Amanda Burt: Back to school means back to learning, but not just for kids

Amanda Burt

At United Way of Northwest Georgia, our goal is to improve the lives of families and individuals by supporting education, basic needs and health.

As we send our children back to school, parents are making difficult choices that balance safety with the need to continue to educate our children in uncertain times. Even with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 crisis, at United Way, we will be continuing what we have always done — getting kids ready for kindergarten, reading at grade level by third grade and graduating on time with skills to be career and life-ready. We might find unique ways to accomplish this alongside our community partners as we head back to school, but we will continue to be here serving our community.

We continue to learn more about how these critical issues are being addressed on a local level. Recently, the United Way of Northwest Georgia staff visited the Junior Achievement Discovery Center of Greater Dalton to experience the Finance Park simulation that our middle school students are undergoing. We are excited to become more informed volunteers to use this knowledge to better serve the students who will visit the center.

We understand how critical our next generation will be in helping build better futures. That’s why we have been investing much needed energy into re-launching our Youth United program this fall. We recently connected with some high school students to discover how we can best use their skills and abilities to give back to the community in ways they are most passionate about. Our goal is to make United Way the place that will provide unique leadership and volunteer opportunities for teens across Whitfield and Murray counties. Our Youth United initiative kicks off in September at the Junior Achievement Discovery Center of Greater Dalton.

With continuing adjustments within the schools, organizations will play a key role in helping the educators and students have a successful school year. Many of our corporate partners are beginning their United Way workplace campaigns for this season, and the dollars raised will be helping address key community issues such as the education of our children. The impact of our donors, volunteers and advocates is unmatched. Because of annual contributions, we were able to impact over 46,000 lives last year. But we can’t stop there.

As an organization you may be asking yourself “How can I help?” There are many ways for your employees to understand how their dollars are invested in our local community. One way is through corporate volunteerism. In May and June, Shaw Industries Inc. held their summertime volunteering event, “Unity in Community,” in partnership with United Way community partner Habitat for Humanity. These strategic partnerships allowed Shaw employees to witness firsthand how United Way is at work on a local level. Another way you can help your employees understand how their financial resources are being used efficiently and effectively is through Impact Tours. Employees see the inner workings of our community partners and learn about the services they offer. There are great benefits in introducing United Way to your employees through hands-on experiences.

As kids go back to school this fall, we encourage you to learn alongside them. Some of us might be past our academic careers, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of learning new ways to tackle key issues within our community. To learn more about United Way and what we do, visit www.ourunitedway.org.

Amanda Burt is president of the United Way of Northwest Georgia.

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