Attend a United Way meeting, event or workplace campaign rally, and you’re guaranteed to hear the words “education,” “income” and “health.” On the surface, these words are a simple way to communicate our platform, but diving deeper into any one focus areas uncovers the complex and interrelated ways that education, income and health directly affect our quality of life in Northeast Florida.
The most recent numbers from Opportunity Nation and Measure of America’s Opportunity Index compiles data from 16 drivers to determine the extent to which the infrastructure of a given area allows members of the community to improve their quality of life. At the county level, scores ranged from D+ to B in the areas United Way serves, based on many of the same metrics we focus on to make life better for everyone in Northeast Florida.
These scores are important signals about areas where there are gaps in public service and resources, and represent critical areas of opportunity for us to advance the common good.
Every day, people in our community wake up and encounter a series of decisions that engage education, income and health. If they have the opportunity and are gainfully employed, they will probably get ready for work. For families or individuals with children, they must make sure their kids can get to day care or school, hopefully with a meal beforehand. Some parents will worry about whether or not their children are prepared to deal with the social and academic obstacles they will encounter in school. Many others worry that their paycheck will not be enough to cover bills and food, let alone pay for therapy and other medical expenses.
This is the real portrait of the hardworking families who contribute to their communities, strive to raise their families well and still find it challenging to make ends meet. Their daily lives may run smoothly, but their overall quality of life is hindered by not being able to plan for the future or navigate unexpected obstacles.
That’s why United Way focuses on the three building blocks to a good quality of life. By developing initiatives that respond to issues in education, income and health, we are meeting deserving families at the places where they need it most by increasing access to high quality early learning, helping students stay on track to graduation, supporting efforts to become more financially stable and making free health and human services available.