By: Juli Metzger—
Muncie, IN—Thousands packed onto Walnut Street in the middle of Muncie’s downtown Thursday to kick off the 2019 fundraising campaign for United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties.
This year’s goal: $1.5 million, about 5 percent more than the 2018 goal of $1.43 million. Co-chairs Damon Elmore and Liz Ludwick say the energy in the community is palpable. United Way has met goal each of the last two years.
“I could not be more excited with how everything turned out,” Elmore said. “We have a pair of bold goals,” he said. “First, ensuring children in third grade are reading at third-grade reading level by 2024. Then, raise $1.5 million to support that work.”
The event got even bigger when local musicians – Cook and Belle took the stage. The community was literally dancing in the street. Muncie’s First Thursday and area businesses benefited from the crowd-pleasing, friend-raising, fund-raising party.
The concert was sponsored by Ball State University, Magna Power Train, Vectren, Muncie Power Products, MutualBank and Ontario Systems, Ludwick and Elmore, both executives at Muncie Power Products, fired up crowd, along with Jenni Marsh, United Way’s Chief Executive Officer.
“It’s a fantastic community event that builds awareness about United Way’s work to put children on a pathway out of poverty,” Marsh said.
The campaign’s annual “Day of Action” takes place today, Friday (Sept. 6) when hundreds of volunteers – representing dozens of companies – spend the day making a difference for local non-profits and see first-hand the work that United Way funding empowers each day. The total economic impact of the nearly 850 volunteers – scattered across the county – and committed to 2,240 volunteer hours in a single day is estimated to be more than $54,000, said Marsh.
Nearly half of Delaware County households live in poverty or are one crisis away from it. It’s often a vicious generational cycle. These working families face obstacles in reaching health, education, and financial stability.
To conquer generational poverty, UWDHC has adopted the bold goal that by 2024 all third graders will be reading at grade level—the single greatest indicator of a child’s success in school and life. Delaware County’s campaign contributions will be strategically invested in local programs to help put children on a pathway out of poverty through better educational outcomes.
“By providing children with the early education opportunities they need, we are developing future economic growth, a strong workforce with employee retention, and a more prosperous community for all,” explained Elmore.
UWDHC provides free, educational resources to local families. They include bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library—a program providing children (ages newborn to five years old) with a free monthly, high-quality book—to Delaware County residents. There are almost 1,000 children enrolled in the program.
Additionally, United Way created Reading Clubs, placing passionate community volunteers in afterschool literacy clubs. Volunteers share their love of reading, while working alongside the students to improve their reading and comprehensive skills. UWDHC runs three reading clubs for third graders at local elementary schools. The interventionist clubs change the trajectory of students’ reading skills early on.
About United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties
United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties focuses its resources on education, health, and financial stability. The nonprofit fights to create lasting change in community conditions. With its bold goal to reach grade-level reading by 2024, United Way works to help children read at or above grade level by the end of their third-grade year. Learn more at InvitedToLiveUnited.org invitedtoliveunited.org.