United Way of Allegheny County

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Josie Badger says people with disabilities have significant roles to play for next generation by being active participants in society and role models for other with disabilities. Josie, along with three other panelists, participated in a live forum hosted by 90.5 WESA and Essential Pittsburgh in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Forty-three percent of Pittsburgh public high school students were chronically absent during the 2013-14 academic year.

More than 250 education stakeholders are expected to attend today’s School Attendance Matters Conference hosted by the United Way of Allegheny County and several other sponsors to discuss ways to change the trend.

Free tax preparation services are now available for income-eligible taxpayers in eight southwestern Pennsylvania counties this tax season, thanks to the United Way of Allegheny County’s Money In Your Pocket Coalition.

Households earning up to $53,000 a year can get free, in-person assistance with 2014 tax returns from one of more than 300 IRS-certified volunteers. Taxpayers with $60,000 or less in annual income can take advantage of a free online tax preparation service.

More than 60 percent of Allegheny County’s impoverished residents live in suburban neighborhoods, according to a 2013 report by the Brookings Institution, and veterans make up about 33 percent of Pittsburgh’s homeless population.

Those are just two of the reasons why the United Way of Allegheny County announced Wednesday that the nonprofit will expand several programs over the next three years to improve the quality of life for struggling families, women and veterans in the region.

Courtesy of Assemble

There’s good news and there’s bad news when it comes to after-school programs in Allegheny County.

The good news is that more children than ever are participating in after-school and out-of-school-time programs: 10.2 million nationwide and 52,646 in Allegheny County, according to a new report from the Afterschool Alliance. That puts the national participation rate at 18 percent, while Allegheny County’s participation rate is much higher at 28 percent.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Ty’wann Martin, a 7th grader, gripped the microphone, popped up from his seat and sauntered up to the front of the room filled with CEOs and executives from the United Way and First Niagara Bank Thursday.

“Hi, my name is Ty’wann, and I go to Pittsburgh Schiller,” he declared. “And when I get older, I would like to be an NBA player.”

He and a group of students from Schiller and Pittsburgh Classical Academy Middle Schools are part of the United Way of Allegheny County mentoring program.

To keep Pittsburgh kids on track as yet another school year picks up speed, United Way’s middle school mentoring program has expanded to two more Pittsburgh Public Schools, Brookline and Colfax.

As part of the expansion the program is looking for more mentors to visit their mentees at 1 of the 14 participating schools at least once a week from October-May.

United Way of Allegheny County announced that it raised $33,987,061 from its 2013 campaign-- 2.3 percent increase from the previous year’s total.

Marking its fourth consecutive year of growth, the charity surpassed its internal goal of  $33,883,317.

Bob Nelkin, United Way President, said he believes the charity continues growing because donors are able to see the impact of their donations.

The ever greening landscape might make it seem like summer, but there are still 30 days until Pittsburgh Public Schools finishes its year, and the United Way of Allegheny County wants to make sure the students attend each one of them.

That’s why it is kicking off the “Finish the Year Strong: 30 Day Attendance Challenge” Friday.

Wilkinsburg High School students want an afterschool program -- but they can’t afford one.

About two years ago, the students created the Gym after Dark program but lost funding and had to cancel it after only a year.

That is why they joined a group of 58 children and adults in Harrisburg Tuesday as part of the United Way’s Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST) for the first Afterschool Advocacy Day.

The event aimed to raise awareness of the importance of academic afterschool programs for students of all ages in the commonwealth.

The United Way announced a more “holistic” way to assist PA 2-1-1 Southwest callers Tuesday.

PA 2-1-1 is a free human service helpline that connects Pennsylvanians with basic needs such as utilities, housing, employment and food.  It also helps connect people to agencies that can answer questions about the Affordable Care Act or help with free tax preparation.

Bob Nelkin, United Way of Allegheny County president, said people who call 2-1-1 need help navigating what he called a “confusing maze.”

A local organization is making tax season a little easier for residents.

United Way of Allegheny County (UWAC) is providing free tax preparation service to low-and-moderate income individuals, families, and seniors.

Individuals who make less than $20,000, and households with an income of less than $40,000 are eligible for the Money in Your Pocket Coalition (MYPC). They also have a self-assistance tool to help families that make a little more.

The United Way’s 21 and Able campaign kicked off in early 2012 with the goal of streamlining the service system for people with disabilities and their families.

A person living with disabilities is eligible for a wide range of supportive services until they turn 21. When they enter adulthood, available services can be hard to secure, and unemployment for people with disabilities remains an issue, despite laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The United Way of Allegheny County is looking for more than 200 volunteers for this year’s Free Tax Preparation Campaign.

Last year, 149 volunteers helped prepare more than 5,800 tax returns for low-income families and individuals, getting $10 million in refunds.

Angela Reynolds, director of programs for financially struggling adults and families for the United, said no prior tax experience is necessary to volunteer.

United Way Report: Elderly Needs on the Rise

Oct 23, 2013

Fewer funds and resources for elderly and disabled people along with a growing aging population are creating problems of “epic proportion,” according to a new report from the United Way of Allegheny County.

United Way President Bob Nelkin said that with new medical advancements people are now outliving their spouses and caregivers more than before, and their needs are increasing. 

Ninety percent of success in school is showing up — that’s what the United Way and its partners believe.

The United Way launched its “Be There” campaign Monday aimed at making attendance a priority at schools across Allegheny County.

“The concept is very simple, it’s how do you get the people outside of the schools, the community agencies, the faith-based organizations, the youth workers who have a great relationship with young people, to encourage 100 percent attendance,” said Bob Nelkin, United Way of Allegheny County President.

The largest mentoring program in Pittsburgh area is getting a little bit bigger.

The “Be a 6th Grade Mentor” program has become “Be a Middle School Mentor.”

Due to the program’s success in the last four years, the United Way of Allegheny County is expanding it to include children in grades six through eight.

Damon Bethea, mentoring projects director at the United Way, said the mentors asked for the program's expansion.

Two organizations want uninsured and underinsured households to stop skipping prescriptions due to cost.

For a third year, the United Way of Allegheny County and FamilyWize Community Service Partnership are providing free prescription discount cards to help struggling families and individuals.

Cardholders can save 44 to 75 percent off their prescriptions at all chain pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide.

Angela Reynolds, United Way Director of Programs for Financially Struggling Adults and Families, said people going without prescriptions is a large issue.

United Way of Allegheny County announced its funding allocations for children and youth programs this week, giving $2.4 million to more than 15 programs.

United Way focused its attention on after school programs, summer programs, future leaders programs, college preparation programs and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

Alicia Chatkin, United Way’s director of programs for children and youth, said the funding is meant to help children in two age groups.

Chris Cieslak, a lieutenant colonel with the Army Reserves, returned from Kabul, Afghanistan in 2012 after a year’s duty there.

Cieslak went through what she described as a "minor depression," and only now does she feel she’s made the transition from military to civilian life. She considers herself lucky — she had a good support system in place. Not all women veterans can say the same.

The United Way of Allegheny County filled a ballroom in a downtown hotel Wednesday with supporters and then announced it exceeded its 2012 fundraising goal. The total from the campaign hit $33,211,190, which is 2.7 percent more than last year’s total.

“Our record over the last five years prior to this year is that our community, the Pittsburgh community, has out raised the rest of the nation,” said local United Way President Bob Nelkin. “During that period of time we went up 12.7 percent. The rest of the big United Ways in the nation were down 4.4 percent.”