In 2011, United Way of the Midlands’ (UWM) Board of Directors convened a task force to develop a robust and meaningful strategic plan that would best position the organization to serve the area’s most vulnerable populations, in a community that has evolved substantially since UWM opened in 1923. Through this strategic planning process, as well as through multiple input sessions, the need for UWM to create focus and priority became clear.
To gain a better understanding of the challenges currently facing our most vulnerable neighbors, UWM partnered with the Iowa West Foundation (IWF), Omaha Community Foundation (OCF) and with the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation to conduct a comprehensive community assessment in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie counties. In total, nearly 4,700 community members participated in various portions of the study, resulting in collection of qualitative and quantitative data through surveys, focus groups and interactive world café discussions.
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At the conclusion of the assessment, UWM management provided recommendations to the UWM Board for the organization’s future direction. United Way’s Board of directors approved the proposals on March 25, 2014.
Through the work of the community assessment, many complex problems were identified and discussed recognizing that several interrelating causes cannot easily be isolated. To examine a complex problem, a system must be employed to address and likely more realistically influence the issues.
Through the assessment, seven themes emerged: