Over 100,000 kids live in poverty, right here, in our region. It's an issue we're focused on solving every day of the year. We can't afford to ignore it. That’s why we set an audacious goal - cut poverty in our four counties in half by 2025. We can do this! But we need to work together. 

Here are five ways we can join forces to break the cycle within our own communities.

1. Prepare Every Child for Kindergarten.

The evidence is resounding - early exposure to books is critical to a child’s long-term educational success. That's why United Way is proud to co-lead two regional hubs focused on early learning: Early Learning Multnomah (ELM) and Early Learning Washington County (ELWC). Both hubs are designed to improve long-term educational outcomes for children by ensuring that every kid - regardless of race, ethnicity, or class - is prepared for Kindergarten. Learn more about the work we're doing through our Early Learning Hubs.

2. Invest in a Strong Safety Net.

Kids can’t learn and families can’t thrive if they’re worried about where their next meal is coming from or how they’ll pay the rent. We make investments to provide housing, food, heat, utilities and other basic needs—working in partnership with social service organizations, cities and counties to improve alignment and collaboration and ensure families receive comprehensive and consistent services.

3. Leverage the Power of Volunteers.

Volunteering is a great way to make a difference and change the odds for kids and families living in poverty. Hands On Greater Portland, United Way's volunteer program, offers hundreds of volunteer opportunities to fit a range of interests. Our more than 11,000 volunteers provide critical labor, skills and resources to our community, allowing nonprofits to build their capacity, focus on their missions and have a bigger impact on the community. Sign up for a volunteer project.

4. Combine Forces.

No one organization can combat poverty on its own. We convened a formidable group of change makers – our Community Strengthening funded partners – into a whip-smart cohort focused on substantially improving the outcomes for low-income families in our region. By aligning their efforts; sharing best practices; adopting data-driven, adaptive processes and increasing culturally-specific and responsive practices; we can ensure that every community in our region has access to the resources they need to thrive and contribute to social change. Learn more about our Community Strengthening Cohort.

5. Focus on Racial Equity.

Focusing on race and ethnicity is critical to ending the historical and social inequities that continue to exist in our region. We're committed to equity in every aspect of our work, from our interactions with the public to our engagement with donors and our allocation of resources across communities. Our current and future leaders and change-agents are tremendous assets within traditionally underserved communities. 

We are better together. We can only truly eliminate disparities when every person within our region has the opportunity to make a difference.

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