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United Way announces $2.1 million to support countywide student success from birth

Plans to expand community schools, release RFP to address self-sufficiency

At a press conference today, United Way of Erie County announced $2.1 million over three years to support student success from birth. Support will include countywide expansion of the community schools strategy, committing human resources to advance educational work and coordinating the countywide initiative to address reading by 3rd grade.

The announcement follows a historic board meeting held December 6, 2017, where United Way board of directors unanimously approved the expansion of community schools, hiring of a Director of Education and new RFP process focused on three key priorities.

“At United Way, we are focused on reducing poverty. Our goal is to help change community conditions to achieve self-sufficiency. To accomplish that goal, we focus on two critical and complementary issues that impact poverty - student success from birth and family stability. Today, we demonstrate that we are working differently and committed to working toward large-scale change that lasts. And, lasting change starts with our youngest children,” said Bill Jackson, president.

United Way has evolved from its roots as a fundraising organization to a critical community impact organization mobilizing local partners – including businesses, community leaders and community residents – to reduce poverty and expand opportunities for people to become self-sufficient.

By preparing and supporting children from birth, connecting family and community support, and providing education and growth opportunities, we can create a healthier, more stable community.

In August of last year, United Way launched the transformational initiative known as community schools, which is a strategy - not a program - for organizing school and community resources around student success.  Community schools are currently in place at East, Edison, McKinley, Pfeiffer-Burleigh and Strong Vincent  - all part of Erie’s Public Schools.

By next school year, United Way plans to expand the community schools strategy to include Elk Valley Elementary in the Girard School District and Iroquois Elementary in the Iroquois School District.

United Way is committed to working differently to solve the Erie community’s complex social problems. Because of this, United Way plans to hire a Director of Education with the intent to have the position filled in early 2018.

The Director of Education will report directly to our Vice President of Community Impact and become an integral part of the team that leads United Way’s efforts to achieve the long-term community goal of increasing the number of individuals and families living self-sufficiently.

Applications are due January 15. More information can be obtained at

United Way also announced plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for funding which will commence July 2018. Proposals should address three key priorities tied to student success, which include kindergarten readiness, physical and mental health supports from kindergarten through third grade, and resources to address physical health barriers to learning.  

Complete information can be obtained by visiting or contacting Mike Jaruszewicz, Vice President of Community Impact.