Our United Voice

From Sippy Cup to Graduation Cap in :13 Seconds.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Melody Murphy
Senior Manager,
Digital Engagement

Well, not really but it seems like it.

My oldest child, Nate will graduate from Jefferson County Public School’s Ballard High School this Friday, June 5.

I can’t believe I just typed that. But it’s true.

It really hit me (hard) when I saw this BuzzFeed post a few weeks ago: 

23 Reminders Of What The World Was Like When The Class Of 2015 Was Born

Will Nate really never watch his favorite preschool show Blue’s Clues again? Is it even on anymore?

Dads Matter...A Lot!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shawn Gardner
President & Founder
2Not1 Fatherhood & Families
Years ago when I was out in the community with my four daughters I was often asked, "are you babysitting?", "where’s mom" or something of that nature. I guess they thought there was no way I could actually just be doing what dads do. In tandem with that reoccurring scenario, I talked with another young father that prompted a workshop-type discussion in our community around fatherhood. It soon became evident that there were support services provided to moms that would have benefited this dad’s efforts to be a better father too.

These conversations led to a partnership with Neighborhood Place to provide a series of fatherhood workshops in our community. Dads learned parenting skills, the community benefited from the insight gained from the discussions, and I recognized my calling for founding an organization to advocate for fathers and to strengthen families - 2NOT1.

40 years: A Connector, Engager and Cheerleader.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mary Sullivan
Corporate Volunteer Engagement
It’s amazing to think about how my volunteer experiences - from the time I was 8 years old growing up in South Bend, Indiana until I was a college student at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan - prepared me for a 40 year career in volunteer management with Metro United Way.

What brought me to Metro United Way in 1975? I had a degree in Urban Studies (note that there was no degree in volunteer management back then, but there is today!) with lots of volunteer experience; my dad was an active volunteer for United Way in our home communities and suggested I send my resume to United Way Worldwide. I completed their intern program and landed a job in Louisville with Metro United Way. While there have been some tough times and challenges in my career, I’ve embraced the mission of Metro United Way and the community that adopted me.

A few highlights? 

Play. It's Important to Our Kids' Success.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Claude Stephens
Facilitator of Outreach &
Regenerative Design
Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest
If our aim is to create a generation of creative leaders well versed in social justice, primed for exploring the world and ready to address the mounting challenges of the future…we would get out of the way when children play. But for the most part, that is not what we do. We adults tend to schedule, plan, control, design and engineer most of the real value out of play. Worse, we undervalue play as a pastime.

“Play is the highest form of research.”
– Albert Einstein

Ask anyone over fifty about their experience with play growing up and they will likely tell you that their parents showed them the door in the morning and then rang the bell when it was time for supper. Between those moments children were engaged “in the highest form of research.”

Children are drawn to trees. A large downed tree will hold a child’s
attention far longer than any engineered climbing structure.

A Love of Language. A Love of Books.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Judy Schroeder
Senior Manager,
Neighborhood Engagement
When I was little, I can remember only one set of books in the house. My dad read the paper. But my mom would open up My Book House, the BIG BOOK of nursery rhymes, and the next volume with fairy tales from around the world. Now, that was a long time ago…once upon a time…but I don’t remember any of my neighbor friends having lots of children’s books, either.

Maybe that’s why I can relate so well to Metro United Way's Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) and the families enrolled, as well as our neighborhood parent advocates. The day I got that Golden Book, What Do Daddies Do All Day?, it was absolutely precious to me. (My daddy was just starting out as a mailman.)

So, how did I find this love for language that I have? For expressing myself? For being curious about others? For reading? My mother talked to me, that’s how. She actually asked questions, my whole life. Even as an infant, I’m sure, because I watched her do that with each of my brothers and sisters.

Black History Should Be Taught All Year, Not Just February

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Delquan Dorsey
Executive Director,
Governor's Office of Minority Empowerment
It was February 1996. I was a graduating senior attending Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Like many of the "Divine Nine" - African American Fraternities and Sororities - we have numerous programs that serve the African-American community. On this particular day, I was excited to participate in one of my favorite fraternity programs.

My brothers and I were passing out “Black History Facts" - dressed to impress in our best suits, shirts, and ties. The Black History Facts included information about famous African-Americans who had made a positive impact in America. On the cover of the literature was Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the "Father of Black History."

Kids Have Voices Worth Listening to…Hear Them Out

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Regan Hunt, Executive Director
Kentucky Voices for Health
For the past 11 years hundreds of Kentuckians of all ages have convened in Frankfort during the legislative session for Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Those who attend have one thing in common: we all want Kentucky to be the best place in America to be a kid!

What's amazing about this particular day is that kids are actually telling us what we can all do to change the world today and in the future. To quote Kid President, “If you make the world better for kids, you make it better for everybody." But how?

Start with something that impacts daily life.

I recently watch a documentary about The Rethinkers
, a group of kids (and supportive adults) in New Orleans advocating for better school breakfasts and lunches, going so far as meeting with the corporation that provides the food they eat. These kids were passionate, armed with data, and driven to change their world. And, they did! The students helped negotiate a signed contract promising fresh, local produce that would be served at least twice a week in every school in the district's cafeterias.

This Keeps People Working, Out of Poverty and Improves Kids' Education and Health. WHAT IS IT?

Friday, January 30, 2015

John Nevitt
Senior Manager, Family Stability
A group of leaders across Kentucky have been working for the past few years to develop legislation that would allow our state to join 25 other states that have already adopted a State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), modeled after the federal credit. 

So, what is a state EITC and why is it important?

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit helps low-to-moderate income working families offset their income taxes so they have more money to meet their basic needs and support positive outcomes for their children.  A state EITC provides an additional credit at a percentage of the federal level to make an even greater difference for families.  This is particularly helpful in light of the rising cost of healthcare, transportation, and utilities.

In the 2012 tax year, the federal EITC paid over $917 million to nearly 400,000 families in Kentucky, with the average credit about $2,300 per family.  If a state credit were in place at 15% of the federal credit, this would represent an additional $138 million going back to hard working families across our state, at an average of $345 per family.

So, how exactly does this credit help families?

Hope for Boys and Young Men of Color

Monday, January 19, 2015

Daryle Unseld
Senior Manager, Community Engagement
As I reflect on my time as a youth growing up in Louisville, I’m thankful that I had many caring adults who encouraged me to dream past high school. I can’t help to think where I would be without that encouragement from those who served as an extension of my parents and grandparents, by pushing me to work hard, study hard and make the most of myself. From all walks of life, this cadre of both formal and informal mentors never gave up on me, and wouldn't allow me to give up on myself.

I can also name countless individuals including relatives and close friends whose dreams have been derailed. The fact remains that in our community, many of our boys and young men of color fall into the category of “at risk." And while we wait for the calvary that’s never coming, the gang and drug culture consistently but negatively demonstrates how effective mentoring partnerships work.

I can speak from personal experience that as a young black male the struggle is real! And because of who you are, and where you come from, often times you are marginalized into insignificance by the mainstream.

There are some harsh realities facing many young people in our community. Particularly, issues that disproportionately affect boys and young men of color:

8 Tips to Help Your Entire Family Eat and Be Healthier in 2015. Really.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Healthy living is an essential part of achieving a successful life...for all of us. And getting your entire family to make better choices and eat healthier doesn't have to be difficult, time-consuming or expensive. Try these easy tips and see if 2015 can be your healthiest year yet!

• Limit fast food, processed snacks, soda, candy and other unhealthy food choices. Opt for a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low fat dairy foods.

1 Zip Code. 17 New Libraries.

Monday, December 22, 2014

 Mary Grissom
Director of Engagement Initiatives

      I'm honored to be part of and a recent graduate of Leadership Louisville Center’s Bingham Fellows program that chose "investing in West Louisville's path to prosperity" as its focus for 2014.  Because of my role at Metro United Way, I'm especially passionate about this because a huge part of this work is a project called "Early Education 40210."

The 40210 zip code, which includes the neighborhoods of Algonquin, California and Park Hill, has one of the lowest rates of kindergarten readiness in our community with only 35% of kids screened as ready for school this past year. And we know that children who start behind, tend to stay behind - leading to significant achievement gaps and challenges in graduating high school on time.

In partnership with Metro United Way, Jefferson County Public Schools and the Louisville Free Public Library, Early Education 40210 focuses on parent engagement in child development, early literacy, and quality early education and childcare settings. 

This I Believe

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

President & CEO
We hear a lot about the magic of BELIEVING during the holidays, and my message to you for the season reflects that.

At Metro United Way, we believe everyone can achieve their fullest potential through education, financial stability and healthy lives. And that success in life starts with a quality education so that kids are ready before they even set foot in a classroom. Sadly today, 47% of children in our community are behind when they enter kindergarten.

6 Words. 1 Journey.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Robin Schotter 
Early Childhood Specialist, 4-C
When your goal is to foster a community of learners, that goal is never completed. Metro United Way and Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C) have been partnering to prepare kids for kindergarten through their Excellence Academy for almost five years.

Throughout this journey, there has always been something new to explore, a new way to look at something, and something new contributed from each of the mentors, administrators, directors, teachers and children. We want a program that is responsive to those involved and embraces change. It starts now and never ends.

Engaging in dialogue about how children and adults learn means sharing knowledge back and forth. It means being vulnerable, trying new things, talking about and reflecting on success and failures. It’s a culture that we have to create.

It Takes a Journey to Appreciate Home

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Janet L. Boyd
Senior Grants Manager

Candide, a character created by the French writer Voltaire, had to travel around the world in order to discover that true happiness was to be found in his own back garden. I only had to travel as far as Nashville to be reminded that Metro United Way – right here in Kentuckiana’s own back garden – is a place where happiness begins.

While attending the Tennessee Humanities Council’s Southern Festival of Books in early October, I had the good fortune to hear Nicholas Kristof speak. Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with the New York Times who has used his talent and prominent position to help make the world a better place, was there promoting the book he and Sheryl WuDunn have just published. In A Path Appears:Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunities, the authors help people who want to make a difference figure out how to navigate myriad opportunities and take risks that might pay off in ways they never imagined.

What Would YOU Say to a Kid Who Wants to Drop Out of School?

Monday, September 29, 2014

By Melody Murphy

Recently, I came across an excellent blog post for teachers entitled, 6 Things to Say to Kids at Risk of Dropping Out. It presents responses to students that teachers can use to help guide a student back on the path towards high school graduation. According to this post, some of the typical statements students make when considering dropping out are:

1. "I'm suspended for a week, so I guess it's my vacation."
2. "I don't fit in here anyway."
3. "I didn't make it in today."
4. "I'm failing three classes. This is BS."
5. "My life is too crazy right now."
6. "I just can't be here anymore."

The suggested replies are wonderful and I know there are many great teachers who are faced with these situations every school year.

It got me thinking, though, especially with September being Attendance Awareness Month, what would I say to a child who told me he or she no longer wanted to go to school? What would you say? 

13 Pictures That Will Inspire You to Read to a Child

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Need another inspiring reason to read to a child?

We encouraged folks to support International Literacy Day yesterday by posting a #LiteracySelfie; here's our best so far!

 The "Grumps" reading a BIG book with Roman!

Imagination Will Get You Everywhere

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Latara Appleby
Marketing Brand Assistant

Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” Well, I’m not sure my mom knew that when she was reading my bedtime stories growing up, but she definitely followed through on it.

Some of my childhood favorites were Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. Never one to corner myself in one genre, I also had a particular fondness for Strega Nona and The Velveteen Rabbit.

7 Every Day Ways to Help Kids LOVE to Read

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

By Katy Miller
Because reading likely comes second nature to you as an adult, you may not realize that opportunities to help your child love reading are all around you every day.

1 - Let’s start with somewhere you go every week – the grocery store. Plan your meals for the week and make a list of everything you need. Hand the list to your child and ask them to read off the items to you.

She can also mark the items off as you put them in the cart. Also try letting her pick products off the shelf by reading the packages. (Hint: our daughter also likes to use math by sitting in the cart, sorting what we are buying and giving us a count of each type of item.)

Happy Birthday Who?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Kelly Garvey
Director, Tocqueville Society
July 29th marks the 209th anniversary of the birth of Alexis de Tocqueville, a man who was described in his day as a writer, scholar, and diplomat. Today, we find a wide range of labels (from sensible to dramatic) attached to his name, such as:  visionary, champion, and prophet.

At Metro United Way, his name and legacy are honored through the United Way Tocqueville Society, which was founded over 30 years ago to deepen the connection and support of the most generous community-minded leaders. The name honors the nineteenth-century Frenchman and his admiration for the spirit of volunteering for the common good.

12 Pics that Scream "SUMMER IS AWESOME!"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We asked our staff to submit their best summer photos to us. Here they are and they are FANTASTIC!

 Mmmmm. Watermelon is so good. So says Patty's son, George. We love to see kids eating healthy!

How to Banish "I'M BORED" this Summer

Monday, June 30, 2014

Those two words that parents and caregivers hate to hear from kids.


Most kids count down the last few weeks, days and even hours of school for that awesomeness of summer break. But just a few days in, it starts.


How about sharing this new meaning of the word "BORED" with your child?
Let's make a deal that every time we hear a child say this, we'll ask these questions!

And, if you need camp or program ideas for the kids while they are out-of-school this summer, simply text GETCONNECTED to 96714. Enter your zip code and your child's age and options will be sent to you! A lot of these activities, camps and programs are low cost or free!

And lastly, from our friends at the Kentucky Governor's Office of Early Childhood, here are some easy ways to engage your children this summer, including alphabet hopscotch, an obstacle course and online resources.

Kids can lose up to two months' worth of math and reading skills in the summer, so let's keep them learning while school is out!

How do you help your child avoid summer boredom?

Kindergarten or Bust!

Monday, June 16, 2014

By Breck Thomas-Ross
Choices - they can overwhelm any parent, especially me.  Whether it was selecting the right car seat or crib, I’ve been overwhelmed with parenting choices.  Is this one safe enough?  That one has better ratings. But this one is really cute!  As my daughter got older, the choices changed.  Where should she go to preschool?  How many days should she go?  Half-day or full-day?  Now that we’re approaching kindergarten, I don’t have a choice – I have to get her ready. That’ll be easy, right?

Girls CAN Be Good At Math - Don't Buy Into the Falsehood

Monday, June 2, 2014

By Janet L. Boyd
My granddaughter, Stella Rose, is a better conversationalist than just about any adult I know. Our discussions range from pop music to yoga to whether boogers would taste salty or sweet. At age 7, she considers herself an expert on many things: the value of pink cowgirl boots, the poems of Roald Dahl, Double Gloucester cheese, building fairy houses at Hogan’s Fountain, music by Loretta Lynn and Nancy Sinatra, purses, the movie Annie, and how to steer Canterbury the horse around a barn cat instead of running right over it.  She can talk a blue streak about any of these topics.

Here’s another thing Stella Rose is an expert at – math! During a recent overnight visit with me, she spent the last few minutes before falling asleep figuring the 12 times table in her head. She can add a column of figures faster than I can. She excels at division in first grade. All on her own, she figured out that the sum of the first two digits of her dad’s phone number equals digits three and four, and the sum of digits five and six equals digit seven.

But, sadly, by the time Stella Rose goes to middle school, she may stop believing in herself as an expert in math.


Monday, May 19, 2014

By Karen Napier
Last week I attended the United Way Worldwide Community Leaders Conference in Washington, DC.  The event was filled with presentations and sessions on how we as a community can work together to create community-wide change in education, income and health. The event was truly an inspiring culmination of ideas and passion.

At the closing session all 1,500 of the participants received a special message from Wes Moore, a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, social entrepreneur and host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network. And now author of his first book The Other Wes Moore.

Wes’ message was simple and clear:  WE ARE A PRODUCT OF OUR OPPORTUNITIES.

5 Easy Ways To Get Your Child Excited About Reading

Monday, May 5, 2014

By Katy Miller
Creating a culture of literacy in your home may seem like a heavy venture. In reality, however, it’s very simple and doesn’t require a tremendous monetary investment. It only requires time, commitment and attention, all of which are free.

In our house, we believe that learning is not confined to a certain time of day or setting. It’s not about passing any kind of test or measuring our child against other children. It’s about being committed to forming a productive and happy adult who will serve the world in a positive, thoughtful and memorable way.

4 Power Skills Kids Need to Succeed and Employers Want

Monday, April 21, 2014

By TJ Delahanty
An Out-of-School Time (OST) program is any program that offers enrichment activities to school-age youth during hours that school is not in session. And OST Programs are recognized as playing an important role in the ultimate success of our children.

Schools are aware that they cannot lay a strong foundation for academic achievement alone. Parents in our community who work know what a key role affordable, safe and supportive alternatives for school-age children play. And community leaders appreciate that many children need much more than just a safe place to “get them off the streets.”

But how exactly do OST programs instill skills in our youth?