United Way Collective Impact Initiative Working Within Union County Communities

There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go farther, go together,” which also describes United Way of Greater Union County’s “Collective Impact Model” initiative. The successful implementation of the Collective Impact Model relies heavily on gathering key people within a designated township, who have the same interest and want to work together towards a common goal of improving the lives of families in the community.

In order to go farther in its mission to strengthen families, UWGUC recognizes it is incumbent upon community stakeholders to work together in solving real issues.  This proactive approach to address, while collecting and examining the staggering data, uncovered specific symptoms for many issues some of our most vulnerable families, in Union County, are facing.  As a result, UWGUC has initiated several forums and meetings designed to discuss ways to uniquely devise a realistic approach to helping vulnerable families in various municipalities.

Borough of Roselle, New Jersey
Since spring of 2014, UWGUC has participated in meetings with several of Roselle’s leadership including Mayor Jamel C. Holley and Superintendent, Dr. Kevin West, to discuss issues such as youth education, community health, and unemployment. Several additional stakeholders were invited to participate in the meetings resulting in the planning of a community forum called “Changing The Odds For Children & Families” that will be held December 2, 2014.  This forum will focus on the unique needs of the residents of Roselle, while providing valuable resourceful information to the community.  The intent of the forum is to solicit the input from residents about how to address and solve some of the issues as identified by UWGUC Community Needs Assessment. The forum will highlight important data specific to Roselle, while mandating the kind of community residents would like to live in.  The process is for everyone to participate in making that kind of community a reality by bringing forth positive change. 

In addition, the forum will host a resource fair and gather several community-based organizations and city departments to distribute information about resources available to families and the community.  All residents are invited to attend and get as much information as possible to help improve their quality of life.

Plainfield, New Jersey
UWGUC’s specific approach in Plainfield has led to a mobilization of community leaders including, principals, guidance counselors, nurses and key staff members from area schools, while reaching out to the Clergy and others to work together to resolve the aforementioned issues. The focus will be on working with schools, starting with the Evergreen School, to identify students and their families in need of additional supportive services so that the students can achieve better grades and have a successful educational experience.