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United Way sees progress on focused agenda

Originally published in Crain's Detroit Business
November 13, 2011
By Sherri Welch

United Way for Southeastern Michigan sees promising signs on three of the region's most pressing social issues as it enters a fourth year of working on them.

But it will be years before the work makes broad impact.

Among the signs:

• More than 1,100 individuals and families have increased their net income and credit scores.

• Five low-performing schools from the area saw a collective 25 percent decrease in absenteeism after one year, putting them on a path to better graduation rates.

• An additional 19 million meals went to the hungry over the past year alone.

While United Way can measure its efforts and those of its grantees in its three focus areas of basic needs, financial stability and educational preparedness, the impact of those efforts isn't yet clear.

It will take years to see broad impact, which is why United Way set 10-year goals when it began focusing on those issues in 2008, said President and CEO Michael Brennan.

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