It was one of my proudest moments on April 18 when I stood before more than 1,500 United Way professionals from around to world to accept United Way Worldwide’s highest honor, the Common Good Award. United Way of Salt Lake was one of just three affiliates to receive the award from among more than 1,800 worldwide. The others receiving the recognition were United Way of Greater Cincinnati and United Way Mumbai.
United Way of Salt Lake received the Common Good Award for Innovation for our efforts to dramatically change the delivery of early education in Utah. The award highlighted our Early Learning Network in South Salt Lake. Along with our partners, City of South Salt Lake and Voices for Utah Children, the Early Learning Network focuses on the crucial need for improved access to early learning opportunities for high-risk students in our community. Thanks to our efforts and the Early Learning Network, many additional children have been able to attend high-quality preschool based on the Granite School District model at the Hser Ner Moo Neighborhood Center, and on location at two elementary schools in South Salt Lake. Most of the high-risk students who have participated in Granite’s high-quality preschool have closed the achievement gap and are learning on grade level with their peers.
The award is the culmination of many years of work. We have totally transformed our organization’s business model and are seeing meaningful and measurable results. We are literally changing the odds for kids and their families in the most challenged neighborhoods in our communities. I was so happy to be able to share the recognition with members of our senior management team who accepted the award with me — Rebecca Dutson, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer; Bill Crim, Senior Vice President of Collective Impact and Public Policy; and Agnes Chiao, Vice President of Collective Impact. They are the most talented and dedicated people I know and are largely responsible for the innovative and progressive work we are doing.
During the conference, held in Indianapolis, United Way of Salt Lake received further recognition by delivering a featured workshop presentation on our Collective Impact business model to hundreds of attendees. We shared the business practices that helped us to gain significant new financial resources to support our work and earned us a top ranking in United Way Worldwide’s new business performance matrix. We were especially proud that two of our Board members and strongest supporters, Allen Alexander of Savage, and Scott Ulbrich of R. W. Baird and Co., were willing to travel to Indianapolis to share their insights about our work and give first-hand testimonials regarding the impact it is having in our communities.
A huge thank you from me to Rebecca, Bill, Agnes, Allen and Scott for their amazing commitment to our promise to change the odds, so that every child has the same chance to succeed in school and in life. I am so proud of our organization and our work and I am thrilled that we are being recognized nationally for doing cutting-edge work. Everyone shares in our success. Thanks to all for making our work possible.