Fostering an Equitable, Engaged, Empowered Community

United Way of Central Iowa's strategic focus outlines the way our organization establishes strategies, sets goals, and measures progress in the community. UNITED to THRIVE guides every strategic decision as United Way of Central Iowa aims to unite central Iowans to foster a thriving community – one that is equitable, engaged, and empowered.



The 5 Elements of a Thriving Community are interconnected areas of focus United Way of Central Iowa uses to create strategies and set goals to improve the lives of every person in our community.


Essential NeedsEssential Needs

Central Iowans live in stable, healthy places with essential supports they need to thrive.

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Early-Childhood-SuccessEarly Childhood Success

Central Iowa children start out healthy and ready to learn.

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Education SuccessEducation Success

Central Iowa youth are academically successful and have a plan for their future.

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Central Iowans have sufficient income and opportunities to build wealth.

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HealthHealth & Well-Being

Central Iowans have physical and mental well-being.

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UNITED to THRIVE Puzzle - Equity Piece-1


No community can thrive unless every person in that community has the opportunity to thrive.

Equity means every person has access to resources and opportunities based on their specific needs and aspirations, which empowers them to thrive long term.

In central Iowa, there are many challenges that people face, and in many cases those challenges are more pronounced based on factors like race, ethnicity, ability, birthplace, and more... factors that should not negatively impact a person’s ability to thrive.

Addressing inequities and disparities has always been an important focus of our work. United to Thrive emphasizes equity as a very intentional priority and will use an equity lens as a key component to inform our strategic and resource investment decisions. Equity considerations will be a fundamental part of our strategy development and evaluation across the 5 Elements of a Thriving Community, as well as other aspects of our work.

Specifically, United Way of Central Iowa will integrate Equity into our organization and our work in the following ways:

  • We will seek every opportunity to be a prominent, consistent, and resolute voice in central Iowa on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • We will use our influence and privilege as a platform for voices that have historically been marginalized, so that they can be heard.

  • Equity principles will be incorporated into our investment and grant making processes.

  • We are committed to diversifying our staff, board, various cabinets and other volunteer leadership positions.

  • We will improve engagement from diverse donors, advocates, and volunteers.

  • We will find opportunities to diversify our vendor and community partnerships.

  • We will develop and promote volunteer opportunities focused on supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

  • We will collect, analyze, and share data and stories about disparities and inequities to inform and implement equitable solutions.

  • We will advocate for policies at the local, state, and federal level that address root causes of disparity and inequity.




For each of the five elements of a thriving community, we have identified a dashboard of metrics and measures from our community. These will be used to set goals, measure impact, and track our progress over time. 

As we focus on results, the goals set will be well-defined and measurable so our community can clearly see the real and apparent impact of the work you generously support. In the past, for each area of work (education, income, and health) one metric was used to measure progress and represent impact.

Moving forward, we will track and report multiple metrics as key indicators for each element. Volunteer advisors and subject matter experts have helped identify these key indicators and are now using them to guide the United Way of Central Iowa team to develop specific goals and strategies for each element.

Key Indicators for Essential Needs

  • Food Insecurity/Access to Healthy Food
  • Affordable Housing
  • Homelessness
  • Safe and Healthy Community

Key Indicators for Early Childhood Success

  • Infant Mortality
  • Developmental Screenings
  • Quality Childcare
  • Kindergarten Readiness

Key Indicators for Education Success

  • Chronic Absence
  • 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency
  • 8th Grade Reading Proficiency
  • High School Graduation
  • College & Career Readiness

Key Indicators for Economic Opportunity
  • Self-Sufficiency
  • Asset Building
  • Education, Training, and Skill Level

Key Indicators for Health & Well-Being

  • Medical Home
  • Health Status
  • Mental Health
  • Resiliency