United Way Launches 20-Year Project to End Poverty

Through a Facebook Live video this morning, United Way California Capital Region announced that all of its work for the next 20 years will focus on ending poverty by increasing the number of local kids who graduate from high school prepared for success in college and beyond. United Way’s Square One Project will bring together the organization’s work over the last decade as the project focuses on educational milestones for children and the resources they need to succeed in school, including early literacy support, access to nutritious food, stable homes, support systems and more.

“This is our most ambitious project in our 90-year-history,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “If we want to see real change happen in our community, we have to break the cycle of poverty that’s passed down from one generation to another. There is one place in the community where we can do that best – and that’s school.”

Sacramento-area kids who graduate from college are 62 percent less likely to live in poverty than those who drop out of high school, according to United Way and the nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development. United Way’s Square One Project is bringing together community leaders, schools, government, nonprofits, volunteers and donors across five counties to make sure kids stay in school, stay on track, have high expectations for what they can achieve, and have strong support systems.

United Way is launching the Square One Project through a partnership with Robla School District in Sacramento. To make sure kids can come to school every day, United Way and Robla School District are providing case managers at schools through a grant to help the 500 homeless families in the district secure stable housing and other support. United Way’s Healthy Meals ensures kids have enough to eat in their after-school programs so they have fuel for their brains. United Way also is providing tutors to help kids meet reading and math milestones so they stay on track. United Way’s Young Leaders Society is helping families start saving for higher education by raising matching funds for college savings accounts so that kids have high expectations of continuing school.

“We’re excited to be one of the first school districts where the Square One Project has launched,” said Ruben Reyes, superintendent, Robla School District. “This is a district with a lot of need, but a lot of awesome kids who are going to do amazing things in our community, thanks to our work with United Way.”

Through the Square One Project, United Way also will work with school districts throughout Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties to fill gaps in resources so kids have the best chance at success.

“We know ending poverty starts in school, but it’s going to take whole communities to make this happen across our region,” Bray said. “I hope everyone will find their way to join us at Square One so kids can create a better life for themselves, their community and the next generation.”

To donate or volunteer for United Way’s Square One Project, visit www.squareoneproject.org.