Weekly INBrief: January 13, 2021

Wednesday Jan 13th, 2021

Weekly INBrief  2

Basic Needs & Supplies Pantries Receive Grant From Erie Women’s Fund  

Imagine being a young child in Erie attending school, in-person or virtually, in dirty clothes, without a winter coat or boots, hungry or without having toothpaste and a toothbrush.  For children from low-income homes, lack of basic personal care necessities are barriers to learning. Thanks to the Erie Women’s Fund Mini Grant Program, $5,000 was awarded in December to help stock the Basic Needs & Supplies Pantries at each of United Way’s 10 community schools throughout Erie County. 

Since March, the increase in household needs for necessities such as toilet paper, laundry soap, shampoo and toothpaste has been exhausting basic needs pantry supplies.  Because of the ongoing struggles of families due to extenuating circumstances brought on by COVID-19, donations from dozens of community partners have not been enough to keep up with demand. Thanks to the Erie Women’s Fund, 300 families across Erie County will be directly impacted.   

Learn more on how you can help donate to United Way’s Basic Needs & Supplies Pantries by reaching out to United Way staff members in our resource development department.

On Time, Everyday--Why School Attendance Equals Success 

At United Way, we know the key to breaking the cycle of poverty is education. But, if students aren’t in the classroom, virtually, or otherwise, they cannot succeed. Being on time, everyday matters to our mission to Crush Poverty.  And here’s why. 

Truancy rates only include unexcused absences, while Chronic Absenteeism includes both excused and unexcused absences. Because Chronic Absenteeism is an indicator for on-track student level achievement, the total number of days a student is absent is recorded regardless of the reason the student was absent.   Chronic absenteeism is missing 10% or more of a school year, which totals 18 days.  And in Pennsylvania, it’s cumulative, meaning every time a student is tardy, that time adds up and eventually could equal a full day of being absent. 

As a result of missing a month or more of school, research shows that absent students fall behind.  They don’t perform well on standardize exams, they are more likely to be held back, drop out of school or get in trouble with the law.   High poverty levels create additional obstacles for students to show up daily.  These obstacles include transportation problems, homelessness, absent parents, mental and behavioral health issues affecting students or family membersteen parenthood and students being responsible for other siblings. 

A few years ago, United Way spearheaded the School Attendance subcommittee which is comprised of stakeholders from local school districts, social service organizations, community and business leaders. We are working on discovering the root causes of chronic absenteeism in our community. While absenteeism looks very different now than it did last school year, we are recording trends that were apparent pre- and post- COVID.  As a result, the team identified a critical need to hire additional case managers to serve the extraordinary needs of families experiencing hardship and to help ensure students have the basic necessities to thrive aschool.  These case managers will assist families at East Middle SchoolStrong Vincent Middle SchoolMcKinley Elementary SchoolPfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School and Edison Elementary School. 

In December, United Way launched Be There, an awareness campaign about school attendance.  Be There mobilizes trusted, caring adults to promote excellent school attendance among local children in Erie's Public Schools. In just three weeks, the Be There video has had more than 10,000 views. 

Watch the Be There PSA

Inspiring Hope in 2021: When I grow up I want to live in Erie and...

Students at McKinley Elementary, a United Way community school discuss future career goals.