It’s a research project with major implications for what issues the United Way of Douglas County aims to tackle.
Now Douglas County residents have a chance to weigh in.
“People trust the United Way and look to the organization to ensure community needs are met,” said Tom Christie, the United Way’s board president. “We want to be sure community resources are targeting the critical priorities for citizens in Douglas County.”
Leaders are seeking community input as the United Way seeks to move from its focus of funding agencies to working to meet needs in the broad areas of education, health and self-sufficiency.
The first step in this year’s planning process is a five- to seven-minute, 12-question survey, available at unitedwaydgco.org, that asks Douglas County residents to rank their priorities on certain issues.
For example, the first question asks participants to rank their preferences of educational priorities among three choices: making sure children and teenagers are successful in school; that infants and toddlers are prepared for school at age 5; or that adults can compete for good jobs as a result of job training.
The survey will be distributed to targeted groups and the community at large. You can also visit United Way of Douglas County’s group on wellcommons.com. Printed copies of the survey are available from the United Way office by calling 843-6626.
“We’ve invested the community’s resources on a variety of issues, and we want to know what the community wants to accomplish, not in the sense of where the gaps are, but what we want to accomplish as a community,” said Erika Dvorske, the United Way’s CEO and president.
In addition to the survey, the United Way will conduct community focus groups later this year, and United Way leaders are compiling other demographic information as well. The board of directors will use the information to identify funding priorities.
“I’m not saying the agencies aren’t doing a good job of what they’re doing,” said Christie, a retired Lawrence school district administrator. “It’s just I think there might be a better way for agencies to work together to resolve community issues in collaboration with each other.”