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United Way Prosperity Summit Plan Announced

A United Way study last year found that 30 percent of families in Shasta County made insufficient income to make ends meet! Last week more than 30 civic and non-profit leaders have endorsed a three-prong plan  aimed at promoting financial stability, job readiness and life skills for Shasta County youth and families.

The plan emerged from the 1½-year Prosperity Initiative, coordinated by United Way of Northern California in partnership with the County of Shasta. Nearly 100 people from the non-profit, civic, faith and business sectors worked on committees to research, debate and devise the proposals.

Participants at the wrap-up Prosperity Summit, held last week at the Turtle Bay Museum, called for appointment of a high-level steering committee to guide implementation of the plan, including a community-wide awareness and fund-raising campaign.

“We now have a common-sense, concrete blueprint that will lead to more hope and better opportunities for county residents, and especially for youth,” said Greg Balkovek, chair of the United Way Board of Directors, who participated in the summit.

Other leaders present included Redding City Manager Kurt Starman, Redding Council Member Kristen Schreder, and officials from Shasta County, McConnell Foundation, Shasta Regional Community Foundation, Tri Counties Bank, Redding Bank of Commerce, Shasta Community Health Center, Shasta Family YMCA, Shasta College and other organizations.

Larry Olmstead, president and CEO of United Way of Northern California, said full implementation of the plan will require a campaign to raise more than $1 million over the next three years. United Way is fully committed to leading that campaign, he said.

“This community can do this,” Olmstead said. “For each of our three planks, there are enthusiastic partners who already are laying the groundwork for program implementation and success.”

The Prosperity Initiative aims to help reverse key negative social indicators related to income, health and education in Shasta County.

The latest County Health study prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed Shasta ranking No. 50 among the state’s 58 counties. The most recent American Community Survey showed a median household income of $44,651, compared to $61,094 statewide. Some 18.8 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 31.4 percent statewide.

(from a press release)