United Way 'changing the odds' for underprivileged kids

December 12, 2012
Author: Keith McCord | KSL

SALT LAKE CITY — 12/12/12 is a day that is being commemorated by a lot of people including the United Way of Salt Lake City. They have chosen the unique date to announce a major new campaign and the amount of money that it has already raised.

A year ago, United Way of Salt Lake started its "Changing the Odds" campaign. The original goal was to raise 12 million dollars in 12 months and to hit that goal on Dec. 12, 2012. But, they ended up raising a lot more money and exceeding that goal.

In January, United Way of Salt Lake launched the "Changing the Odds" campaign, a collaboration of business leaders, government agencies, philanthropic groups, all working together to bring in millions that will benefit Utah's young people.

"We are working to change the odds, so that kids, no matter what circumstances their born into, have the same chance to succeed in school and in life as any other kid," said President & CEO of United Way, Deborah Bayle.

United Way has set up 22 neighborhood centers, located in schools, or other convenient locations where low income families and their kids can meet with volunteers for after school programs, tutoring and mentoring programs.

"I would encourage anybody to go to the community learning centers and see what's happening and see the focus and what's happening to children who we are really changing the odds for," said CEO of Savage Services, Allen Alexander.

Alexander and his employees volunteer at the centers often, and he didn't hesitate when asked to donate a million dollars to the "Changing the Odds" campaign.

The Granite Park Junior High principal, Dr. Taran Chun, and several of his students thanked the donors today, saying the program is already working.

"We have been able to create opportunities and design programs that serve not just the students, but their families and entire communities," Dr. Chun said.

Since 1904, The United Way of Salt Lake has collected donations and distributed the money to various organizations. But, in 2001, it decided it wanted to expand its reach and become a community problem solver. They are starting with giving all children the same opportunities in life.

"And what this will allow us to do is go from cradle to career," Bayle said. "That's our goal is to make sure that our kids get the help that they need."

"Changing the Odds" has a 5-year plan to invest the money that has been raised. Most of the work currently takes place in the elementary schools, but that will be expanded to the higher grades in the future.