At United Way we aspire to create a healthy community where all kids graduate high school and individuals and families are financially stable. Recently, our work in the community has been recognized as a possible model to implement statewide and in the Midwest.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional Director Kathleen Falk visited our
United Way 2-1-1 call center to see firsthand how our information and referral specialists effectively and efficiently handle health-related calls.
Director Falk was particularly impressed with how our United Way 2-1-1 directs callers to Affordable Care Act enrollment assistors. United Way 2-1-1 Director Diane Gatto and I met with Falk to share best practices for replicating our efforts throughout Ohio and region five (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), which she represents.
United Way 2-1-1 remains an essential asset to the Greater Cleveland community. We connect our neighbors to health-related resources, but also provide referral to government and social supports. In 2013, our 2-1-1 information and referral specialists answered nearly 300,000 calls for assistance. The top request was and continues to be for food and housing needs.
Our work in education was recently spotlighted by Governor Kasich. It started in February with his State of the State speech (start watching at the 38:58 mark). The governor thought enough of our work to use United Way as an example of community organizations making efforts to increase graduation rates. He specifically recognized our partnership with CMSD to implement wraparound strategies in 17 schools.
Last month, Governor Kasich chose Anton Grdina, one of our 17 schools, as the site for his ceremonial bill signing. He and several students signed the Community Connectors Bill that invests $10 million in community-based mentoring programs.
The bill was modeled on our wraparound strategies involving agency partners, organizations and the entire community in helping our kids graduate. I was honored when he asked me to serve on the advisory committee which will help implement this important strategy. We thank Governor Kasich for using our work with CMSD as a model to help kids throughout Ohio succeed in school.