United Way: Improving Lives from Beginning to End

A Look at Cradle to Career, End of Life Care Partnerships

By Loni Nannini

Social transformation through creative cooperation.

It can be witnessed in real time through United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s unique collaborations such as Cradle to Career (C2C)  and End of Life Care Partnership.

C2C brings together education and business leaders and other organizations dedicated to improving educational and life outcomes for every child through achieving key milestones along the pathway to adulthood. 

The partnership with seven school districts in Pima County now impacts 3,335 children, youth and young adults. With a budget of more than $1.2 million, it tracks seven developmental milestones, including kindergarten readiness for children birth to age 5, 3rd grade reading, 8th grade math, high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment and completion, and career attainment. 

This approach uses the data to continually set goals, plan interventions, act, reflect and adjust—all with the intent of achieving results.

“We are looking at impacting those indicators of systems change, and to do that we bring people together who don’t necessarily work with each other on a daily basis. We work cross-schools, cross-school districts, cross-organizations and cross-businesses,” said Allison Titcomb, senior VP and Chief Impact Officer of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.

The most recent results available show improvement in many of the benchmarks since C2C began in 2014: While less than half of third grade students are proficient on the Arizona assessment, proficiency rates were six points higher than at baseline. The percentage of students enrolled in high-quality early education programs rose by seven points. 

Additionally, the percentage of 8th graders who met or exceeded state standards in math increased by 10 points. High school graduation rates were up slightly and career attainment improved by six points. 

C2C looks to continue this progress through its affiliation with StriveTogether Network, a national movement to help children succeed regardless of race, ethnicity, circumstance or zip code.

“StriveTogether allows us to work and learn with and from other communities doing similar work around educational outcomes for children and youth,” said Titcomb. “That provides us with more resources to think about how we can do better and achieve continuous improvement. Systems change has to happen across the board on many different levels.” 

The End of Life Care Partnership (EOLCP) is another impactful United Way program. Its mission is to “enhance the way we live by fundamentally changing the way we talk about death.”  

Anchored at United Way, the partnership formally began in 2017 with funding from the David and Lura Lovell Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. 

It’s now a national model that manages more than $3.9 million in grants with over 400 stakeholders, 30 investing partners and 19 grantee organizations including Catholic Community Services, El Rio Health, Interfaith Community Services, Pima Council on Aging, the Pima Juvenile Court System, Tucson Medical Center and University of Arizona Health Sciences.

“Our work with older adults is a unique aspect of our United Way,” said Titcomb. “There are only a handful of United Ways in the country that work with older adults and this was identified as a key area of involvement by our community nearly 20 years ago. A critical component to this End of Life Care work, however, is that it affects everyone, not just older adults and that is a core principal of the partnership.”

The services include end-of-life care and support, training for healthcare professionals, education and advance care planning workshops, hospice services, bereavement and grief support for children and adults. 

“The EOLCP helps people to transition so they can live out their lives as they choose,” said Tony Penn, president and CEO of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. “It also helps families so they don’t fall victim to the tragedy of losing a loved one at the end of life while facing the issue of not being prepared financially.”

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