Strategic vision guides Trident United Way’s hard choices
BY CHRIS KERRIGAN
By now you may have heard that Trident United Way has unveiled its funding decisions for 2012-2015. We’ll invest $26 million in scores of programs that measurably help our community reach its bold 10-year goals in education, financial stability and health. That will leverage roughly another $27 million in additional resources that come into our community, for a total impact of $53 million.
We know that some may debate, line-by-line, each decision that our 200 community volunteers have made. But the discerning observer will notice something much more significant: a strategic approach to solving community problems that focuses on alignment of activities, long-term impact and measurable results.
Investing your contribution in programs run by other organizations is just one tool in the toolbox Trident United Way employs to effect long-lasting community change. Much of our work is about fostering partnerships and collaborations and making service delivery systems more efficient and effective.
Make no mistake, Trident United Way is not solving problems on its own; no organization, no matter how well-meaning or effectively run, is so endowed. Instead, we have taken a leadership role in our community, bringing together many forces for good to move the needle on the issues that prevent too many in our tri-county region from enjoying the full benefits of life in this benighted corner of the continent.
Working together in true collaboration, we can raise the high school graduation rate from 70 to 88 percent in the next 10 years, a paradigm shift for the Lowcountry that would itself reduce poverty, crime, disease and other pathologies while making sure we have an emerging workforce prepared to thrive in our ever-competitive global economy.
Already, an effort spearheaded by Trident United Way and involving dozens of important players in education has established benchmarks and divided responsibility for accomplishing this goal.
By tying together the efforts of hundreds of organizations serving hungry, homeless and financially unstable individuals and families, we can increase financial stability by 30 percent.
One United Way initiative, called CharityTracker, weaves together churches and non-profit agencies providing basic needs services to the most vulnerable individuals and families in the Lowcountry. Through CharityTracker, we’ve improved the efficiency and effectiveness of basic needs services. In 2011 alone it connected needy families with $2.8 million in resources that support financial stability. These leveraged resources are not part of the $30 million investments noted above.
Combining our voices for a healthier Lowcountry, we can increase the number of people living a healthy lifestyle by 25 percent, thereby reducing the incidence of preventable chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, and thereby control rising health care costs.
Dozens of individuals and organizations have come together as part of Eat Smart Move More, an initiative to make eating right and exercising the easy choice in our community.
In that movement, Trident United Way plays a supporting role while others lead the way. We’re less concerned with who shoulders the load or takes credit, as long as lives are changed. We’re happy to say that that is the prevailing view among our partners and collaborators in all these endeavors.
Facing ever-changing and more complex community conditions, we can’t apply 1950s strategies — or even year 2000 strategies — to today’s issues. We need to be much more strategic than simply funding nice programs. Partnership, alignment, accountability, measureable goals and a laser-focused strategic approach to solve our community’s problems — that’s the formula for regional success.
Trident United Way is committed to this hard work, to our community’s 10-year goals, and to stewarding your contribution to the most effective solutions.
Chris Kerrigan is president of Trident United Way.