Education, income and health are the building blocks for a good life.
Education is essential to getting and keeping a job with a livable wage and health benefits. An income adequate to pay for today’s necessities and save for the future provides families some sense of financial stability. Access to quality health care keeps children on track in school and adults productive at work. Remove any one of these building blocks and the other two topple.
Working with many partners, United Way continually looks for the most effective ways to help people gain access to educational, economic and health-related opportunities. To achieve further progress, it is now necessary to measure where we stand in these areas and look ahead to where we need to be as a country. For this reason, United Way launched an effort in 2005 to identify and track troubling social issues that are common across communities. The 12 indicators presented here show how America has fared in improving education, income and health status. They are based on the most reliable and relevant data available.
Taken together, these indicators show isolated signs of progress, but, overall, underscore the enormity of the task ahead. The three 10-year goals pull together the individual indicators, so that the sum is indeed
greater than the parts:
Cutting the number of students who drop out by half requires improved readiness for kindergarten and closer attention to students as they move through the system.
Cutting the number of financially unstable working families by half requires strategies to help people increase income, save, and grow long term assets.
Increasing by one-third the percentage of healthy youth and adults requires that more Americans have access to health coverage and to good primary care from (and even before) birth, as well as the resources to avoid or stop substance abuse and other risky behaviors.
The need to act is great. But America’s energy and creativity in finding long-lasting solutions are great as well. A few examples of how communities are advancing the common good are presented here. Their strategies have reduced the dropout rate, increased income and promoted health in cities and counties of all sizes. Now it’s time to take these strategies to scale.
Improve education, and cut the number of high school dropouts — 1.2 million students, every year — in half.
Help people achieve financial stability, and get 1.9 million working families — half the number of lower-income families who are financially unstable — on the road to economic independence.
Promote healthy lives, and increase by one-third the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors.
Our goals are ambitious, but with your help, and by utilizing our core strengths — a national network, committed partners and public engagement capacity — we can achieve them.
Goals for the Common Good Report
You can learn more about United Way's 10-year goals in Education, Income and Health from our report "Goals for the Common Good, the United Way Challenge to America".