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Creating Bold Social Change Takes a Community United

Creating Bold Social Change Takes A Community United

Orange County’s FACE 2024 Report, a Community Snapshot T-Minus 9 Years

In 2014, United Way moved from business as usual to a major evolution. We shifted as an organization primarily focused on funding programs to mobilizing the community to help change critical conditions facing our county. After an 18-month engagement process with the community, a 10-year strategic plan emerged called FACE 2024.

Operating at the intersection of the public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, United Way is uniquely positioned to convene and mobilize the Orange County community to address the local issues identified as most significant: education, income, health and housing. Specific 2024 goals include:

  • Cut high school dropout rate in half
  • Reduce the percentage of financially unstable families by 25 percent
  • Increase the number of healthy youth by one-third, as measured by childhood obesity rates
  • Cut the percentage of homeless and housing-insecure children in half

The first full year’s work was recently presented during our inaugural FACE 2024 Report event at the corporate headquarters of Edwards Lifesciences, a longtime United Way supporter. The 60-minute program, sponsored by Bank of America, set the stage for key stakeholders, corporate partners, community partners and local leaders.

The results we shared showed early progress toward our goals, as well as the work that is ahead and how residents can become part of the solution. While the focus areas of Education and Health have shown improvement, Income and Housing continue to play a significant challenge for working families and children. While the statistics are compelling and demand attention, it is the stories from people who are served that bring our work to life.


Students like Rudolfo, who was destined to be the next high school dropout. Rudolfo found himself falling behind, with no time or energy to study since he worked with his dad on graveyard shifts, while also pressured to join the wrong crowds. Fortunately, Rudolfo is a determined young man and he entered into the Destination Graduation program, where he got the support he needed to get on track and excel in school while discovering a world of opportunities including college. When Rudolfo was a senior, he became student body President and is now the first in his family to attend college. This young man is going places.


When Jaime became unexpectedly single, he needed assistance to find a better paying job to support his 13-year-old son. Jaime got job readiness training, placement assistance and guidance with job interviews that lead him to the job he holds today. He will never forget how it felt when his son told him how proud he was of him when he got his new job. This is a man who now loves Mondays.


When Latasha left an abusive marriage, she also lost her job. She found herself a single-mother with three children, struggling with depression and homelessness. It was a devastating situation but she was single-minded in her desire to create a better life for her family. Guided by her case manager in a Rapid Rehousing program, Latasha found a new home. This stability allowed her to focus on employment and her mental health. Today she is supporting her family and happy that her children are doing well in school.

These are just three examples of real change happening in our community, and there are many more—but not nearly enough. Certainly we have made some gains, there are still very troubling trends we continue to address to improve conditions. However, United Way is in it for the long haul and we are determined to change the story for many more local children and families. It will take dedicated volunteers, significant funding and caring community members who will speak up for policy change. No one thing or one organization will solve the issues, but together, we can create lasting change that will create a stronger, more united Orange County.



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