We’re proud of the impact we’ve achieved together this year. 

 

Another year is nearly over and at United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL), we are proud of the strides we’ve made toward helping Utah kids and families thrive. 

We accomplished so much in 2023 thanks to the support of our community and corporate partners, donors, and volunteers. Below you’ll find some highlights and big wins we achieved together. 

 

Full-Day Kindergarten Expansion Win 

In March, Governor Spenc er Cox signed HB477, “Full-Day Kindergarten Amendments” into law, giving all Utah children the opportunity to attend full day kindergarten (FDK). 

This legislative win is more than 16 years in the making. In 2007, UWSL helped pass SB49 Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten. The legislation established the foundation for FDK expansion in Utah. We remained relentless in our advocacy efforts and helped establish the Utah Full Day Kindergarten Now Coalition to collaboratively seek full state funding for FDK.   

The impact of this bill is already being felt in school districts across the state. Utah State Board of Education (USBE) data indicates that enrollment in FDK has more than doubled, from 34% to 77% of students. In 32 of the 41 school districts, including Davis, Granite, and Canyons, more than 90% of students are enrolled in FDK. We are thrilled that parents now have this choice, and that children will have a stronger foundation for their future educational success.    

Thanks to nearly two decades of hard work by families, educators, policy champions, community leaders and legislators, all Utah families are able to choose the kindergarten option that works best for their children.  

Check out our 2024 Legislative Priorities at uw.org/blog/2024-legislative-priorities

 

UWSL Calls for Childcare Solutions to Support Utah Families 

Earlier this year, a report was released detailing how much childcare issues cost parents’ career advancement and higher education opportunities.  

UWSL partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Salt Lake Chamber, Utah Community Builders, and Voices for Utah Children to release the report, titled Untapped Potential in Utah.” The goal was to better understand the economic impact childcare has on families, businesses, and our state. 

The report outlines how often parents with children under six leave the workforce or educational opportunities because of insufficient childcare, and how much work or school they miss due to those issues. 

One of the report’s major findings showed that disruptions in childcare also result in an estimated $1.36 billion loss annually to Utah’s economy, showcasing the importance of addressing childcare solutions to employers.

Other highlights from the report include: 

  • Utah loses an estimated $258 million annually in tax revenue due to childcare issues 
  • 26% of parents have changed their childcare arrangement due to COVID-19 
  • In Utah, families pay an average of $561 per month for childcare 
  • 48% of parents needed to make a significant adjustment to their school or work training due to childcare issues in the past 12 months 

 

Community Schools Get Better Results 

Community Schools bring educators, community members, families, students, and cross-sector partners together to strengthen student learning and healthy development. 

Everyone benefits from the collaborative partnerships that Community Schools offer, and the data shows it. Community Schools get better results than similar schools.

Here are some examples :

  • Salt Lake Center for Science Education, with its focus on teacher leadership, school culture, and experiential learning, consistently achieves nearly 100% graduation rate. 
  • Woodrow Wilson Elementary School saw breakthrough growth in third grade reading, from 37% proficiency in 2018-19 to 68% proficiency 2021-22.  
  • The four elementary Promise Community Schools in South Salt Lake, Lincoln, Moss, Walker, and Wilson, greatly outperform similar schools in reading, math, and science proficiency. 
  • Graduation rates have improved at Cottonwood High School for refugee students and prior to the pandemic, were at the same rate as nonrefugee students.  
  • With many amazing partners – thousands of students and their families receive help with food, immunizations, dental and vision services, and other support each year. 

To learn more about Promise Community Schools, check out our Results Matter Report. 

 

ESL Literacy Project with Women United  

Over the past year, more than 50 English as a Second Language (ESL) students at East High School joined an exciting literacy project with UWSL’s Women United members. To better learn English and immerse themselves in the language, students became storytellers, crafting children’s books that reflected their unique backgrounds and aspirations. These stories were bound and published with student illustrations. They were showcased at Power of Your Purse, where students, parents, and teachers shared their stories leaving a lasting impression on guests. 
 
As the school year ended, students celebrated their literary achievements with their mentors. Next year, many of the students will return to mentor new students in the ESL program. They are excited to continue with the project. The impact of these young authors goes beyond the pages of their books. The stories they’ve created will continue to enrich schools and community centers, leaving a legacy of empowerment and learning.   

Learn more about Women United at uw.org/women-united 

 

Volunteerism 

UWSL’s volunteer program is driven by our mission to ensure that Utah students and families have access to high quality education and access to basic needs.  

In 2023, 1,715 volunteers stepped up providing over 3,500 hours of service helping students learn, beautifying campus and community spaces, supporting food pantries, and so much more. Our team works directly with school staff across the Wasatch Front to identify ways community members can help. 

Here’s how some of our staple volunteer events impacted the community: 

  • Read Across America Day: To instill a love of reading, UWSL partnered with 26 schools across the Wasatch Front on reading and literacy activities led by 340 volunteers
  • and donated 4,900 books to stock classrooms and school libraries. 
  • Stuff the Bus: Supporters raised nearly $30,000 and provided 7,800 backpacks and school supplies for over 11,000 students across the Salt Lake Valley. 
  • Day of Caring: This year, we celebrated the 31st Day of Caring with 33 service projects and nearly 700 volunteers rolling up their sleeves to address community needs spanning the last days of summer into fall. 

 To find current volunteer opportunities, check out uw.org/get-involved/volunteer

 

211 Utah Upgrades to Better Support Utahns 

This year, 211 Utah upgraded its technology to offer state-of-the-art support to individuals and analyze data. 211 aims to help more Utahns get help, collect better data for better service, and improve systems that help Utahns in need. 

There are so many ways Utahns can get in touch with 211 to get help. During the last fiscal year 266,297 people interacted with 211 and here’s a breakdown of the outreach 211 received from customers:

  • 57,835 Calls
  • 3,590 UCC Interactions
  • 901 Texts
  • 577 Chats
  • 802 Emails
  • 82 Walk-ins
  • 124,107 Web Searches
  • 78,513 App Searches

 

Learn more about 211 Utah at 211utah.org