The United Way of Wyoming Valley is a nonprofit whose mission is to bring together individuals and businesses in our area, help them invest in our community and in turn, make it stronger. One third of all children under age 5 in Luzerne County is growing up below the poverty line. It doesn't get much better for all youngsters under age 18; nearly 29 percent of them live in poverty. Our goal is to reduce those statistics, by creating a movement that engages all of us to bring passion, creativity, and philanthropy to the fight against childhood poverty. Please join us!
In 2012, United Way of Wyoming Valley looked back at its community-driven accomplishments of the past decade. Needs had been served, community resources had been invested wisely, and thousands of residents had been helped. But one thing was clear; rather than the need being reduced, the number of people in the Wyoming Valley turning to the community for assistance continued to grow, and at a rate that would continually outpace our ability to help. Faced with that reality, United Way of Wyoming Valley's Board of Directors began to look into the possibility of changing the way it had traditionally done its work. Following the lead of United Way Worldwide and a growing number of local United Ways across the country, it began researching a new operating model, Community Impact Investment.
The concept of Community Impact is simple: United Ways would evolve to become "issue-driven," aimed at coordinating resources to create lasting change in a community. United Way of Wyoming Valley initiated extensive research, study, and community conversation about the root causes of what was spurring an ever-increasing number of our community members to ask for help to simply survive.
The initiative identified an array of community problems, which ultimately, could be traced back to one fact: an increasing number of our residents, and in particular, our children, were living in poverty.
Based on the research, in January 2014, the United Way of Wyoming Valley, through its Board of Directors, adopted a new priority focus area: "Reduce poverty among children by creating pathways to self-sufficiency for at-risk families." At the center of this historic shift for the United Way is a new strategic plan and investment model to ensure that donor support is allocated in the most effective and impactful way.
With research showing that a reduction in the number of families living in poverty would improve life for everyone in the Wyoming Valley, the United Way launched the "Poverty to Possibility" movement, aimed at improving the odds for children and families with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty in our community.
Making an Impact Locally
Education, Financial Stability and Health are recognized by United Way as the building blocks to a quality life. By focusing on these 3 issues, our community develops successful young people, contributes to healthy lives, and supports the independence and financial stability of our residents. Local programs are funded based on their role in impacting the community through one of our three signature Impact Areas:
To help at-risk children enter kindergarten ready to learn and move through school and beyond graduation with confidence.
To help at-risk individuals and families achieve greater financial stability.
To help at-risk children and families achieve good health and avoid risky behaviors.
Helping at-risk individuals, children and families who face threats to their immediate well-being obtain access to food, shelter and other essential services.
See the positive effect the United Way of Wyoming Valley made in our community: Poverty to Possibility, Success by 6® Program, the Volunteer Action Center, Labor Participation Council, and the Regional HIV/AIDS Contractor - together, we are improving the quality of life for individuals and families in the Wyoming Valley.
2019-20 Grants Made Under the Focus Area of EDUCATION
Catholic Social Services Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bridge $45,000
The Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program provides mentoring services to at-risk youth ages 7 to 17. Youth are matched with screened and trained volunteer “bigs” who agree to spend up to two hours per week with their assigned “little.” Funding will support direct service staff to recruit, screen, and train volunteer “bigs,” and assess children and families participating in the program.
Catholic Youth Center Preschool Readiness Program $27,000
The Catholic Youth Center (CYC) Preschool Program, a Keystone STARS 3 Center, provides quality year-round early education and child care services for children ages 6 weeks through 5. The CYC is the only program in Wyoming Valley offering services 24 hours per day to address the unique employment needs of at-risk families and their children. Funding will be used to support weekly tuition fees for income-eligible families.
Catholic Youth Center School-Age Development Program $38,256
The Catholic Youth Center (CYC) School-Age Development Program supports children ages 5 through 14 in a year-round before/after-school setting. Activities include tutoring & homework assistance, recreational activities and a healthy meal. Funding will be used to support weekly tuition fees for income-eligible families residing in the Wyoming Valley.
Child Development Council of NEPA Child Care and Early Learning Program $70,000
The Child Development Council (CDC) of NEPA is a leading provider of high-quality child care services for children ages 6 weeks to 12 at seven locations throughout Wyoming Valley. CDC of NEPA has achieved a STAR 3 designation by the Keystone STARS program for its early learning program, staff qualifications and professional development, partnerships with family and community, and leadership and management. Funding will be used to support tuition scholarships for income-eligible families.
Luzerne Intermediate Unit Helping Students Find Their Spark $20,000
In partnership with the Luzerne Intermediate Unit (LIU) and three area school districts, the career awareness and exploration program will coordinate opportunities for students, grades 11 and 12, to explore various careers and participate in job shadows at local businesses and organizations.
McGlynn Center After-School Program $60,000
The McGlynn Center will use grant funds to support its After School Program which serves residents in Wilkes-Barre public housing. The After-School Program aims to prepare all school-age children for a successful future by instilling a lifelong love of learning. Guidance is offered year-round to participants in the form of tutoring and mentoring services, as well as a variety of unique, hands-on recreational activities.
NEPA Manufacturers and Employers Council Your Employability Skills (Y.E.S.) Program $10,000
Funding will support the “Y.E.S.” Program designed to bridge the world of education and work by developing and enhancing students’ basic job skills in a school-based setting. Ninety students in 11th and 12th grade in three at-risk school districts will participate in the program and learn skills they can use both “on and off” the job throughout their life.
Osterhout Free Library Turn the Page, Wyoming Valley $12,500
“Turn the Page, Wyoming Valley” is a partnership between the Osterhout Free Library and the Wilkes-Barre Area School District to provide school-based community library services to elementary students. The program was created in response to students’ lack of access to school libraries. Through Turn the Page, the Osterhout’s Youth Librarian visits the school’s library once per week throughout the school year and provides library lessons to 200 kindergarten and first grade students. The librarian works to incorporate what students are learning in the classroom.
Wilkes University Schools and Homes IN Education - Luzerne County (SHINE LC) $70,000
Wilkes University’s SHINE program addresses the needs of at-risk students and their families by providing home-based visitation services and year round after-school programs for children pre-K through eighth grade. Home visits led by a certified SHINE instructor include reading and math activities for children in pre-K and Kindergarten. Students grades 1 through 8 are connected to year-round after-school programs that provide homework support, STEAM activities, and nutritious meals. A family engagement component ensures parents/caregivers are connected to their children’s progress as well as additional supportive resources, if needed.
Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA Early Childhood Education Child Care Program $55,000
Serving youngsters from 6 weeks to age 5, the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA’s Early Childhood Education Child Care Program operates year-round as a child care center offering early care and preschool programs. The program promotes age-appropriate learning and assessments to engage families in their child’s development. Funding will support tuition scholarships for income-eligible families.
Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA Power Scholars Academy $55,000
Funding will be used to support Power Scholars Academy, a six week, school-based summer learning program that combines math and reading instruction with STEM activities designed to keep children learning all summer long. The program will partner with the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and the Hanover Area School District. No less than 55 scholars will participate in the six-week program.
Wyoming Valley Children’s Association Together We Grow Preschool Program $80,000
Wyoming Valley Children’s Association (WVCA)’s is a unique preschool program combining quality early education and early intervention services to support typically developing children and children with developmental disabilities. Funding will be used to support tuition, and fees associated with physical, occupational, speech therapy and other related services.
2019-20 Grants Made Under the Focus Area of FINANCIAL STABILITY
Advantage Credit Counseling Services of NEPA Financial Counseling Program $15,000
The Financial Counseling Program helps families in poverty to make a permanent shift to a stable, healthy financial future through intensive counseling led by certified credit counselors. At the end of the program, participants have created a plan with achievable goals to overcome barriers to financial stability. Funding will be used to expand the program to serve additional eligible families in Wyoming Valley.
2019-20 Grants Made in the Focus Area of HEALTH
Catholic Social Services The Parenting Education Program $50,000
Catholic Social Services will use funding to support the Parenting Education Program, a home-based early intervention program serving at-risk families in Wyoming Valley. Using the Nurturing Parent curriculum, caseworkers provide parents/caregivers with knowledge and realistic expectations of age-appropriate development milestones and behaviors. Information is shared with families on a variety of parenting topics and ways that parents can support their children's development and learning. Participating families will benefit from personal home visits and learn methods to improve parenting skills.
Children's Service Center Drug and Alcohol Expansion $10,000
With United Way funding, the Children’s Service Center will offer school-based early intervention programming to middle and high school students and their families at risk of substance abuse disorders. Services include addiction screenings and prevention education for students and their families coping with addiction.
Family Service Association of NEPA ParentChild+ Program $31,500
The ParentChild+ Program is a proven home visitation program to support early childhood development in families challenged by poverty, limited education, and low literacy. With United Way funding, the agency will deliver home-based parenting, early literacy, and health education services to high-risk families residing in public housing units across the Wyoming Valley.
Luzerne County Head Start Early Head Start $72,800
Luzerne County Head Start (LCHS) is using grant funds to provide weekly, 90 minute home visitation services to expectant mothers and their babies through age 3. Led by family educators, the visits include health and developmental evaluations, and parenting education on the stages of healthy child development, nurturing skills, and coaching. Special emphasis is placed on connecting children to oral and primary health prevention education and services, early literacy efforts, and family engagement opportunities held onsite, twice per month.
Maternal and Family Health Services Inc. Nurse-Family Partnership $42,345
The Maternal and Family Health Services Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program is part of a national, high-quality research-based nurse visitation program that provides health education and screenings, counseling, life skills training and other prenatal intervention to first-time low-income expectant women and their babies. Bi-weekly home visits by an RN ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy for at-risk moms, healthy birth weight deliveries, and quality caregiving for the child during the first two years after birth. United Way funding will support staff time, educational materials and mileage.
Victims Resource Center Preventing Child Abuse $6,500
The Preventing Child Abuse Program is a sexual abuse prevention effort for children in Pre-K through 2nd grade. Grant funding is being used to provide educational presentations and companion materials emphasizing personal safety skills. A specially designed “No, Go, Tell” coloring book detailing the information presented will serve to repeat and reinforce the lesson and will provide an opportunity for children to share what they’ve learned with their parents/caregivers.
Volunteers in Medicine A Healthy Smile for a Healthy Start $30,000
Through the Healthy Smile for a Healthy Start Program, the Dental Clinic at Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) will partner with local child care centers and preschools to provide preventive dental education to at-risk children on topics such as the importance of dental hygiene, brushing, flossing and healthy dietary habits. Un/underinsured children identified as in need of oral health services will be connected to VIM’s Dental Clinic. Funding will support services such as dental cleanings, screenings and education, and application of sealants for children.
Volunteers of America Caring Alternatives $10,000
VOA’s Caring Alternatives Program provides health education, counseling, life skills training, and developmental screenings during the mother’s pregnancy and during the first year of the baby’s life. Funding will be used to expand home visitation services to include siblings in the program.
2019-20 Grants Made for SAFETY NET
The United Way of Wyoming Valley funds 15 programs at 10 agencies to support access to food, shelter and protective services.
Catholic Social Services Mother Teresa’s Haven $34,500
Mother Teresa’s Haven provides emergency shelter and supportive services to adult males experiencing homelessness in Wyoming Valley. The program offers intake and assessment services, transportation assistance to shelter sites and free health clinics, and referrals for transitional and permanent housing. Funding will be used to support direct service staff.
Commission on Economic Opportunity Emergency Temporary Housing $35,000
The Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO) Emergency Temporary Housing Program connects at-risk individuals and families in Wyoming Valley with case management services that can assist in obtaining emergency shelter, rent/mortgage assistance for eviction prevention, and utility assistance.
Commission on Economic Opportunity Material Aid $20,625
The Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO) Material Aid Program is a unique service that delivers much-needed relief to income-eligible individuals and families in Wyoming Valley. Through this grant, support is available to address a wide range of material aid needs such as shoes, clothing, school supplies, household items, and other goods necessary to maintain health and safety codes and standards.
Commission on Economic Opportunity Prescription Assistance $5,000
Prescription Assistance is a collaborative effort between the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), Wilkes University’s Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, and free health clinics operating in Wyoming Valley. Through case management services, the program connects un/underinsured families with access to immunizations and single course treatments for acute episodic conditions to reduce the number of school days or work days missed due to illness or injury.
Commission on Economic Opportunity Travelers’ Aid $10,000
Funded by United Way of Wyoming Valley, Traveler’s Aid connects at-risk income-eligible residents in need of public transportation and other means to locations within Wyoming Valley to maintain employment or access other necessary services. In addition, some funds will be used to provide a bus ticket to a home or intended destination outside of Wyoming Valley for transients who would otherwise be unable to access.
Domestic Violence Service Center Crisis Counseling $21,375
Funds will be used to support the Crisis Counseling Program at Domestic Violence Service Center. The 24-hour hotline for crisis intervention and counseling program serves individuals of all ages who have experienced domestic violence or assault. Counselors are specially trained to address the safety needs and concerns of domestic violence survivors. Individual counseling is available and victims can also be assisted with protection from abuse orders, shelter resources, and referrals for other health and human service needs.
Domestic Violence Service Center Emergency Shelter $34,500
Domestic Violence Service Center will use funds to support the Emergency Shelter Program, the only 24-hour emergency shelter to harbor battered women and their children. The shelter is a gateway to crisis intervention resources including adult counseling, safety planning, protection from abuse hearings and parenting education. Special emphasis is placed on children who are able to continue their schooling, receive counseling, and are offered a variety of supportive activities to help them to feel safe and secure during a challenging time.
Family Service Association of NEPA 2-1-1 NE/Help Line $50,000
United Way funding will be used to support Family Service Association’s 2-1-1 NE/Help Line, a comprehensive health and human services information and referral program in Wyoming Valley. 2-1-1 NE/Help Line provides residents with access to information and referral services via an 800 number, website or by simply dialing 2-1-1. Help Line/PA 2-1-1 is a free resource.
The Salvation Army Food Assistance $5,000
The Salvation Army’s Food Assistance program operates three days per week from its Wilkes-Barre and West Pittston locations to deliver 5 days of food to screened income-eligible clients. Funds will be used to purchase emergency food supplies.
Victims Resource Center Sexual Assault Support Services $40,000
Victims Resource Center’s (VRC) Sexual Assault Support Services is a multi-pronged approach to addressing sexual assault in Wyoming Valley. VRC maintains a 24-hour crisis and support hotline and trained certified counselors are available to provide counseling to assault victims, as well as to non-offending parents and partners, accompaniment to law enforcement and court offices, prevention education and information and referrals for additional support, as needed.
Volunteers of America Dial-A-Driver Program $10,000
Funding will be used to support the Dial-A-Driver program, which provides door-to-door transportation services to help older or disabled adults who live independently continue to meet their basic needs. Dial-A-Driver transports individuals to medical appointments to ensure they maintain medical compliance, and they help with shopping for groceries to ensure nutrition needs are met.
Volunteers of America Ruth’s Place $34,500
Established in 2003, Ruth's Place provides safe, short-term emergency shelter and case management services for women experiencing homelessness in Luzerne County. Funding will be used to support personnel for intake and assessment, case management and referrals to other community service providers.
Volunteers in Medicine Patient Centered Comprehensive Care $50,000
The Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic serves the working uninsured of Wyoming Valley. Funding will be used to support personnel costs associated with the program and to increase the inventory of pharmaceuticals, and medical and diagnostic testing supplies for un/underinsured children and their families facing immediate threats to their well-being.