Priorities: Education, Income, and Health

Priorities: Education, Income, and Health

In 2008, United Way agencies across the globe initiated a 10-year program to achieve the following goals by 2018:

  • IMPROVE EDUCATION – cut the number of high school dropouts in half.
  • FINANCIAL STABILITY – get 50% of low-income families on the road to financial stability and economic independence
  • PROMOTE HEALTHY LIVES – increase by 1/3 the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors

As you know, our United Way has 3 investment priorities: Education, Income, and Health.

As we shared ideas we learned that UW of Central Iowa’s Health cabinet, in partnership with other health leaders in our community, worked to discern the factors that most strongly affect the health of all people. Measures of behaviors, medical care, socio-economic status, and environment were included in the development of the Central Iowa Health Index (CIHI), which rated the population of central Iowa on what factors most reflect our health.

The CIHI ranked, in order of greatest to least, the following factors as most influential on our health, and as factors to measure:

  • Obesity
  • Poverty
  • Confirmed child abuse
  • Poor or fair health
  • Individuals with less than a high school diploma
  • Blood lead levels
  • Single parent households
  • Children with no health insurance
  • Air quality
  • Physical activity
  • Adults with no health insurance
  • Binge drinking
  • Smoking

Interestingly, over 1/3 of these factors are social factors (poverty, high school dropout, single parent households, uninsured adults and children), and at least 3 (smoking, binge drinking, physical activity, possibly obesity) are behavioral choices we can control through personal choice. (We also noted there was no factor related to mental health, oral health, or trauma.)

Overall, UW has determined its long-term goals for central Iowa and has developed a plan to measure its investment achievement targets for 2020 in numbers. Read the full article here.

As you can see, our work cuts across all these priority areas:

  • Education – investing in girls’ educational success and in women’s education through GED programs, small business development, and job training
  • Income – investing in financial literacy and career planning for girls, and in job preparation, coaching, and money management for women
  • Health – teaching girls about healthy lifestyles, nutrition, physical activity, and risky behaviors; and helping women overcome additions, receive health care, and improve mental health

What is a differentiating factor about Chrysalis investments is that we pair them with education and support to those who deliver these services: Chrysalis After-School program facilitator training and ongoing quality coaching, site visits and educational sessions for grantee agencies, and continuous community education activities through the Women’s Alliance and Chrysalis Roundtables.

This is the “value added” that Chrysalis provides to our community and to our partners. As we continue to partner with other agencies and organizations doing this important work, we look forward to developing our own “benchmarks” for how we improve the lives of girls and women in central Iowa.