United Way of Central Iowa leads the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. But how do we actually do that? It involves a lot more than just investing funds in community programs.

Many complex issues—such as school readiness or affordable housing—cannot be addressed by one organization or even one solution. That’s why United Way implements the collective impact model to transform our community. Here are the four steps we take to solve Central Iowa’s toughest challenges:



We unite key stakeholders, including:
  • Nonprofits
  • Corporations and local businesses
  • Government entities, including schools
  • Individuals - volunteers and those in need

We facilitate a conversation among these groups, and we listen. For example, in April, United Way hosted an OpportUNITY summit on increasing the availability of affordable housing that included a discussion among private real estate developers, investors, government agencies, and nonprofits—the first such cross-industry meeting in central Iowa history.

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We work collaboratively to identify priorities and measurable outcomes to work toward. For example, during a summit on adult education, the group set a goal of 10,000 central Iowans earning their high school equivalency diploma by 2020. This spawned the United Way-led initiative, Bridges to Success, which offers free classes and coaching to students.


Tackle_icon.pngCabinets of volunteer experts from the community make investment decisions to fund individual programs whose work will help the community reach the Goals for 2020 in Education, Income, and Health. They also set targeted performance measures for the funded programs to reach.

When needed, United Way creates a community-wide initiative and helps manage or support programming, volunteer opportunities, and awareness campaigns. In 2016, United Way launched READ to SUCCEED, with the goal that 90% of third-graders read proficiently by 2020.


evaluate_icon-1.pngOn a yearly basis, United Way staff and the investment cabinets evaluate the funded programs’ performance, as well as the progress of the community toward the Goals for 2020.

Based on this holistic data, staff and volunteers update their funding decisions and strategies or adjust goals and priorities as needed to respond to community needs.

When you invest directly in United Way, dollars align with the community’s collective effort to improve the health, education, and financial stability of central Iowans. These gifts are invested with the highest standard of accountability for the greatest results.

This is what makes United Way of Central Iowa the best choice for your investment. Together, we can make central Iowa an even better place to live, work, and play for all those who call it home.


Renee Miller

Written by Renee Miller

Renee Miller is a former Chief Community Impact Officer of United Way of Central Iowa.