Founded in 1923, United Way of Essex and West Hudson is a non-profit organization that seeks to address the root causes of community concerns by aligning resources to best meet the needs of individuals, children and families through its service area annually. We serve a population of nearly 700,000 in thirteen communities in Essex and Hudson County. Over the past 3 years, UWEWH has developed a Community Impact Plan that prioritizes the creation of and investment in strategic collaborations to address UWEWH’s 10-year goals in education, income and health. UWEWH’s 10-Year Education Goal: Cut in half the number of dropouts and increase the graduation rate to 87%.
United Way of Essex and West Hudson aspires to become the local summer learning experts, working with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to become qualified Comprehensive Assessment Summer Program (CASP) trainers. The assessment will build capacity for summer learning programs in Newark to increase program quality and evaluation, and provide training in the development of program goals and measurements. Trained CASP assessors from UWEWH have already completed assessments with New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJ LEEP), Rutgers Future Scholars, R U Ready for Work Rutgers, and NJIT to improve their quality programming and spread their best practices with others. We also provide capacity support through on-site technical assistance for these programs. The next steps are to provide CASP assessment training for 3-4 staff from each of these programs, so then can assess other programs. This plan creates high standards across Newark for summer learning programs as well as deeper connections and shared resources. We have also joined forces with Work with local stakeholders to establish a community wide collaborative that builds a summer learning system that build vertical and horizontal alignment among programs.
SUMMER READING CORNERS
United Way of Essex and West Hudson in partnership with 211 Community Impact and the Reading is for Life Coalition hosted the Summer Reading Campaign “Summer Reading Corners”. The initiative aimed to change the lives of the children in Newark by reading aloud and bringing activities to them in their communities, parks, and neighborhoods. The corners were set up in five Newark neighborhoods this past summer between July 12 and August 9. Targeted at children up through the sixth grade, Summer Reading Corners actually put down a carpet in a corner of the community space and invite neighborhood children to listen to volunteers read to them, and join in on longtime favorite games like dodge ball and hopscotch. The Reading Corners are a part of a larger strategy to encourage summer learning and reading and promote a city-wide focus on literacy.
BACK TO SCHOOL PARENT SYMPOSIUM AND BACKPACK GIVEAWAY
UWEWH aspires to create opportunities for Parents to feel safe and comfortable advocating for and receiving the support they need to support their children in education. Ultimately, we want to shift the culture of community (especially current parents of school-aged children) to one of accountability and mindfulness of the importance of education. To that end we provide back to school resources for children in Essex and West Hudson Counties, as well as education for parents through our Back To School Parent Symposium and Back Pack Give Away. A maximum of three backpacks is provided to every parent who attends, as well as essential information and strategies for a productive school year.
Celebrity Read is United Way’s long-standing event celebrating individuals from all walks of life who wish to model their love of reading and the pursuit of education as a pathway to success. For the past 21 years, Celebrity Read’s goal has been to strengthen the literacy skills of young children. We believe that everyone can be a "celebrity" in the life of a child and through this event, we encourage adults to be positively engaged with our communities' youth by becoming Celebrity Readers. The Kick-Off Breakfast signifies the start of a month long initiative, where readers visit a school site for a morning or afternoon, read an age-appropriate book to the students, and explain the importance of reading in their life and career. Celebrity Read proudly recruits over 200 volunteers and works with nearly 10,000 students annually.