July 9 – United Way of Allen County announces new strategy | New
After community conversations, a survey and other data collection, United Way of Allen County on July 9 announced its intention to focus on three essential community needs: education, public health and mental health.
The umbrella agency of a number of social service agencies announced its plans after partnering with the Community Research Institute at Purdue University in Fort Wayne.
The result of 16 months of work and an investment of $ 46,000 with 32 community conversations and 6,000 pages of data allowed United Way to create four priorities: education opportunities, food security, housing stability and access to health. Mental Health.
Over the next six to eight months, the agency will look for ways to meet these priorities.
In the meantime, she will continue fundraising for her partner agencies until June 30, 2022. After that, fundraising will focus on her four priorities.
“This is the new direction of Centraide; we are no longer just a not-for-profit ATM; we solve community problems, ”said Matthew Purkey, President and CEO of United Way of Allen County.
This means that some nonprofits will no longer receive its funding.
“Through this process, we had to understand that we were not going to make everyone happy.” Still, United Way will remain a resource for these groups, Purkey said.
Part of the job was to use the most available third-party data, 2019, as well as the Community Insights Survey, which called 400 people by mobile and landline and oversampled in urban and rural postal codes from March 23 to April 17, Rachel Blakeman, director of Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Institute.
The data, which included the Fort Wayne Police Department, the Indiana Department of Education and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, provided insight into topics such as internet access, poverty rates , voter participation and household structures.
Some things were missing.
“We had very little current data on the use of student loans; we didn’t know how student loans affected people,” Blakeman said. “We didn’t know how many people were using Citilink,” the public transport bus company.
The Community Research Institute reported:
• Between 2014 and 2019, Allen County grew to more people in households over 60 than those with children under 18. “It’s a pretty big demographic shift when we talk about ourselves as a family-friendly city and a kid-friendly city; we also need to think about being a senior friendly city, ”Blakeman said.
• Among the report’s population highlights: Allen County’s population grew from 355,945 in 2000 to 379,299 in 2019. Among the population, 78.5% of Allen County residents were white, compared to 83.3% from Indiana and 72.5% from the United States. Allen County’s Hispanic or Latino population made up less than half of the nation: 7.5% versus 18%.
• The United States, Indiana, and Allen County have been more educated over the past decade, as measured by adults with high school and bachelor’s degrees, but the county’s growth Allen was slower than that of state and nation.
• Average private sector wages in Allen County have fallen behind the national average. While the average weekly wage in the United States is $ 1,138 and for the state is $ 943, it is $ 914 in Allen County.
• Between 2001 and 2019, Allen County wages, adjusted for inflation, increased by only $ 95, compared to $ 3,051 for Indiana and $ 6,864 nationally.
• Allen County’s labor force participation rate if very high. “When the governor says we are a functioning state, that’s absolutely correct,” Blakeman said. The number of those working or seeking or working in Allen County is comparable to the number in the state and often greater than that of the nation as a whole. Between 1991 and 2019, the county’s labor force grew from 160,641 to 186,799.
• Of the 92 counties in Indiana, Allen County ranked 49th for health outcomes and 28th for health factors in 2021, according to the annual County Health Rankings from the Institute of Health. the people of the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That’s better than what the county did in 2020, when it ranked 55th for health outcomes and 52nd for health factors.
• 44.3% of tenant-occupied units in Allen County were “overburdened with housing” spending 30% or more on rent, compared to 17% of owner-occupied homes with a mortgage spending 30% or more on rent. housing costs.
• The vast majority of children, working-age adults and seniors in Allen County had broadband Internet subscriptions, with percentages higher than those in the state and nation.
• From 2015 to 2019, the largest portion of Allen County residents had a high school diploma or its equivalent, 68,442; 52,863 had a university degree but no diploma; 26,173 had an associate’s degree; 45,658 held a baccalaureate; and 23,355 had a graduate or vocational diploma, while 15,484 had no high school diploma. “Locally, Allen County has been very successful in getting people to start college or complete their associate degree,” the report says. “Ultimately, all three geographies become more and more educated over time, but Allen County and Indiana still lag behind in getting a bachelor’s degree or higher.”
Heidi Fowler, dean of Ivy Tech Community College, said the school has designed programs for people who don’t have two years to devote to an associate’s degree. “Someone who is barely making ends meet can spend a semester with us getting a certificate in a high-paying, high-demand field, and then getting a decent-paying job with those skills. “
Currently, the county has jobs for welding, supply chain, and Microsoft Office specialists who pay three times the minimum wage, and Ivy Tech has one-semester and 16-week certificates in each of these areas. These certificates can be “stacked” into a higher certificate and used to earn an associate’s degree.
Dr Sarah GiaQuinta, Vice President of Community Health at Parkview Health, “United Way’s commitment to food security and housing stability is just the first step in making real change for the county’s most vulnerable. Allen.
Food security, having reliable access to affordable nutritious food, is not a given because 13% of people in Allen County do not have enough food, GiaQuinta said. “The literature shows that food insecurity is associated with a number of health problems in adults and children, including depression, anxiety, iron deficiency, anemia, obesity and even asthma.” This can contribute to poor academic performance, reminding GiaQuinta of something that was said at a strategic planning meeting: “A hungry belly has no ears”.
Equally important is housing stability, she said. In 2016, Fort Wayne had 3,049 documented evictions, making it the 13th highest in the country. Some residents pay 30% of their annual income on rent and utilities. Unstable housing leads to disruptions in employment and education, and can lead to anxiety, increased drug use and poor general health, she said.
Much of the data did not cover 2020, but COVID-19 is known to have impacted residents’ mental health.
“If there is anything I can convey today is that mental health and physical health are one and the same,” said Stephen Jarrell, executive director of Headwaters Consulting. People with mental health problems often have physical health problems and vice versa.
Demand for his programs has increased by 30 to 50% due to the pandemic, he said.