United Way of Salt Lake receives $200,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant

December 19, 2012
Author: Elizabeth Garbe

Grant will create opportunities for early learning in South Salt Lake

 

Salt Lake City, Utah - United Way of Salt Lake has been awarded a Roadmaps to Health Community Grant of $200,000 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to ensure children enter school ready to learn, leading to higher rates of academic success and better health outcomes.

The grant will support a multifaceted approach that includes educating business, education, and government leaders about the benefits of high quality early learning; supporting legislation to implement high quality preschool programming for at-risk children; and using data to promote statewide high quality standards and a sustainable financing model in order to serve more children.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded Roadmaps to HealthCommunity Grants to 18 coalitions across the United States to improve the health of those communities. These alliances aim to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play. In its second year, the Roadmaps to Health grants now support a total of 30 state and local coalitions made up of leaders from government, business, education, health care, public health, and community organizations. United Way of Salt Lake’s Early Learning Network is a coalition made up of key community leaders and partners representing multiple sectors of the community. The Network was established to ensure every child enters kindergarten ready to learn in the City of South Salt Lake.

While South Salt Lake (SSL) is rich in diversity with over 20 languages spoken at each of the three elementary schools, this also creates challenges for academic achievement and success. More than 90 percent of SSL elementary school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. South Salt Lake residents face social and economic challenges that are among the most severe in the county, including the highest rate of poverty. Fewer than 12 percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree. Research has shown that the achievement gap in education begins before children enter kindergarten, when low-income students enter school behind their middle-income peers. By ensuring children enter school ready to learn, the Early Learning Network will improve children’s chances of graduating from high school, receiving post-secondary education, and securing a job that pays a livable wage, all of which positively impact overall health.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity to improve the school readiness of all the children in South Salt Lake through the creation of an integrated, high quality early childhood system,” said Janis Dubno, South Salt Lake Early Learning Chair, Voices for Utah Children Early Childhood and Education Senior Policy Analyst“Expanding our advocacy efforts regarding investments in and innovative financing for early education for at-risk children will bolster the sustainability of high quality early interventions, student outcomes, and ultimately children’s long term health.”

Roadmaps to Health grantees are impressive examples of leaders from multiple sectors—including public health, health care, education, faith and family organizations—working together to improve health. We hope to see more communities learning from these Roadmaps collaborations and using the County Health Rankings to create a healthier, better life for families,” said James S. Marks, MD, MPH, director of RWJF’s Health Group.

United Way of Salt Lake was among 18 grantees selected from more than 400 applicants. This year’s grantees will join 12 existing grantees to build consensus and implement policy and systems changes that address the factors we know influence how healthy people are and how long they live.

The Roadmaps to Health Community Grants are a major component of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program—www.countyhealthrankings.org—a collaboration of RWJF and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The program promotes solutions that make it easier for people to be healthy in their own communities by focusing on specific factors that affect health, such as education, employment, social support, and community safety. The grants will be managed by Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization.

 

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About the United Way of Salt Lake
United Way of Salt Lake serves individuals and families in Davis, Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties. This four-county area represents approximately 1.4 million people or about 52% of Utah's population. United Way of Salt Lake is working collaboratively in new ways to create solutions to our communities’ most serious social challenges. By bringing the right partners together to set goals, share data, track results, and align programs, United Way is transforming both lives and communities. Our goal is to advance the education, income stability, and health of our neighborhoods and communities to create opportunities so that every child succeeds, every step of the way, from cradle to career. For more information, visitwww.uw.org. Join the conversation by visiting our blog at uwslhub.org, follow us onTwitter (@uwsl), and Facebook/uwsaltlake.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter (@RWJF) and Facebook(facebook.com/RobertWoodJohnsonFoundation).

 

About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all. Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to improve the health of communities and to improve the health care system so it serves everyone. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Read or comment on our blog athttp://blog.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter (@healthpolicyhub)