Editorials

United Way supports families and kids through a new program

Terry Bassham, 2014 campaign co-chair and president and CEO of KCP&L, encouraged everyone to make a donation during the United Way of Greater Kansas City Kickoff Luncheon at Arrowhead Stadium in September.
Terry Bassham, 2014 campaign co-chair and president and CEO of KCP&L, encouraged everyone to make a donation during the United Way of Greater Kansas City Kickoff Luncheon at Arrowhead Stadium in September. The Kansas City Star

Families living in poverty tend to move a lot. That instability affects children’s academic performance.

The United Way of Greater Kansas City this year is addressing the problem with its new Family Stability Initiative. The agency has received a $300,000, three-year grant from the Siemer Institute for Family Stability. The ongoing 2014 United Way fundraising campaign will help provide the matching dollars to sustain the new program.

In the last few months, Metro Lutheran Ministry in Kansas City and the Community Services League in Independence have partnered with the United Way to work with families whose children are in Kansas City and Independence schools. The initiative is a great fit for United Way funded programs targeting poverty, literacy, career readiness and well-being. It also shows how the United Way creatively increases the effectiveness of Kansas City area contributions with grants provided by outside sources.

Jim Glynn, executive director of Metro Lutheran Ministry, said the effort reaching 30 families in Kansas City schools started in August. Emergency assistance resources are provided in addition to lessons on budgeting, financial literacy, financial education, banking and financial planning. The goal is to help train families to learn to live debt free and enjoy financial freedom. Assessment tools enable the agency to track the success.

Lynn Rose, major gifts and grants manager with the Community Services League, said its program began in October with a social worker assisting 40 families in eastern Jackson County. In some cases, financial assistance is needed. In others, families need help with budgeting, weatherproofing homes to lower utility bills and other ways to keep them in their residences.

The work also includes monitoring children’s grades, behavior at school, teaching, coaching and providing life skills for families. “The whole goal is to keep those children in their schools so the education continues and hopefully breaks the cycle of poverty,” Rose said.

Dollars donated to the United Way campaign couldn’t go to a better investment.

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