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Orange County United Way Reports Progress In Creating Healthier, Stronger, More Educated Community

Orange County United Way Reports Progress in Creating Healthier, Stronger, More Educated Community

Third annual “FACE 2024” Scorecard Report unveiled before 250 business, community, government and education leaders

Kaiser Permanente announced $150,000 donation towards homelessness initiative  

Irvine, CA, April 4, 2018 — More Orange County students are staying in school and fewer families are struggling financially, but significant challenges in the community remain, according to Orange County United Way’s third annual FACE 2024 Scorecard Report. The county update was presented before an audience of more than 250 business, community, government and education leaders gathered at Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine on March 29.

Orange County United Way uses the FACE 2024 Scorecard to track the success of a 10-year comprehensive effort to achieve substantial and sustainable change in the community. United Way leaders reported that the conditions facing Orange County families and children in four measured areas remain mixed, but some positive progress will result in long-term success.

Specifically, the countywide high school dropout rate is down to 5.4% from a high of 9.5% five years earlier, while the number of financially unstable families has dropped from 39% to 30%.

Of concern is the fact that the percentage of homeless or housing insecure children in Orange County continues to creep upward, from 5.2% to 5.5%, with the rise of housing costs. To support the homelessness crisis in the community, Kaiser Permanente surprised the audience with a $150,000 gift to help the United to End Homelessness initiative led by Orange County United Way.

Additionally troubling is the rate of childhood obesity, which, while lower than in some years, seems to be on the rise. Nearly one-third of Orange County children remain overweight or obese with too many lacking access to healthy food choices and safe places to play.

To address this trend, Orange County United Way launched the Healthy Schools Initiative, a collaboration with schools and the community to provide healthier choices for food and beverages, increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe play, and advocating for policy and systemic changes to sustain these efforts.

“Too many of our children don’t have the access they need to proper nutrition and safe places to play,” said Sue Parks, president and CEO of Orange County United Way. “The Healthy Schools Initiative is aimed at reducing childhood obesity by addressing children at one of the most prominent places in their lives: their schools. Healthier children achieve higher test scores and have a better chance to grow up to become healthy adults.”

Keynote speaker Anne Ferree, Chief Strategy and Partnership Officer from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, spoke about the importance of collaboration in improving children’s health and battling obesity.

Childhood obesity has its roots in a number of societal issues, including poverty, but Ferree pointed to successes in school-based initiatives that used proven strategies to equip children and families with the resources and education they need to conquer obesity and improve their health.

The Scorecard indicated that many of the neighborhoods and cities where families are struggling showed significant challenges in all four areas. Challenges related to hunger impacting progress in school, financial struggles impacting housing security, and housing security impacting a child’s educational success. United Way leaders recognized these interconnected challenges early on in the development of the FACE 2024 action plan and knew it would require a holistic approach and solution.

“We continue to see that school performance, homelessness, financial stability, hunger and health are all connected and need to be addressed as a whole,” Parks said. “You can’t solve one piece of the puzzle in a vacuum, they all need to be addressed in a strategic and comprehensive way.”

Collaboration remains the community’s greatest strength. The FACE 2024 plan includes initiatives and partnerships with organizations, agencies and private companies that have proven to make the most significant changes in education, financial stability, health and housing. Some of these programs include Destination Graduation, providing a path on which middle and high school students can achieve success and graduate on time; SparkPoint OC, helping families create step-by-step personal finance plans to tackle their specific needs; Healthy Schools Initiative, an evidence-based effort that partners with parents, school districts, agencies and community organizations to empower schools to promote the health and well-being of their community; and Rapid Re-housing helping Orange County families with children that are homeless or unstably housed move into permanent housing.

“Working collectively to solve these challenges, we can have a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of Orange County children,” Parks said. “We have seen how powerfully positive community partnerships can be and we welcome continued joint efforts to create lasting changes in the lives of Orange County’s families and children.”

Edwards Lifesciences generously sponsored and hosted the FACE 2024 Scorecard event. Michael Mussallem, CEO of Edwards Lifesciences, shared his perspective on why it’s important that the community supports United Way’s FACE 2024 goals: “We are facing some real and serious issues here in our own backyard, and it’s our role to come together and create serious solutions to those issues to better Orange County.”

Kaiser Permanente and AT&T were also sponsors of this year’s event.

To view the results of Orange County United Way’s FACE 2024 Scorecard Report, click here.


NEWS CONTACTS:

Chelsea Thompson
Cornerstone Communications 949.200.6112, cthompson@cornerstonecomms.com


ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY UNITED WAY: 

Today’s Orange County United Way fights for the Education, Health, Housing and Financial Stability of every person in Orange County. We focus on long-term solutions to the most critical interconnected challenges facing local children and families. Through our 10-year collaborative, community-wide action plan, “FACE 2024” (an acronym for Fund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), by 2024 we will cut the high school dropout rate in half, increase the number of healthy youth by one-third, cut the percentage of homeless and housing-insecure children in half and reduce the percentage of financially unstable families by 25%. By mobilizing local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals, we make a long-term measurable difference in our community. UNITED4OC, we change the lives of adults and children right here in Orange County and create a brighter future for every one of us. To learn more or to join our fight, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.

 

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