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Look up: together we’ll strengthen the Quad Cities

Eyebrows furrow. Shoulders shrug. Eyes cast downward. We’ve all been in that moment when “good enough” is the achievement.

Then, we look up. We lift our heads and see our community’s champions challenging the status quo.

We see leaders like Reverend Dwight Ford working relentlessly to restore lives and rebuild communities.  We see heroes like Tracy White mentoring at-risk young African American boys to help them find their best life path. We see our business community and legions of volunteers like entrepreneur, Sean Moeller, investing countless hours to make big community goals a reality through Q2030.

The people who inspire me to look up are countless. They fuel my vision: a Quad Cities where all people have the opportunity for a successful life - no matter the obstacles in their way.

It’s through the United Way that I see my vision becoming a reality. I joined United Way because of its commitment to strengthen the Quad Cities, fight for every person and create the conditions to help more people live better lives.

Our region is full of individuals who give their time, talent, voice and financial support to causes they’re most passionate about. Over the last year, more than 14,000 Quad Citizens and 345 companies helped create lasting change by participating as volunteers, advocates and donors to the United Way. These resources allowed us to bring people, organizations and investments together to collectively tackle some of the most complex challenges in our community. 

An investment in the United Way impacts our community.  Check out these stats:  
  • Giving children a strong start.  United Way and impact partners provided knowledge and resources for 5,612 families/caregivers/decision makers – resulting in 403 children showing improvement in kindergarten readiness.
  • Developing tomorrow’s talent. Seventy-one percent of at-risk youth served through our funded agencies developed a plan for post-secondary education. 
  • Building stronger and healthier families.  More than 5,000 individuals received mental health services to treat trauma or behavioral challenges. Nearly 38,000 individuals sought services from our impact partners.   
  • Creating economic opportunities for all. Two hundred and thirteen individuals secured a new job. Three hundred and seventy-two unemployed/under-employed people enrolled in an accredited adult education program.
Together, we’re making progress. But we need to do more. The poverty rate in our region is increasing at a faster pace than the median wage. We cannot stand still. We have to aim higher.
Moving children and families on a path out of poverty is not a once-a-year effort.  It is a year-round marathon. It is complex work, requiring innovative approaches, flexibility, calculated risks and most importantly, a long view. In the coming year, all of us at United Way will be guided by the belief that we can and must do more. 
We will: 
  • Build consensus on loftier goals, clearer objectives and strategies based on solid research.
  • Strengthen community collaboration, civic engagement and partnerships. 
  • Become better able to respond to the emerging philanthropic priorities of our corporate partners.  
  • Commit to innovation, challenging both our partners and ourselves to find new and better ways of working. 
  • Champion and support a strong social services nonprofit sector. 
  • Build community awareness and understanding of key social issues facing the Quad Cities. 
  • Make our own internal operations more efficient and effective. 
In the two months since I became United Way’s President & CEO, I’ve been inspired to look up by more community champions than I can count. I’m honored to work side-by-side with our local stewards of change. I’m grateful to be a part of the United Way team and the grass roots movement to help more Quad Citizens live their best possible lives. 
I look forward to taking our momentum from 2018 and doing more to transform the quality of life for all in our region - getting more kids ready for school, more families stable and self-sufficient and more people healthy. 
Together, we can make our Quad Cities stronger and more prosperous for everyone. Here’s to looking up to a brighter future.  
Happy New Year!
Rene Gellerman
President & CEO