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United Way Sets Sights On Record Goal

United Way sets sights on record goal
By Kelly Wilson
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

United Way of Adams County campaign leaders revealed a record campaign goal today, and presented a grant for a countywide project to improve the academic success of at-risk youth.
Scott Ruff, the 2006 campaign chairman, says United Way hopes to raise $1,111,111 nearly a 4 percent increase over the $1,075,682 raised last year.

"We chose the 'ones' to emphasize that United Way is truly an organization of individuals coming together to bring lasting change to our community," Ruff said during the campaign kickoff at the Quincy Mall.

"Our success depends on everyone in the community participating every contact counts, every volunteer counts, every contributor counts, every person whose life will be improved counts. Everyone counts."

Area restaurants help get the campaign off to a quick start by designating August as United Way Restaurant Days. Participating restaurants choose a day and designate a percentage of sales to contribute to the campaign.

Businesses such as ADM Alliance Nutrition, UPS and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois already have their company campaigns under way, and others are ready to get started.

In fact, Ruff says, $11,710 already has been raised.

"We look for August to be a very busy month and plan to make our first progress report early in September," Ruff said.

Harry Marcionetti, campaign vice chairman, says campaign

leaders and volunteers will work to keep the community focused on United Way until the conclusion of the campaign at the end of October.

In addition to the campaign goal announcement, the United Way announced that the Quincy Foundation for Quality Education is the recipient of a $20,000 grant. The Bank of America Foundation contributed $5,000 toward the grant.

The money will enable QFQE to collaborate with partner organizations over a seven-month period to research, plan and develop a countywide plan to improve school success for youth at risk for academic failure.

"We believe that making sure all young people succeed in school is the key to a bright future for them and for our community," said Sue Osier, United Way board president.

Julie Ross, QFQE executive director, said the foundation already has commitments from 21 partners to work on the initiative and hopes to get a wide variety of other organizations and individuals involved.

"We're absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity," she said. "United Way identified the need, they're willing to fund the need and they're passing the baton to us to find the best way to meet the need."

A grant leadership team will be formed and coordinators will be hired to direct the project.

"We will meet with all organizations involved with at-risk youth," Ross said. "This will have to be integrated into other existing initiatives in order for it to succeed."

Potential programs could run the gamut from prenatal care through a child's high school years, and could be offered before, during and after school, as well as in summer.

"We're looking at academic success from all aspects," Ross said.

Ross says the initiative will meet a significant need in the county.

"We can no longer tolerate the low high school graduation rate, the achievement gap and the number of youth living in impoverished conditions who feel disconnected to school and community or who lack a positive role model or mentor," she said.

Osier says providing a grant for a specific, new initiative is another step in the evolution of United Way of Adams County.

"For the past three years we've been remodeling our organization and we are really beginning to see things taking hold in the community," she said. "United Way is stronger, more focused and better organized. We are better prepared to help our community address our most challenging problems. Academic achievement is one of these community priorities."

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