We are eager to support any effort that will push us closer to our community goals, however the Community Impact Team at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has identified some key need areas in our community. Special consideration will be given to innovations that tackle these gaps.
Higher Education Persistence
- Within the United Way service area 43% of graduating seniors are not college ready.
- Between 2011 and 2016, only 60% of first-time, full-time enrolled students seeking a bachelor’s degree graduated within 6 years.
- We know that 21st century jobs that pay a living wage increasingly require employees to have some form of higher education. In order for the next generation to be successful we need to support them until they earn a credential, not just a high school diploma.
Career Exploration for Youth
- House Bill 5 established a set of criteria for students to identify areas of career interest early and connecting them with career pathways. Pathways are in one of five endorsement areas: STEM, Business and Industry, Arts & Humanities, Public Services, and Multidisciplinary.
- Beginning in middle-school students begin to explore endorsement areas and complete career surveys.
- In order for our youth to learn and be exposed to real-world settings, we seek programs that can help connect students with opportunities to explore careers in new and exciting ways.
Teacher Preparedness and Development
- Many of our educators leave the profession due to stress, lack of support and negative school culture. Nearly 1 in 3 public school teachers in Texas quit before reaching their sixth year. Teachers are trained to deliver high quality instruction but are often not given the tools to manage many of the outside challenges students bring into the classroom.
- Programs that provide tools and resources for up and coming educators as well as veteran teachers frame education in a holistic manner, addressing the full scope of unique needs each student has.
Early Childhood Education
- Texas has the largest and fastest growing early childhood population in the country, a significant portion of who are developmentally at risk. History and research show that there is a gap between low-income and middle-class families in terms of kindergarten readiness, which is a huge concern because the research is clear. Only 34% of children in our service area are arriving to kindergarten ready to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. High quality Pre-K programming is a region wide need and can help bridge the learning gap for young children.
- Research indicates that single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is being read to at home prior to beginning school. The lack of access to books is the main reason why parents do not read to their child. 61% of low-income families do not have books suitable for a child in their homes. Children who have not already developed basic literacy practices when they enter kindergarten are four times more likely to drop out in later years.
- Ninety percent of brain development occurs in the first five years of life yet access to high-quality care for children birth to five years of age tends to be extremely limited, especially for low-income families. 60% of mothers cite the lack of reliable, affordable, and conveniently located child care as one of the top reasons they are unable to work. Addressing these needs requires a dual-generation approach where children have access to the best possible early educational experiences and parents have the support and resources they need to thrive.
Building Personal Financial Capability
Access to high quality financial education classes, counseling, and/or coaching can make all the difference for low-to-moderate income families. Learning the tools and techniques to managing your family’s financial future is the first step to financial stability.
- According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), 39% of families in City of Dallas live in asset poverty, which means they would not be able to live above the federal poverty line for three consecutive months if the major source of family income were lost.
- 68% of Dallas residents have subprime credit scores and 16% don’t have a relationship with a mainstream financial institution.
Giving Kids the Tools to Save for the Future
Studies show that children with savings accounts are twice as likely to develop the expectation to attend college compared to children without savings accounts. Providing youth of all ages access high quality, evidence-based, age-appropriate financial education programming and access to college savings accounts give them the tools to build a better future.
- The average grade in the most recent Jump$tart Survey of Personal Financial Literacy for High School Students (2008) was an F (47.5%).
- 91% of undergraduates have at least one credit card, yet only 26% of teens report understanding credit card interest and fees.
Meet Employees Where they are with Financial Education
The workplace is a prime location for reaching adults with financial education. Training programs at work can be specifically designed to meet the skill needs of growing local industries.
- 48% of working-age individuals in Dallas lack education beyond high school, yet a growing number of living wage jobs require some form of post-secondary education.
Offer an Alternative to Payday Lending
Payday lenders prey on low-income individuals in our community, trapping them in a vicious cycle of debt. We need innovative programs, services, and/or products that extend credit, small-dollar loans, or small business loans to individuals who either have poor credit or would alternatively rely on payday lending institutions.
- The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) identifies “curb excessive payday and auto title loans” as one of three primary recommendations for improving financial stability in Texas.
- 68% of Dallas residents have subprime credit scores that typically disqualify them from accessing credit at mainstream financial institutions.
Connect workers with education and training needed for middle-skill jobs
Middle-skill jobs, which require education past high school but not a four year college degree, represent the fastest growing segment of jobs in the local economy. Nearly 42,000 middle-skill job openings are projected every year through 2018. The median hourly wage of middle-skill jobs is $24.47, so many offer good wages and a path to financial stability. Flexible training options, aligned with employer needs, to help more adults build basic skills and earn technical credentials at an accelerated pace would help increase the middle-skill workforce.
- Local employers have trouble finding skilled workers for these middle-skill positions. In healthcare, many middle-skill positions take 50% longer to fill than the regional average duration for open positions.
- In Texas, middle-skill jobs account for 55 percent of total jobs, but only 43 percent of the state’s workers are trained to the middle-skill level. In this region, too many adults lack even the basic academic skills required to start middle-skill job training. Approximately, 950,000 or 22% of the DFW adult population lack a high school diploma.
Increase Affordable Housing Units
- The City of Dallas says it needs 20,000 additional affordable housing units. Increasing the number of families living in mixed-income properties is key to bridging the socioeconomic gap.
- While the City of Dallas is taking progressive steps in increasing affordable housing units, more than 40 percent of area residents are renters and new multi-family housing is typically in the form of luxury apartments.
- It’s more cost-effective to build larger housing complexes than small, so the community needs innovative and creative organizations to create housing solutions outside of multi-million dollar housing complexes.
Promoting access to mental health services
We need solutions to ensure that all members are able to access affordable and high quality mental health programs. High uninsured rates combined with critical shortages in available services makes mental health care incredibly difficult for most low and moderate income families to access.
- 1 in 5 children (0-11) experience a mental disorder in a given year (MHPI 2016)
- 27% of youth experience disorders so severe that their ability to function is severely impaired (MHPI 2016)
- According to US Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20% of veterans have PTSD in a given year (MHPI 2016)
- 1 in 5 Texans have mental health needs (Texas Mental Health Landscape 2016)
Ensuring equitable access to healthy food for children and adults throughout our service region
One in four Texas kids is at risk of food insecurity each year, and these numbers are even higher in certain communities. Solutions might be impacting local production and distribution, accessible and affordable food retail, or finding other ways to get healthy food to the people who need it.
- 1 in 5 Dallas County residents is food insecure (Map the Meal Gap)
- Texas is 7th in the nation for child food insecurity (Map the Meal Gap)
- 70% (262,000) of Dallas County kids are eligible for free or reduced price meals
- Only 12% of eligible Texas kids participated in the Summer Meals program in 2014
- Kids who eat breakfast are 20% more likely to graduate from high school (No Kid Hungry 2013)
Continued support of programs addressing childhood obesity
Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults and are at increased risk for a host of poor health indicators. Though increasing focus is being paid to this health crisis, there is a need to create systemic changes to help kids be healthy and successful.
- 46% of Dallas County kids are overweight or obese, according to FitnessGram data
- Fitness is positively associated with academic achievement, attendance and behavior
- Obese children are 70% more likely to become obese adults
- Obesity has a strong economic impact on job performance and overall wellness
- Positive correlation with negative health outcomes such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers
- According to a 2013 Pew Research survey, 90% of Americans believe that schools should be implementing programs and policies to combat childhood obesity
Focus on healthy early childhoods and healthy families
Our community needs solutions to ensure that children are healthy and safe in the early years of their lives.
- Dallas County has an infant mortality rate of 6.6, which is higher than the national rate of 6.0 (Texas Department of State Health Services 2013)
- The leading cause of infant mortality is low birth weight and premature birth, the likelihood of both can be reduced with appropriate prenatal
- However, the study found that after 2010, the “reported maternal mortality rate for Texas doubled within a two-year period to levels not seen in other U.S. states.” (ReWire)
- Children with engaged fathers are healthier overall and their families are financially better off (National Fatherhood Initiative)
- Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy 2012), more likely to participate in federal programs (NCPTP 2016) and children born to teen mothers are less likely to receive appropriate health care and nutrition (com)
- The immunization coverage rate for 2-year-olds in Dallas County was 73.2% in 2012 (Centers for Disease Control)
- Only 6 programs were funded through the UWMD CIG Prevention panel
Promote equitable access to healthcare services, health education and health information
Despite improvements in recent years, Texas still has among the highest rates of individuals that are uninsured and even many with insurance struggle to find affordable and accessible health care. The health care system in this country is complicated and complex and our community needs solutions to ensure that all individuals are able to access health care and health information in a way that is useful and understandable for them.
- Women, minorities and low income individuals are disproportionally impacted by health disparities (Texas Center for Health Disparities 2016)
- African Americans, in particular, fare worse than the majority population on nearly all measures of health, including infant mortality; life expectancy; cancer, heart disease, stroke, and trauma incidence and mortality; and self-rated health status (National Center for Health Statistics 2005)
- Non-hispanic black women have the highest prevalence of obesity at 49.6%, compared to a prevalence of 35.5% for all women (Kitzman-Ulrich 2015)
- Only 12% of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion 2016)
- Multiple research studies suggest that improving health literacy could help to reduce health disparities (Saha 2006)