United Way of Salt Lake honored for innovation

April 30, 2013
Author: Utah Business

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United Way of Salt Lake is among three affiliates worldwide to receive the United Way Common Good Award for Innovation — one of the organization’s highest honors — for its efforts to dramatically change the delivery of early education in Utah.

The three awards, Innovation, Impact and Turing Outward, were designed to recognize partnerships that strengthen and advance communities through innovative practices that are achieving results and making measurable impact in education, income and health.

United Way of Salt Lake was recognized, along with United Way of Greater Cincinnati for Impact and United Way Mumbai for Turning Outward, at the United Way Staff Leaders Conference April 18 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL) was recognized for innovation in early education programs in South Salt Lake. Together with the City of South Salt Lake and Voices for Utah Children, UWSL created the Early Learning Network whose efforts highlight the crucial need for improved access to early learning opportunities in the community.

“By building partnerships with businesses, cities, government, schools, churches, foundations and nonprofit organizations, we have truly developed a deep understanding of our community’s needs,” said Deborah Bayle, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake. “Together we have not only been able to drive change in education, income and health, but we have also achieved meaningful and measurable results. We are literally changing the odds for kids and their families in the neighborhoods where the needs are the greatest.”

Thanks to the efforts of United Way of Salt Lake and the Early Learning Network, many additional children have been able to attend high-quality preschool based on the Granite School District model at the Hser Ner Moo Neighborhood Center, and on location at two elementary schools in South Salt Lake. Most of the high-risk students who have participated in Granite’s preschool have closed the achievement gap and are learning on grade level with their peers.

“This award represents the best of what we are seeing in collective impact in our local communities around the world. Bringing the community to the table and creating a plan to get results — now that’s how we move forward together,” said Darren Walker, vice president of education, creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation.

This year, UWSL was instrumental in developing SB71, High Quality Preschool and Results-Based Financing, sponsored by Senator Aaron Osmond, to improve access to early learning using a sustainable financing model: Private investors would make the initial investment in early learning programs and would be reimbursed by the state, with interest, from savings achieved if programs were successful. While the bill was not passed out of the senate, the effort garnered significantly more support from the media, legislators and much of the community than similar policy efforts in the past.

Bayle accepted the Common Good award on behalf of UWSL at last week’s conference. United Way of Salt Lake’s executive management team also delivered a featured workshop presentation on its new collective impact business model to hundreds of attendees.