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A Mentor's Passion: "I'll do anything for the kids"

December 29, 2016
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Jacob "Da Specialist" Robinson

Owner
Elevating Stylez Barbershop

 
 

B&Bevent2_edit.jpgThe barbershop has always been a place in the neighborhood where everyone can be themselves, we communicate freely and discuss current events, issues and solutions. When children visit me for a haircut, I ask them questions about life, school, and we discuss the importance of making good decisions. Over time we build a relationship and trust. Barbers' roles as community mentors are huge because young men look up to us!

A few months ago I heard about Metro United Way's new Books & Barbershops (B&B) initiative. This was around the same time that I was planning an event to provide free back-to-school haircuts for kids. I learned that Books & Barbershops is a partnership with barbers in the community that provides a bookshelf with books for children; the idea of a reading space in my barbershop was a perfect fit for me, because "I'll do anything for the kids!"

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Warmest wishes for today and the New Year

December 19, 2016
Joe Tolan

Joe Tolan

President & CEO
Metro United Way

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Dear Friends,

In this season of celebration and near the start of a New Year, I want to extend to you both my warmest holiday wishes and my sincere thanks for your past support.

The end of December also brings my retirement from Metro United Way. I'm humbled and honored to have led this organization for 15 years, connecting a dedicated group of individuals and organizations to work together to improve lives and help solve community problems.

I've been fortunate to experience the rich differences among the counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana that we serve and the caring community members who work hard to improve them. Those perspectives have given me a deep respect for the people who serve in all of our partner organizations and those who support us through their generosity in donations, like you, and with dedicated volunteer time and efforts...

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Volunteer this Holiday Season - to Help Others and Yourself Too!

November 28, 2016

The holiday season is here - and with it are opportunities to spend time with family, take days off work and, often, a greater sense of wanting to help those in need. So the holidays should be a great time to volunteer, right?

Actually, volunteering ANY time of year is a great idea and makes its biggest impact year round. But, if you are motivated to volunteer this holiday season, we have a list of great opportunities for you to give back to kids and families in our community - HOLIDAY VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES

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Reading With Kids - Act of Love, Security and Belonging

November 01, 2016
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Carrie Gerard

Executive Director
Eastern Area Community Ministries

 

 

thecolorsofus_edit.jpgI was online buying books in less than a minute after I saw Metro United Way's Facebook post about the Books & Barbershops initiative. My happiest parenting moments have been snuggling up with my boys and sharing a story. Likewise, some of my fondest memories are of me curled up in the lap of one of my parents and listening to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or one of the Narnia books. My hope is for every child to experience that.

The very first book in my shopping cart: The Colors of Us. My oldest son and I must have read that together a thousand times. Such an important book for a peachy, freckly, somewhat splotchy mom to read to her creamy, latte'-toned, flawlessly smooth-skinned toddler. No two people are exactly the same color. And the complexion descriptions are endless! But they are all beautiful. And no one flavor or shade is better than the other.

This was a refrain and understanding that we lived, breathed and believed in our household from the moment Ethan came home. As a family, we were never going to "be the same." Other people who looked at us would always know that our family was different. Ethan wasn't going to have my nose, or my eye color and obviously not my hair. But we were all going to have the same understanding: the color of our skin doesn't define our place in the world.

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What is LINC?

October 19, 2016
Tiara Volpe

Tiara Volpe

MRI Technologist
Jewish Medical Center East

 

 

What is LINC? This is the question that came to mind when I was invited to the LINC event at Copper and King's Distillery in November 2015. While the acronym stands for Lead. Impact. Network. Change., it was not until I attended the LINC event that I truly understood what it meant. It's an ambitious endeavor calling on young professionals to first understand the needs of our community and then band together to enact change.

There is so much to love about LINC events. Every one that I have attended has an incredibly fun atmosphere that sets the stage for young professionals to network in a relaxed environment. The events are free and attendees can enjoy complimentary cocktails and appetizers. The best part is seeing so many wonderful people coming together to serve our community and have a great time while we're at it!

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Louisville, Kentucky named one of six Culture of Health Prize winners

September 27, 2016
Joe Tolan

Joe Tolan

President & CEO
Metro United Way

 

CradletoCareer_Screenshot.pngFounded in 1917, Metro United Way (MUW) is proud to serve a city that is now recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for its culture of health. And, we are very proud to play a key role in several initiatives that helped our community win this distinguished prize.

Education is MUW's top priority, but we know that quality education leads to better income and a healthier life. RWJF defines health in the broadest possible terms, also recognizing that many things, including better education, lead to better health. MUW leads two major collective impact initiatives to improve the quality of education for our city's children. At the request of Mayor Greg Fisher, we have served since 2014 as convener for the Ready for K Alliance, the early care and education pillar of Louisville's new Cradle to Career pipeline. In this role, we are bringing together key stakeholders in academia, government, business, and philanthropy to increase kindergarten readiness across the city so that our kids get a stronger start on lifelong learning and success in life...

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We're About One Word: Readiness

September 19, 2016
Angie Ditsler

Angie Ditsler

Director of High School Graduation Initiatives
Metro United Way

 

When I joined the High School Graduation team at Metro United Way (MUW) two years ago I remember hearing the phrase "we must improve the high school graduation rate!" repeated many times. Naturally - and because MUW has trained me well - I turned to the data to see for myself if this is true. While there is certainly room for improvement I was surprised to learn that Jefferson County Public School's (JCPS) high school graduation rate is nearly 80% and Kentucky boasts one of the ten highest graduation rates in the country.

I wondered if improving the graduation rate alone was where we needed to be focusing our energy. If so, I reasoned, then academics and test scores seemed like a logical focal point. However, I dug deeper and discovered that the "Graduating College/Career Readiness Rate" was certainly nothing to boast about. In JCPS that indicator stands at only 63%. Why such a big gap? I wondered. And how in the world is this community going to work together to close it?

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Enter out-of-school time (OST) programs. Metro United Way and our partners in this work, JCPS and Louisville Metro Government, believe strongly that OST programs have a major role to play in closing the readiness gap.

"How?" you ask. Simple.

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Hope in Place of Hopelessness

August 15, 2016
Joe Tolan

Joe Tolan

President & CEO
Metro United Way

 
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We are living in very challenging times. The growing number of horrifying acts of violence here at home and abroad generates strong emotions, including anger and fear. Many of us believe that a major contributing factor is the sense of utter hopelessness that some individuals and families chronically feel.

As all of this is on our minds, a frequent question many of us ask ourselves is "WHAT CAN I DO"?

If you are a supporter of Metro United Way through volunteering, advocating or donating, we want you to know that you are doing a lot right now as a valued partner of ours. Your support and involvement is touching thousands of lives every day in our community...

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Playing with Worms Helps School Readiness!

July 18, 2016
LisaBranstetter

Lisa Branstetter

Early Childhood Specialist
Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C)

Robin Schotter

Robin Schotter

Communications Manager
Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C)

When you think about school readiness, not very often would you also think about worms. But developing school readiness skills is exactly what the children at the Dorman Preschool Center in Shelbyville, Kentucky were doing on the day their director brought in a bucket of worms for them to explore!

 

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Immediately the children showed curiosity in the worms as they explored what the worms could do, how they looked, what they felt like and how they moved in the dirt and across the table. One child became interested in laying the worms in various shapes to make letters. She started with an "O" but quickly realized she could make an "L" and a "Z." She then wanted to make an "A" and realized she needed another worm and had to ask another child for one of his. In this one experience, she identified letters, expressed her needs and wants, attended to tasks, worked well alone, showed curiosity and motivation to learn, and spoke in a five to six word sentence - all skills identified by Jefferson County Public Schools as ones children need to be ready for school...

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Summer Programs = Big Part of Youth Success

July 11, 2016
Ji Ji El Masri

Ji Ji El Masri

Out-of-School Time Data Manager
Metro United Way

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For many young people, summertime is an opportunity to play, explore, and have fun outside of the confines of school walls. We adults know that there's a little more to it than that! Summer is an essential opportunity for youth to have experiences that enrich and complement the school year and promote learning and development.

Unfortunately, we also know that not every child has this opportunity. As school doors close, many children struggle to access learning opportunities, and without these ongoing opportunities to acquire knowledge and practice essential skills, children fall behind over the summer months, a troubling reality referred to as the "summer slide."

Students typically score lower on tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on those same tests at the beginning of summer. And while most students experience some learning loss during the summer, this loss is far greater for low-income students, who lose more than two months' worth of math skills and reading achievement over the summer months. When this pattern continues throughout the elementary school years, lower income youth fall more than two and a half years behind their more affluent peers by the end of fifth grade...

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