Advocate.pngEach year United Way works with legislators, communities, programs and leaders across the state of Iowa to establish mission-driven public policy goals and priorities to achieve systemic changes.

United Way’s advocacy work is focused on:

  • Developing relationships with elected officials from both parties at all levels of


  • Sharing what we have learned from our initiatives and heard from the community

  • Focusing on where we align with others and working with allies to collectively drive change

Below are tools, references, and information regarding United Way's advocacy efforts in Iowa. 

Subscribe to Legislative Updates


Scroll down to see United Way's 2018 legislative scorecard.

Legislative Priorities

Explore some of the issues we're advocating for more in-depth: 

Cliff Effect


Childhood Trauma

Advocacy Resources

Iowa General Assembly


Learn about current legislation, committee meetings and legislatures at the Iowa General Assembly website.

Iowa Governor


This website includes press releases, commentary and constituent services for Iowa’s governor.


Find Your Legislators


To engage in advocacy, it is important to know who represents you at the Iowa Capitol and in Washington, D.C.


Nonprofit Advocacy & Lobbying

Can nonprofits lobby? What is legal? The following sites are useful resources for nonprofits engaging in public policy and advocacy

2018 Legislative Priorities & Results

Each year United Way of Central Iowa and other United Ways around the state collaborate to develop our top priorities for the Iowa legislature in the areas of education, income and health, the building blocks for a good quality of life. Our work to advocate for public policy changes to work toward achieving our goals for 2020 happen both directly through face to face meetings with legislators, leaders, and influencers in our community, and indirectly by helping all central Iowans to engage their legislators regarding these issues.

Below are the legislative priorities that were identified for the 2018 legislative session, and a summary of their progress at the end of session. Download a PDF of our 2018 Legislative Scorecard for a printable summary.


One in four Iowa children does not read proficiently by the end of third grade—a strong predictor of future education success. United Way of Central Iowa supports policies to increase the number of Iowa children reading proficiently by the end of third grade, a key indicator of high school graduation.

  • Support the Future Ready Iowa Alliance recommendation to identify and scale early academic and career development approaches.
    OBJECTIVE ACCOMPLISHED:  United Way served on the Future Ready Iowa Alliance and helped develop recommendations that informed this bill. Highlights include establishing a last-dollar scholarship for Iowans seeking post-secondary education and a public-private Innovation Fund to support wraparound services and expanded work-based learning.


United Way of Central Iowa advocates for policies that enable Iowans to upskill and sustain employment to increase income.

  • Eliminate the child care “cliff effect” by expanding Child Care Assistance income eligibility and adjusting provider reimbursement rates.

    United Way, the Child and Family Policy Center, and a coalition of organizations advocated for the expansion of the state’s Child Care Assistance program. As part of the Health and Human Services appropriations process, a two-pronged proposal was presented: 1) increase the child care provider reimbursement rate for infants and toddlers and 2) expand the program’s income eligibility limits.

    OBJECTIVE ACCOMPLISHED: The Legislature agreed to increase the provider rate for infants and toddlers to the 75th percentile of 2014 market rate for Quality Rating System (QRS) participating providers. Quality initiative funding will be used to increase this provider rate. An additional $3 million was appropriated to address low reimbursement rates for participating QRS providers at or below 50 percent of market rate. With increases in provider rates, Child Care Assistance participating providers could make additional child care slots available statewide, helping to alleviate child care deserts. The entire provider rate increase will cost $8.6 million.

  •  Repeal automatic driver’s license suspension for non-driving drug offenders.

    OBJECTIVE ACCOMPLISHED: United Way, the OpportUNITY Re-Entry Taskforce and coalition partners successfully advocated for the opt-out of the federal requirement to automatically revoke the driver’s licenses of non-driving drug offenders through SJR 2007. This two-part process required the House and Senate pass a joint resolution and the Governor to certify the decision to opt-out of the federal law without loss of federal funding. The second step was repealing automatic revocation as a criminal offense from Iowa code. The enabling language was adopted through the Standings Appropriations process.

  • Work to advance state engagement with the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training program (SNAP E&T).

    OBJECTIVE ACCOMPLISHED: Establish a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) interim workgroup to explore better state engagement focused on increasing the skills of SNAP participants and drawing additional federal funding. An expanded SNAP E&T program will help low-income Iowans access more education and training offerings.

  • Adult Education Funding

    OBJECTIVE ACCOMPLISHED: United Way's focus areas in adult education were funded at status quo levels: Pathways for Academic Career and Employment Fund: $5,000,000, GAP Tuition Assistance: $2,000,000, Adult Education and Literacy Programs: $5,500,000.


United Way of Central Iowa advocates for a comprehensive, holistic approach to health and well-being, focused on prevention and addressing root causes of poor health outcomes.

  • Suicide prevention and mitigation of Toxic Stress Response

    OBJECTIVE ACCOMPLISHED: United Way and the Iowa Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs 360) Coalition advocated for including annual adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress response training for all school employees. This policy will advance a trauma-informed care approach to identify and connect students with the resources they need.

  • Childhood obesity prevention funding.

    OBJECTIVE ACCOMPLISHED: Funding for childhood obesity prevention was increased by $300,000 from FY18 levels to $494,993. These funds are housed in the Iowa Department of Public Health and help support the 5-2-1-0 initiative of United Way of Central Iowa and the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative.

  • Physical education data collection.

    PROGRESS MADE: To better understand the driving factors of childhood obesity and wellness, UWCI advocated for data collection on physical education programs and infrastructure offered in Iowa schools. This bill was passed by a House subcommittee, but did not advance.



United Way of Central Iowa works to secure the basic needs of all Iowans to impact our community goals.

  •  Support a sales tax exemption for food banks and pantries serving low-income Iowans.

    PROGRESS MADE: United Way, the OpportUNITY Food Insecurity work group, and other hunger organizations advocated to exempt Iowa’s food banks and pantries from state sales tax requirements. While bills were introduced in both the Senate and House, this policy did not advance this session.
  •  Drug testing and work requirements for public assistance recipients.

    PROGRESS MADE: United Way of Central Iowa, United Ways of Iowa, and coalition partners advocated against drug testing and work requirements as a condition to receive public assistance (SF 2370, HF 2428). Bills introduced during the first funnel week did not advance to the floor of either chamber for consideration this session. Nearly 55 percent of SNAP recipients are working with an additional 42 percent of SNAP households including a disabled or elderly member. Studies show that work requirements do not help those experiencing poverty secure self-sufficient employment, and instead, create barriers to their success. Drug testing as a condition to enroll has been tried in several states and proved to be unconstitutional and costly. These measures did not advance this session.
Download the 2018 Legislative Scorecard

"Our work with Iowa legislators, business leaders and community impact experts is an important part of United Way's work, and has led to significant progress state-wide."

Dave Stone.png

Dave Stone
Advocacy Officer   (515) 246-6538