United Ways from the Great Lakes Bay Region including Bay, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw County collaborated to #TeamUp at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on Thursday, July 18. Selected as one of the Daily Giveback organizations to receive a generous $10,000 donation, United Way representatives gave attendees the opportunity to vote on how the donation would be distributed throughout the region.

People in attendance helped create change by casting a total of 1,532 votes for one of three regional issues: Reading at Grade Level, Mentoring/Youth Success and Basic Needs. While the voting was close, Reading at Grade Level received the most votes so the $10,000 donation will be invested in regional literacy programs this fall.

“We were excited to see attendees rally around these key community issues and raise their voices to determine how these dollars should be invested. The results illustrate how United Way provides a path to investing in the issues people care about,” shared Holly Miller, Executive Director at United Way of Midland County. “On behalf of our regional United Way partners, we want to thank everyone involved with the Dow GLBI event for an amazing week and their commitment to giving back.”

Why is reading at grade level important? An average of 50% of regional 3rd graders are non-proficient readers, according to M-Step data. Children who aren’t reading at grade level are up to four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma.

Studies show that positive relationships with adults appear to be the most important source of hope for children at risk for poor educational outcomes. Local United Ways invest in youth programs that build essential Developmental Assets in children to help kids to grow into healthy, caring and responsible adults.

Throughout our region, an average of half of the population lives in poverty or is part of the ALICE Population. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income, Constrained, Employed and describes the many hardworking people in the region that live above the poverty line, but are one emergency from falling into poverty. They struggle to afford basic needs like housing, food, childcare, transportation and healthcare.

“We were excited to participate in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational,” stated Mary Beth Laisure, Executive Director/CEO at United Way of Bay County. “As United Ways work together regionally, we are able to showcase the important impact work that is being done in across the region.”

United Ways bring our communities together to improve lives. They don’t focus on a single issue because change is bigger than one organization or program. To learn more about Great Lakes Bay Region United Ways, visit eportal.unitedwaymidland.org/UWGLBR.