Page 5 - Giving Back Guide - 2022
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    – our children and their families,” she says. “More of our neighbors and friends have reached out in the last few years
for assistance, and the cost of food and gasoline continues to rise, creating stress on families.”
UWSM is able to provide needed assistance and advance these goals with the help of their Community Impact Partners, businesses and individuals who graciously donate, participate and invest in their work, as well as a strong framework of vital programs that they facilitate.
Research and statistics continually show that investing in early education programs, and ensuring that students are reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade helps shape children’s futures for the better. That’s why during the last grant cycle, UWSM invested more than $329,000 into programs that focus on Kindergarten readiness and grade-level reading in the last two years.
UWSM is committed to laying
strong foundations at an early age
with 9 PreK4Ward classrooms in nine schools across Harrison County and Gulfport. They are a proud sponsor
of Moore Community House’s Early Pre-K Program, Hancock Human Resource Agency’s Early Pre-K
program and Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence’s Therapeutic Day School. The Therapeutic Day School program
is for children who are impacted by interpersonal violence. The program provides much needed relief for parents who are unable to afford childcare while also addressing the emotional, social, and educational needs of children impacted by violence.
classrooms, UWSM is proud to sponsor Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River, and Stone Counties. Enrollment in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends one free book monthly to 934 locally enrolled children from birth until they turn five, with over 155,255 books sent to local children in South Mississippi since 2009.
In 2019, 68 percent of Mississippi 4th-grade children were not reading proficiently at grade level (Annie E. Casey Fdn. 2022 Kids Count Data Profile). Once students reach grade school, the UWSM’s focus shifts to helping students reach the needed milestones to advance. They are invested in tutoring programs like Manna Ministries’ “Head & Heart” and The Nourishing Place’s “ENHANCE Tutoring Program.” These programs focus on children who need extra help
to stay on grade level as well as advance to the next. The “ENHANCE Tutoring Program” is in five Gulfport Schools and was established with UWSM Community Impact grant funds.
Since 2011, over 2000 children have taken part in this program pairing students with teachers and student
tutors to strengthen reading and comprehension skills. Success stories from students enrolled in the program show the dedication of the tutors, as well as
the students: “When called on, J would struggle to answer. He has gained so much confidence! He is now the first one with his hand up and ready to attempt a task,” says teacher Monique Guillot.
Outside of education initiatives, UWSM is also dedicated to advancing the lives
of adults in South Mississippi with their commitment to health and human services. United Way partners with health
programs like the SingleCare Prescription Savings Card which gives families access to more affordable medication. Using
the program, cardholders in Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River, and Stone Counties saved $628,915 in 2021.
Their partnership with St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy is another way they are helping South Mississippi residents. Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy Sam Burke explains, “In our area, diabetic care and insulin supplies often fall beyond patients’ means, and we are able to help provide prescriptions, needed health education as well as daily diabetic supplies for over 100 patients thanks to our partnership with UWSM.” Burke describes the partnership with UWSM as “facilitating multiple areas of needs; they help network and bring about change by bringing so many facets together to make impacts in the lives of our neighbors on a daily basis.”
In times of disaster, such as a hurricane or more recently, the global pandemic, UWSM is ready to assist the community. The global pandemic presented a new set of needs. Springer says, “We didn’t have a play book for a pandemic, so we got to work.” UWSM staff worked to secure over $438,000 locally and from around the world that was put directly
in the hands of local agencies for the rapid response to those affected for rental assistance, utility assistance, medicine, child care, mental health care, food, and more. “That is the beauty in being a United Way Worldwide member. Donors know they can trust UWSM to make the biggest impact with their gifts.”
When a hurricane strikes the Gulf Coast, UWSM joins with other local
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In addition to multiple Pre-K

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