May 15, 2024

Over 30,000 Books to Be Donated to Central Iowa Kids from Stuff the Bus Book Drive

Employees from 35 central Iowa organizations, along with many individual contributors from the community, donated more than 30,000 children’s books to United Way of Central Iowa’s Stuff the Bus book drive. The results were announced at the annual community-wide book collection at Athene in West Des Moines on Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

Every book donated will be distributed to more than 100 childcare or child-serving programs in Dallas, Polk and Warren Counties.

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Apr 30, 2024

United Way of Central Iowa: Honoring Champions & Addressing Community Challenges

At this year's LIVE UNITED celebration luncheon, United Way of Central Iowa unveiled its 2024 Community Report and recognized five organizations and three individuals with its annual LIVE UNITED Awards. Athene was awarded the 2024 Spirit of Central Iowa Award for the fourth consecutive year and sixth time overall. 

During the event, the organization’s president, Mary Sellers, called attention to the critical issues our community is currently experiencing, and reminded attendees of how, in partnership with many in the community, United Way is navigating these issues.

"We focus on the Five Elements of a Thriving Community with equity at the core, recognizing the interconnectedness of each piece, much like a puzzle,” said Sellers. “Addressing critical community issues requires a holistic approach as they impact every aspect of peoples’ lives. By providing access to quality, affordable childcare, we give working parents the opportunity to remain in the workforce, leading to better access to healthcare, housing, and improved educational outcomes for their children. Together, in a UNITED WAY, we achieve real, lasting impact across central Iowa."

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Feb 6, 2024

Central Iowa Food Security Plan Unveiled

Today, United Way of Central Iowa and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines convened donors, volunteers, advocates, nonprofit organizations, community leaders, elected officials and people with lived experience to learn more about food insecurity issues that are directly impacting our community and the collaborative approach our community is taking to address them.

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Dec 15, 2023

United Way of Central Iowa Releases 2024 Advocacy Agenda

United Way of Central Iowa released its 2024 Advocacy Agenda at their Advocacy Update Breakfast held on Thursday, December 14 for policy makers, government officials, and members of the community.

The Advocacy Update featured presentations on key, statewide issues impacting United Way’s 5 Elements of a Thriving Community – specifically childcare workforce; safe, healthy, and affordable housing; and food security. 

Childcare Workforce
United Way of Central Iowa Advocacy Officer Dave Stone facilitated a panel discussion focusing on the challenges impacting central Iowa’s childcare workforce. United Way advocates for efforts to build innovative programs and investments to address childcare workforce shortages and support quality, affordable childcare for all.

“Instability in the childcare workforce remains a key barrier to ensuring that we have availability of quality, affordable childcare,” said Stone. “We are working to amplify solutions such as providing state income tax exemptions for childcare providers, extending pilot programs to allow providers access to the state’s Child Care Assistance (CCA) program, and examining property tax valuations for childcare centers to reduce overhead.”

Safe, Healthy, and Affordable Housing
United Way of Central Iowa, through its OpportUNITY Housing Workgroup, supports efforts to address housing barriers and reduce cost-related burdens for families seeking homeownership.

“We are meeting with city council members in our region to promote methods that allow housing in their community to be more attainable for those who live there,” said Joe Murphy, Iowa Business Council and Chair of United Way’s Public Policy Cabinet. “As was shared in United Way’s Community Report, nearly 8,000 central Iowa households are behind in rent. This incredible cost is impacting people we know and encounter every day: grocery store clerks, ambulance drivers, direct healthcare workers, childcare providers, and the families they’re working to support.”     

Food Security
United Way of Central Iowa advocates for and supports direct appropriations for the overall food security system and the Double Up Food Bucks program from the Healthiest State Initiative, which allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants better access to healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables.

“Healthy, nutritious foods are expensive for a family supported by SNAP,” said Stone. “The Double Up Food Bucks program helps match participants’ purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables with privately funded support, allowing SNAP participants to ‘double up’ their purchases of nutritious options. We consider this solution a win for all involved – families are allowed to stretch food dollars on healthy food items, our economy will benefit from Double Up Food Bucks only being spent in Iowa-owned grocery stores and markets, and Iowa produce farmers will receive direct benefits from an increase in demand and new customers.”

United Way of Central Iowa’s 2024 Advocacy Agenda
United Way of Central Iowa’s Advocacy Agenda is informed by community partners working collectively to address critical community issues and is ultimately set by the organization’s Public Policy Cabinet – comprised of business and community leaders who volunteer to identify and advocate for policy solutions to the priority issues listed in the agenda. 

“At United Way, we know one of the most significant ways we can improve lives in our community is by advocating for change and policies that positively impact every central Iowan’s opportunity to thrive,” said Mary Sellers, President of United Way of Central Iowa. “From getting involved at the local level, to working directly with state and federal policymakers to make an impact, we are proud to support, and often take the lead on systems-level change that has made attaining success and thriving in our community a possibility for so many.”

Visit to find the full 2024 Advocacy Agenda, learn more about the organization’s advocacy efforts, and sign up to receive its Advocacy Newsletter sent during the legislative session.

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Oct 26, 2023

Give the Gift of Learning this Holiday Season

United Way of Central Iowa’s holiday wish: To share more about the tale of two holidays for the kids who live here. One where the season is full of joy and excitement – with fun traditions of playing games, eating warm healthy meals, unwrapping special gifts, and being surrounded by a loving family who read books with them. The other where sitting by a warm fire in a safe home with parents who are able to buy toys and books is only a dream.

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Oct 12, 2023

Jim Brannen & Maria Volante Honored with 2023 Tocqueville Society Award

United Way of Central Iowa announced on Wednesday, October 4 that Jim Brannen and Maria Volante were selected as this year’s co-recipients of the prestigious Tocqueville Society Award.

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Oct 3, 2023


On September 12, over 500 dedicated volunteers offered their time and talents to contribute to 20 different organizations, successfully completing nearly 60 impactful projects throughout the community.

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Jul 18, 2023

ELI Donors Impact Lives of Local Students

The members of Education Leadership Initiative (ELI), a United Way of Central Iowa donor affinity group focused on Education Success efforts, understand the immense value of central Iowa students having smooth transition from middle to high school so they can stay on a path to graduation and gain essential buildings block for a better life. 

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Jul 14, 2023

The Lasting Impact of Mentorship

The members of Education Leadership Initiative (ELI), a United Way of Central Iowa donor affinity group focused on Education Success efforts, understand the immense value of mentorship in the lives of young individuals. 

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May 25, 2023


Over 30,000 books to be donated to central Iowa children and students from United Way of Central Iowa's annual Stuff the Bus book drive.

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