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Surf Camp Helps Special Needs Kids Build Confidence

As an elementary school teacher and a life-long surfer, I always felt that surfing could help build self-esteem in kids, especially for those with physical and emotional struggles.  While teaching, I realized one day that I was using surfing metaphors and analogies to teach kids life lessons. That’s when the idea of creating a surf school for special needs kids took seed.

Back to School: The United Way American Express Gift Card

Summer may still be in full swing, but families are already getting ready to “fall” back into the upcoming school year. The United Way Gift Card from American Express makes a perfect gift to help your student get school ready for the 2017-18 school year. American Express will donate to United Way an amount equal to the $3.95 fee for each United Way Gift Card purchased or distributed between 10/1/16 and 9/30/17 up to $250,000. Help your student get school ready while advancing the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all.

Connecting Employees to Community Service Opportunities is a Win All Around

Did you know that millennials will be 50 percent of the workforce by 2020?  Or that 88 percent of millennials feel their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social or environmental issues? 

These facts helped set the scene during United Way’s recent annual forum with corporate and foundation leaders to discuss how together we can support employees who want to feel ‘engaged’ at work and in the community. 

Early Learning Program Helps Millions of Kids Prepare for School

As the bell rang for fourth period, “Sarah” entered her high school auditorium – but she wasn’t there for class. Sarah had just given birth one week prior, and was on maternity leave to care for her newborn. Instead of staying home, Sarah packed her diaper bag and strapped her baby into the car seat and ventured back to school to participate in United Way of the Quad Cities Area’s Born Learning Academy.

The Story from San Antonio: Our Latest Human Trafficking Tragedy

It’s cruel irony that this week’s deadly human trafficking story comes shortly before the World Day Against Trafficking.

The news of immigrants dying of heat exhaustion and extreme dehydration while trapped in the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas reminded me of some of the worst stories I heard while serving on President Obama’s Advisory Council for Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives.

Volunteer Tutors Help Struggling Kids Boost Reading Scores

As back-to-school fervor takes over in August, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of new backpacks, fresh books and supplies, and our dreams for the kids going through the school’s front door.

In all that commotion, sobering facts can be overlooked.

In central Iowa, 23 percent of students are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade—making them four times more likely to drop out of school before earning their high school diploma.



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