United Way is leading a place-based strategy that will dramatically improve the quality of life for our children and families because strong neighborhood make a strong community. Two of the region's most challenged neighborhood have become the strategic focus of this plan.

Ellis Heights and Midtown District neighborhood in Rockford will see an increase in programs and services initiated and funded by United Way.


Neighborhood Initiatives: Working Together

Together with neighborhood residents and community partners, United Way is developing a common agenda in both Ellis Heights and Midtown District. A collective impact approach will allow us to assess neighborhood assets and needs, find solutions, and identify metrics in order to evaluate impact.

We have formed a Community Impact Team that will serve as "boots on the ground" in each neighborhood, developing authentic relationships with the residents and learning about their dreams for a better life.


Assets and Strengths:

From capable neighborhood leaders, good parents and wise grandparents, to dedicated teachers, and business entrepreneurs, every neighborhood, no matter how impoverished, possesses existing strengths and assets. United Way will build upon these assets in the neighborhood while developing long-term solutions for positive impact.


Current Programs:

Walking School Bus Program - United Way is partnering with Rockford Housing Authority, Winnebago County Health Department, YMCA of Rock River Valley, and Youth Services Network to provide an adult-supervised, safe-walking route for children attending neighborhood schools.

United Way I READ - United Way is expanding its volunteer reading mentor program to kindergarten students attending Ellis and Kishwaukee elementary schools.


More Information

> One-page summary of findings from our neighborhood research

Engagement Findings Report

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For thousands of area youth, middle school is the defining moment in their lives. See how United Way and its partners are creating a movement to help middle school students achieve success. Visit

Parents or guardians of children ages birth to five who are residents of Meridian CUSD #223 can register for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library today!

Don't wait another day. Call 2-1-1 to connect with information on counseling programs and support groups to help you reestablish safety and independence.

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