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For additional information or questions please contact Emily Francis, United Way's community impact manager at (814) 456-2937 ext. 235 or email


In December 2017, United Way's Board of Directors approved a restructured impact strategy as part of United Way’s 2015-2018 strategic plan. This plan is focused on reducing poverty by changing community conditions so many more people become and remain self-sufficient.

This new impact strategy utilizes the collective impact model to address the root causes of poverty in our community. Collective impact is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change.

This new impact strategy will take a two generation approach in our community, focusing on family stability and student success from birth.  As a result, United Way’s legacy Education, Income and Health Impact Areas are now collapsed into the self-sufficiency continuum. All of United Way’s resources will be leveraged to advance this work moving forward.

Specifically, United Way resources formally allocated to the Education, Income and Health Impact Areas will go to leverage and expand the community school model in Erie County, as well as support the local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, effective July 1, 2018.


Community And Live United Schools

The community school model is a strategy for organizing school and community resources around student success. A community school is both a place and set of partnerships that help address health, wellness and social needs of students and their families. The goals of community schools are to address non-academic barriers to learning and increase community engagement in the success of the school.

In full-service community schools, community-based organizations serve as lead partners, helping to mobilize community assets and coordinate resources, in cooperation with school staff. Each school’s lead partner employs a community school director who works in close relationship with the principal and the community school leadership team. Community school action plans guide the work of each community school by using local data to develop specific strategies, outcomes and indicators of success for each priority need at a specific school.

In addition to full-service community schools, United Way is working to create a pipeline of community schools throughout the county by launching Live United Schools. Live United Schools would not initially have a lead partner or a community schools director, but would benefit from technical assistance and other resources from United Way. For example, students in the Live United Schools catchment area would be prioritized for services or programs supported by United Way funding.

While not every district will benefit from the Live United School designation, United Way will continue to support or provide a variety of countywide resources that benefit the entire community. These include:

  • Imagination Library
  • Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
  • Erie Free Taxes
  • FamilyWize
  • 2-1-1
  • Positive Youth Development
  • Career Street
  • Success By 6
  • Unified Erie’s Erie County Re-Entry Services and Support Alliance

Raising Readers

Erie’s Campaign For Grade-level Reading

The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading initiative is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states, and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade. This work is organized by three key areas:

Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve, providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities, mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children, are needed to assure student success.

United Way of Erie County is serving as the backbone organization for the local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading known as Raising Readers and has, over the second half of 2017, mobilized dozens of local subject matter experts to develop a Community Solutions Action Plan that will guide Erie County’s efforts to ensure all students are reading at grade-level by third grade.