Bettendorf, Iowa (July 31, 2019) – Today, United Way of the Quad Cities launched the African American Leadership Society (AALS). The African American Leadership Society is a new donor network formed under the umbrella of United Way of the Quad Cities. AALS is made up of local people linked by a common interest to harness the power of African American philanthropy. AALS works to ensure the growth, sustainability and impact of leaders and organizations committed to improving the life outcomes of our region’s African American young people.
“AALS members are invested in amplifying efforts that develop opportunities for African American youth to live healthy and successful lives. We have a dedicated group of individuals supporting this cause, and we’re looking forward to the results we can achieve together,” said Rev. Dwight Ford, Grace City Church and AALS tri-chair.
African American youth in the Quad Cities face many disparities. According to the 2019 Quad Cities Educational Data Exchange, in the Quad Cities, 42.8 percent of African American students are reading proficiently by the end of third grade as compared to 73.9 percent of Caucasian students. More than half (56.6 percent) of Quad Cities African American preschool students live in poverty as compared to only 15.3 percent of Caucasian preschool students, according to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2017 five-year estimates.
AALS is kicking off its donor network with three main goals. The first is to gather 100 volunteers to assist with targeted programs focused on addressing critical education gaps. The second is to assemble 100 male mentors for local African American boys. The final goal is for 100 investors to contribute to changing the lives of African American Quad Citizens.
“We have concrete goals in-place that will help guide us as we start this journey together,” said Randy Moore, Iowa-American Water president and AALS tri-chair. “It’s incredible what we can accomplish when we work together. Today’s lunch was proof of how many passionate community members care about helping our African American youth. We’re building a future for AALS, and we’re committed to building a brighter future for our youth.”
A special lunch this afternoon celebrated the significant milestone of the group’s official launch with an invigorating performance from a local gospel group, The Gospel Soul Revivers. Attendees also learned more about AALS’ plans and programs to help support the local African American community.
AALS is focused on creating opportunities for African American youth to find success. Anyone can join AALS by becoming a leadership donor ($1,000 or more annually) at United Way of the Quad Cities. The new network is led by an astute group of 18 African American volunteers that serve as part of an organized Steering Committee. As a donor network formed under the umbrella of United Way of the Quad Cities, this network will be managed by Tracy White of United Way of the Quad Cities.
“It takes the dedication of the community-at-large to change some of these disheartening statistics,” said Ryan Saddler, director of St. Ambrose University Diversity and Accessibility Resource Center and AALS tri-chair. “These aren’t just numbers. They’re children’s lives and futures. We can’t let our African American youth fall behind from the start. By investing in their futures, we’re helping create a healthier, stronger region.”