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Oct. 18, 2012 Volume 34, No. 9

Mizzou’s antipoverty fundraiser hopes to raise $800,000 by Nov. 16

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HELPING OUT Timothy Rich, executive director of the Heart of Missouri United Way, spoke Sept. 17 in Mizzou Arena at the launch of the MU United Way Campaign. Funds are being raised for United Way’s Community Impact, a strategy that is proactive, rather than reactive, in its approach to ending poverty in mid-Missouri. Kanani May/United Way photo


Many campus departments, schools and colleges are participating

Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day,” goes the old saying, author unknown. “Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

In a nutshell, that is the philosophy of Community Impact, an antipoverty approach to be implemented by the Heart of Missouri United Way (HMUW). 

On Aug. 31, the agency embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise $4 million to support Community Impact. Once again, the University of Missouri is a fundraising partner. MU’s United Way Campaign 2012 kicked off Sept. 17 to raise $800,000 by Nov. 16, though it will continue to accept donations through Dec. 31. As of Wednesday, the MU campaign had brought in $320,810.

Community Impact is not simply about feeding and clothing low-income mid-Missourians. The new model aims to break the poverty cycle by helping children of low-income households succeed. The model promotes education that leads to better jobs and a more healthful lifestyle, said Timothy Rich, executive director of HMUW. 

“Ultimately the goal is to help people walk out of poverty,” Rich said. 

Mitzi Clayton, MU associate athletic director and United Way community campaign chair, is excited by the proactive approach. “It’s a commitment to help children achieve their potential,” she said.

Lack of education and unhealthful lifestyles are prevalent among Boone County’s poor, who make up 12 percent of county households. Reaching the children in these households is paramount, United Way officials say.

“You got to start with the kids,” Rich said. “You got to make sure they got tools and skill sets and competencies to get them out of poverty.”

Among middle and high school-aged children, Boone County is two times higher than the comparable national rate for alcohol and marijuana use, according to the 2008 Missouri Student Survey, cited in HMUW’s “Community Assessment Report 2011–12.” County cigarette smoking in this age group is one and a half times higher than the national average. Teen obesity is among the highest in America.

In addition, one-third of adults in Boone County have only a high school diploma or less. “There is a skill gap between current labor force skills and the needs of the state labor market,” the assessment report says. 

Community Impact addresses these issues in its four focus areas:

• education — helping children succeed in school

• income — increasing financial stability and workforce readiness

• health — improving health awareness

• safety net — providing immediate emergency needs

Truman School report

Twelve years ago, United Way National adopted Community Impact, which uses data analysis and outcome goals, then measures each program’s success. The approach diverged from traditional American fundraising. For decades, organizations touted charity rather than solving root causes — giving away fish rather than teaching how to fish. 

Three years ago, HMUW started the groundwork to launch Community Impact in mid-Missouri. 

A committee of experts in each of Community Impact’s four focus areas was formed to discuss and debate best approaches to helping low-income households. Data were analyzed from numerous studies from local nonprofits, the city of Columbia, Boone County and the University of Missouri, among other sources.

Between spring 2010 and April 2012, MU’s Institute of Public Policy in the Truman School of Public Affairs collected data for the “Social Service Agency Evaluation” report, funded by United Way, the city and Boone County. The institute evaluated 36 local nonprofits affiliated with United Way. 

Researchers explored the agencies’ abilities in fiscal management, human resources, data collection, job performance appraisals and other areas. 

“The evaluation examined the capacity strengths, and areas for improvement, of the nonprofit agencies,” said Emily Johnson, senior policy analyst at the institute. The report stopped short of recommending which agencies should continue receiving United Way funding and which should be cut loose.

In the end, 49 agencies made 109 proposals directed at addressing one or more of the four impact areas. Soon, HMUW will announce which strategies to use. In the meantime, dollars are being raised to fund them. 

MU Campaign 2012

Campaign 2012 is drawing participation from the MU community. The Department of Athletics, for example, has donated four suite tickets to the Missouri vs. Syracuse football game Nov. 17. Winners can watch the game from Athletics Director Mike Alden’s suite. Raffles can be purchased until 5 p.m. Oct. 23 by visiting

A portion of the dollars from SEC T-shirt sales at Tiger Team Store and the University Bookstore will go to the MU campaign.  

Development & Alumni Relations is collecting food items at 123 Reynolds Alumni Center through Oct. 26 for the United Way partner Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

The MU community can make pledges at

Cathy Scroggs, MU associate director of academic services and a United Way board member, said Community Impact’s approach makes sense to faculty and staff.

“It is an outcome-based way of looking at things,” Scroggs said. “In higher education, we are always about outcomes.”