making charitable donations before the calendar ushers in year 2018.

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Last week I gave you the first 3 of 9 things you should consider when making end of year donations.  Consider these additional strategies for your charitable dollars as you slide that turkey into the oven and keep your fingers crossed that the gravy doesn't turn out lumpy.

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It's that time of year again! We're seeing holiday decorations at the mall and, along with the catalogs piling up in our mailboxes, come the end-of-the-year solicitations from charitable organizations. While I would encourage you to give to United Way of Rock River Valley, we at United Way commend each and every nonprofit working hard to make a difference in our Rockford, IL community and we think their cause also deserves consideration for your charitable giving. 

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United Way of Rock River Valley is more than just a fundraiser — we are a community leader. We lead the hand-raisers and the game-changers when we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every neighborhood.

Who are the hand-raisers and the game-changers? They are donors and volunteers who understand that we're stronger together than we are alone.

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There are years when a tax deduction can be really helpful. As we go through life, our little deductions grow up and move away, the house gets paid off, and our income likely increases. The result is paying higher income tax bills. If you are in this situation and are charitably inclined, consider establishing a Donor Advised Fund (DAF).

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Labor Day is a tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well being of our country. To celebrate the day, Rockford United Labor will host the 65th Annual Labor Day Parade on Monday, September 4, 2017 in downtown Rockford. The parade will start at 10:00 a.m. The Parade begins at 6th Avenue and 7th Street, turns west on East State Street, turns south on Wyman Street and ends at Davis Park. The reviewing stand and bleachers will be located outside the E.J. "Zeke" Giorgi Building on Wyman Street. This year's Grand Marshall is Russell McClain and the theme is "Right to Work Hurts All."

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I just heard an interesting segment on NPR on my way back from lunch. The reporter was talking to a few folks on the best way to donate to the ginormous relief efforts needed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. They said you can make sure your donation gets where you want it to by taking the time to check Charity Navigator, Guidestar, etc.

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I'm excited! United Way of Rock River Valley is unveiling new branding...and I love it. It's direct, emotional, and a little bit gritty. It tells the story of United Way.

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