Middlesex United Way is reinvesting dollars into community

Middlesex United Way is pleased to announce the distribution of $615,967 to support programs and initiatives in Middlesex County.

This funding includes support to 35 organizations and 42 programs.

Funding will be distributed to programs in Middlesex County in the following amounts: $105,420 to improve student success; $43,635 to improve family financial stability; $165,739 to reduce the rate of risky behaviors among youth and adults; $195,370 to ensure people are healthy and safe; and $92,903 to increase the availability of safe and affordable housing.

We’re also investing $12,900 in United Way 2-1-1, a 24-hour information and referral helpline available free of charge to anyone in Connecticut. In Middlesex County, 2-1-1 answered 261,991 calls this past year. 2-1-1 is a partnership between Connecticut United Ways and the state of Connecticut. To reach this service, simply dial 2-1-1 from any phone or visit 211ct.com.

In addition to these other disbursements, more than $180,000 will be directed to United Ways and other nonprofits, including the United Way Volunteer Center and the Middletown Chamber of Commerce Youth at Work program.

This year, we are excited to announce we will be investing funds into two new projects: The Connecticut Youth Homelessness 100 Day Challenge, as well as the Workforce Solutions Collaborative.

The Connecticut Youth Homelessness 100 Day Challenge is a community capacity building initiative that will aim to help local housing providers develop strategies to reach and assist homeless youth. This initiative will bring our community together to collaborate, innovate and experiment — hopefully making leading to permanent changes to the system that will lead to better outcomes for our youth.

The Workforce Solutions Collaborative is an initiative to help strengthen local efforts to recruit and train community members for careers in manufacturing. Using sector-based, employer-driven strategies, participants improve work readiness and secure industry recognized credentials that are portable and stackable.

None of these investments would be possible without the support of the donors and local employers who support this great work. We’d also like to thank the teams of volunteers who make funding decisions by meticulously visiting and evaluating all of the funded programs. We rely significantly on the efforts of these teams.

Middlesex United Way works in the areas of education, income, health and housing, because we all need a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family, good health, and a safe, decent and affordable place to live.

To improve community conditions, we have to address the root causes of community problems and invest in long-term solutions that can prevent problems from happening in the first place. That means investing more in prevention-based programs.

In the area of education, our school readiness initiative is working with school systems, early child care providers, and parents throughout Middlesex County to identify and assist our youngest children who have social and emotional problems before they even enter school. We support programs that assist young children to become school ready, and also educate their parents about the important role they play in their child’s earliest years.

We’re also supporting parent education and family literacy through programs like Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore.

In the area of income, we work with partners who provide basic needs, including Amazing Grace Food Pantry and Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, as well as employment training supports and services.

In the area of health, we partner with Youth and Family Service organizations in Middlesex County to implement the Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth assets model in their towns. The approach increases young people’s participation in their local communities and reduces high-risk behaviors, especially the use of drugs and alcohol.

We are also proud to support scouting, Middlesex YMCA, Oddfellows Playhouse, and other youth development programs.

We are also ensuring the availability of mental health services, counseling, substance abuse services, sexual assault crisis services, programs that support adults with disabilities, and services to assist seniors so they may continue living at home.

In the area of housing, we support emergency shelter and supportive housing, as well as affordable housing and homelessness prevention efforts. We are actively involved in the Middlesex County Coalition on Housing & Homelessness, which is working to prevent and end homelessness, and we’re proud to support organizations like Middlesex Habitat for Humanity and The Connection’s Eddy Shelter.

For a full list of partners in each focus area, visit middlesexunitedway.org/impact.

Thank you to all our partners, advocate, donors and volunteers.

Kevin Wilhelm is executive director and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.