Changing Lives – Block by Block

By: Agnes Chiao
Senior Director of Neighborhood Initiatives and Innovation

What would it look like if we targeted a block or a few blocks in one neighborhood and did whatever it took to educate children and strengthen that community? The Harlem Children’s Zone is a comprehensive cradle to career initiative based in a targeted neighborhood within Harlem, New York.  Similar in philosophy to UWSL’s approach of focusing on changing conditions and solving problems for entire neighborhoods and communities, the Harlem Children’s Zone is an exciting example, a bright spot, of how to not just help a child beat the odds, but helping to change the odds – for every child.  This fall, United Way of Salt Lake has the honor to visit the Harlem Children’s Zone and learn from their success – successes like,  83% of third graders at or above grade level on the statewide math exam. Or, 90% of high school students who attend the after-school programs went on to college – that’s over 640 students enrolled in college.

United Way of Salt Lake is now focusing its work in 8 neighborhoods: South Salt Lake City, Glendale, Central City, Guadalupe, West Valley City, Kearns, Park City, and Clearfield. We also are working with two efforts that are focused on the immigrant and refugee population rather than a specific neighborhood. Partnerships in these neighborhoods are creating community plans that will move the needle on issues like 3rd grade reading levels, or savings for college and retirement – plans and programs that will impact generations to come. Through this targeted approach, neighborhoods such as South Salt Lake has already seen indicators of change, such as a 24% decrease in the crime rate in the last three years. And that’s only the beginning. By working together in a focused and intentional way, I believe that we will accomplish much more. Block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood – we can and will improve lives and build strong communities.

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