At United Way of Story County (UWSC), we believe that when we are United together, we can find solutions that make long-lasting, positive change in the lives of individuals and families, which is why our 2017 LIVE UNITED campaign theme is United Together. Finding Solutions, Changing Lives. We do this because every person in our community has a right to have a good quality of life.


Last month, we shared how UWSC is working on the first part of that theme of being United Together. In October, we will focus on how we are finding solutions. One way in which we are doing this is through needs assessments. We do this because we want to ensure that we are investing dollars and volunteerism into programs that are impacting our community’s needs.


In a collaborative spirit, UWSC was part of a formal needs assessment in 2005 and 2010 through the Story County Quality of Life Alliance (SCQLA). In these assessments, surveys were shared with Story County residents and a series of focus groups were held to help identify the greatest and most pressing needs within our community. Although the formal needs assessments have been conducted every five years, SCQLA is a team that meets monthly to continually update data and determine progress in these areas. UWSC remains a part of this team whose responsibility is to not only coordinate the assessments, but also look at additional data points in Story County to verify the results of the needs assessments.


In 2015, the group focused on hearing from the human service providers who work with people in need on a daily basis. The UWSC board of directors formed work teams in the areas of education, income, and health and held community conversations to identify results in each of those areas. As a result of those conversations, the following goals were identified for Story County:


• Education: Children enter school developmentally on track; children exit third grade reading at grade level; residents are educated on local issues and have tools to advocate for themselves and others


• Income: Individuals and families achieve financial stability; basic and emergency needs are met


• Health: residents have access to enough food and healthy food; children, youth, and adults have access to needed mental health care; residents are emotionally and physically well


The needs assessment is ongoing to identify emerging needs in Story County. We will continue to evaluate our community every five years to identify trends and progress being made. We do not anticipate the results changing on an annual basis, but we will review the information regularly so we continue to meet the current needs.


Next week, we will share how we track the measures set forth by the needs assessments. This allows us to be accountable to our donors and show them how the investments we make are impacting the community and meeting the needs of individuals and families.


To learn more about the benefits of UWSC funding in local programs, visit www.uwstory.org or call 515-268-5142.


Kim Mack is the marketing director for United Way Story County.