Bold Goals Set to Insure a Stronger Community
United Way of Summit County is looking to the near future by setting up four “Bold Goals” to meet by 2025. So far, the organization is on the road to meet them. The goals include empowering elementary and high-school children to read and to graduate; to financially empower the city’s “working poor” with skills, knowledge and resources; and to cut drug overdoses to more than half of what they are today.
“We have an obligation to the community to ensure that the community is healthier for us than what it was,” says Jim Mullen, president and CEO. “We’re at that pivot point in Summit County. We want to see a scope of change. happening here. The time is right.”
- Goal One: To get 65 percent of Akron Public Schools (APS) third-graders reading at or above grade level (Currently, we are at 38%.)
- Goal 2: To get 90 percent of APS high-schoolers graduating in 4 years, with 60 percent college/career ready. (The graduation rate is currently at 75 percent.) Also increasing college and career readiness, 90 percent of APS high-schoolers graduating in 4 years, with 60 percent college/career ready (Currently, the rate is 75 percent and 21 percent respectively.)
- Goal 3: To financially empower 11,000 people with the skills, knowledge and resources to budget and save, manage debt, build credit and access banking services (Currently, 42,000 people in Akron are considered to be “working poor.”)
- Goal 4: To reduce ER visits due to drug overdoses to 1,000, from currently 2,400 annually.
Mullen has been with United Way for 11 years. He grew up in Cleveland; in 2011 he moved to Nashville, TN, where he served as director of workplace giving, one of the most innovative United Way organizations in the U.S., he says. Two years ago he moved back to Akron and took on the position of president and CEO of United Way of Summit County.
“We want to see a change in what’s happening here and see community change. The time is right. There’s an unprecedented time of leadership now. Transitions and long-standing leadership—there’s been so much of that that it created an opportunity. There’s been a wonderful embracing of leadership,” Mullen says.
Mullen says his access to new leadership within the community has helped him move forward with the goals.
In September 2017, students at 11 Akron public schools received backpacks full of classroom materials, courtesy of United Way of Summit County’s Stuff the Bus school supplies drive. Now in its fourth year, and sponsored by Steere Enterprises, Stuff the Bus has grown into one of United Way’s largest events. Individuals and organizations from throughout Summit County—including 49 local businesses—donated 60,218 supplies, amounting to a 54 percent increase over last year’s total. The growth in donations allowed United Way to distribute one backpack full of school supplies to every student at 11 local public schools, nearly double the number of schools served in 2016.
The United Way envisions a future where everyone has the tools to be financially empowered, where every student has the skills to succeed in the classroom and beyond and where no family is devastated by addiction.
“Too many of our children live in poverty, go hungry and fall behind in school. Our youth find too few opportunities. Too many of our neighbors lose loved ones to addiction. And too many families struggle to find a way forward financially.”—CS
“We want to see a change in what’s happening here and see community change. The time is right.”
President/CEO Jim Mullen advocates robust programming to meet Bold Goals.