At the LIVE UNITED celebration on May 1, United Way of Central Iowa released its 2017 Community Impact Report and honored Matt McDermott, Connie Boesen, Athene USA, and several organizations for improving the lives of central Iowans.

“Our collective efforts are creating meaningful progress in the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans,” said Mary Sellers, President of United Way of Central Iowa. “I am proud of what this community has accomplished together and the difference these efforts make for thousands of central Iowans.”

The Community Impact Report provides a progress update on the community Goals for 2020 in Education, Income, and Health, and highlights how United Way is leading efforts to reach those goals. The complete report can be found at

Among the highlights noted at LIVE UNITED:

  • Education: Read to Succeed, United Way’s first-ever, community-wide call to action, engaged 739 volunteers as reading mentors and saw significant improvements in student participants’ reading skills. A deeper review of data also revealed that graduate rates improved last school year for low-income and minority student populations.
  • Income: Bridges to Success has enrolled more than 1,100 adults working to achieve their high school equivalency diplomas, a key step to achieving financial stability. United Way’s advocacy efforts during the legislative session led to a new law that expands pathways for achieving an equivalency diploma.
  • Health: Central Iowa outpaced the level of improvement nationally in its Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score, which provides communities a comprehensive measure of their health. United Way helped launch Invest Health, which is working with the 50314 neighborhood to address barriers such as safety, walkability, transportation, and other factors that impact health.

United Way also announced Essential Needs as an investment priority, continuing to address issues including food insecurity and homelessness to build the foundation that families need to improve in the Education, Income, and Health priority areas.

“While we are seeing real change in many areas of our work, our community continues to face significant challenges,” said Elisabeth Buck, Chief Community Impact Officer at United Way of Central Iowa. “United Way is seeking out those tough challenges that don’t have easy solutions and bringing together many partners needed to create change. Our Goals for 2020 remain destinations our community will reach together.”

“United Way of Central Iowa is essential to this community because it surrounds our toughest problems and unites the caring power of donors, volunteers, and advocates to address them,” said Georgia Van Gundy, United Way of Central Iowa Executive Committee member. “The businesses and individuals recognized today have made a significant commitment to joining United Way in improving the well-being of all central Iowans.”

The following organizations and individuals were honored for their give, advocate, and volunteer achievements:  

  • Spirit of Central Iowa Award – Athene USA – Honored for a strong campaign that increased in total giving by 20 percent, and for its company-wide dedication to building reading skills with students by donating books and serving as reading mentors.
  • Individual Advocate Award – Connie Boesen – Honored for her remarkable advocacy efforts in education as a Des Moines School Board member and community leader involved with United Way’s education initiatives.
  • Individual Volunteer Award – Matt McDermott – Honored for his volunteer leadership on the issue of homelessness and the significant time he gives to central Iowans in need of support.

Other organizations recognized include:

  • Give Awards: Delta Dental of Iowa, SHAZAM, Dotdash Meredith
  • Advocate Awards: Polk County Health Services, HCI Care Services and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Nationwide
  • Volunteer Awards: Delta Dental of Iowa, ITA Group, Wells Fargo

United Way of Central Iowa also announced the launch of its social media ambassadors program, encouraging community members to share how they #LiveUnitedDSM with compassion and in support of central Iowans.

About United Way

United Way of Central Iowa fights for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. For over 100 years United Way of Central Iowa has brought together nonprofits, businesses, government, community leaders, volunteers, and more to identify and tackle central Iowa’s toughest challenges. Focusing on issues such as early grade reading, poverty, mental and social health, high school graduation, and career training, United Way of Central Iowa inspires central Iowans to give, advocate, and volunteer to improve lives and empower all in our community. For more information about United Way of Central Iowa, visit

Media Contact:
Sarah Welch
515-246-6520 (o)
515-314-7966 (c)

About The Author: Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch is a communications contractor for the Thriving Workforce initiative and is the former Strategic Communications Officer at United Way of Central Iowa.