United Way of Lebanon County has recently awarded twelve Community Impact Grants totaling over $150,000. The following programs were selected by United Way’s volunteer-led Impact Committee and approved for funding by the Board of Directors at their May meeting. These programs were selected because the work they do closely aligns with United Way of Lebanon County’s areas of focus to connect families to resources, break barriers to learning for our young students, and to make sure that all our children and families are set up for a strong start:
Big Brothers Big Sisters: Youth Mentoring in Lebanon County
United Way of Lebanon County’s funding will support Big Brothers Big Sisters in providing customized, one-to-one mentoring to children of Lebanon County through community-based and school-based programs. Referred to as Bigs and Littles, both programs match an at-risk child with a mentor who meets with the child two to four times per month and receive ongoing support for the life of the match.
Impact: Through mentorship, positive relationship development and consistent role modeling alongside simple, everyday activities, each mentor empowers a child to reach their full potential in spite of challenges and obstacles they may face.
Chalkboard Financial: #Preventdebt Workshop
United Way of Lebanon County's Community Impact Grant will support Chalkboard Financial's #preventdebt workshops, which are presented to local high school students to empower and equip them with personal financial education and career guidance.
Impact: By educating school-aged students about how to manage their personal finances, they will be set up to break generational cycles of poverty and ultimately help build a stronger, more prosperous Lebanon County.
Community Health Council of Lebanon County: Lebanon County Youth Advisory Board
The Community Impact Grant provided by United Way of Lebanon County will support the Youth Advisory Board, a youth driven group of local high school students who seek to improve the health and wellness of all Lebanon County youth and families through awareness campaigns and events for their peers; and to act as a formal sounding-board for use by community coalitions that design programs and interventions for youth and families.
Impact: The Youth Advisory Board will design and produce at least two research-informed health campaigns to benefit their peers, neighbors, and community focused on social beliefs; decreasing 30-day usage of various substances; and connecting more community members with providers/their programs.
Girls on the Run: Empowering Girls in Lebanon County to lead Healthy Lives
United Way of Lebanon County funding will inspire Lebanon County girls in third through eighth grades to be joyful, healthy, and confident through an afterschool curriculum that is fun, experienced-based and creatively integrates running. With the guidance of volunteer coaches, girls train to complete a 5K, by running or walking alongside their running buddy, and they connect and build confidence on their journey.
Impact: The challenges and life disruptions of the pandemic has increased behavioral health concerns and unhealthy copy mechanisms, with a severe impact to girls ages 12 through 17. Girls on the Run's unique curriculum stresses how a healthy lifestyle can be empowering and offers guidance on how to prevent risky lifestyle choices that can be prevalent during these vulnerable years.
Lebanon County Christian Ministries: Free Noon Meal
United Way of Lebanon County’s Community Impact Grant will support The Free Noon Meal program, which offers a daily meal to residents of Lebanon County that is prepared and served by community volunteers.
Impact: Beyond helping to address issues of food insecurity for residents of Lebanon County, the Free Noon Meal offers participants a daily opportunity to enjoy fellowship and make personal connections, avoiding isolation and offering a sense of normalcy.
Lebanon County Libraries: Summer Learning Program
Community Impact Grant funding will support the Summer Learning Program being offered at all six Lebanon County public libraries. Children set reading goals, earn incentives when they meet those goals, and continue the habit of reading during summer break. Families attend programs at the libraries with storytellers, musicians, STEM activities, and more, engaging them with the library and library staff, and with each other as they explore new ideas and try new activities at home.
Impact: The driving force behind the Summer Learning Program is for children and families to build a love of reading, not just read to pass a test or satisfy curricula. Through a combination of reading goals and incentives, plus family engagement programs that encourage kids to read and learn over the summer, the Summer Learning Program helps prevent summer learning loss. The Summer Learning Program also reduces the risk of increased social isolation, decreased physical activity, and a loss of the basic skills and habits necessary to learning.
Lebanon Family Health Services: The Basics Lebanon Valley
Community Impact Grant funds through United Way of Lebanon County will support expansion of The Basics Lebanon Valley, the first Basics community in the state of Pennsylvania. The Basics is an evidence-based strategy to support learning and brain development among infants and toddlers. This strategy will be incorporated more broadly into programs and services offered through Lebanon Family Health Services.
Impact: Eighty percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life. This early learning initiative for both parents and children is a vital step to provide equitable care and opportunities for youth in Lebanon County regardless of their race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
Lebanon Valley Family YMCA: Freer Family Youth Center
United Way's Community Impact Grant funding will support the Freer Family Youth Center at the YMCA, which serves youth in sixth through twelfth grade after school from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. The youth have a designated area in the YMCA that includes classrooms, a commercial grade kitchen, a large open space for meeting, games, and activities, as well as access to the gymnasium. Additionally, the youth play an integral part in planting, harvesting, and caring for our community garden.
Impact: Offering this safe space for youth will give them the opportunity to connect with others who are facing similar experiences and challenges. Through these connections and relationships with peers and the youth mentors, healing, empowerment, and resilience can take place.
Luthercare: System Aligned in Learning (SAIL)
United Way of Lebanon County funding will support efforts to close the school readiness gap that exists between preschool-age children who benefit from high-quality, center-based learning environments and those who are cared for by in-home providers. Through the Community Impact Grant, SAIL will be able to maintain relationships with current in-home providers, increase the number of in-home providers served in Lebanon County and ensure that SAIL's mentors can continue to offer needed support to many lower income in-home providers. SAIL is helping these small business owners remain in business, increase the quality-of-care children receive, and help to close the Kindergarten readiness gap.
Impact: The SAIL Program works to make sure all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, has the chance to thrive in school. SAIL serves families who need the most help in Lebanon County.
Power Packs Project: Milk Matters!
United Way of Lebanon County funding will support the Milk Matters! program in providing one quart of 1%, fresh milk to every family in Lebanon County enrolled in Power Packs.
Impact: Providing milk, along with food and all the items necessary for a family to cook and enjoy a healthy meal together each week is essential to children being able to learn and thrive in school. The educational component of Power Packs is critical to achieving the goal of systemic change and changing behavior among the participating children and their families.
Supportive Housing Improving Foster Transition (SHIFT): Home Creators
United Way of Lebanon County funding will help young adults at risk of homelessness, particularly those aging out of foster care, by providing affordable housing and supporting their transition to adulthood. The Home Creators program supports these individuals by meeting their basic needs while they focus on working towards their long-term goals, including employment and education.
Impact: Research shows that without stable housing, young people face challenges with staying in school, gaining employment, accessing physical and mental health services, and reaching self-sufficiency. The Home Creators program focuses on providing safe and stable housing first and then supports the remaining areas of need through mentorship and partnerships with other local organizations.
WEPA Empowerment Center: Grandmother's Council - Abuelas Consejo
Funding through United Way of Lebanon County's Community Impact Grant will support the Grandmother's Council - Abuelas Consejo. This outreach and supportive services program offered by WEPA Empowerment Center cultivates investment and understanding of cultural roots and traditions. It serves as a moral conscience and guiding light for family members in their interactions at home, school, work and in the community.
Impact: Monthly workshops and community events will tap into the valuable resource that grandparents, in general, are to families and create a connection point to address barriers families are experiencing on a daily basis.
United Way of Lebanon County is proud to be celebrating 70 years of service to the local community. “Throughout our history, we have raised funds to ensure support is available for community members who often face more than one problem - from poverty, to hunger, to isolation, and poor mental health. Now more than ever, our neighbors need our help. We rely on data to understand how current challenges are affecting our community and make grant funding decisions to create lasting change for local children and families,” says Julia Krall, Executive Director.