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Education

United Way Of Allegheny County Releases Five-Year Plan For Youth

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Sarah Schneider
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90.5 WESA News

The United Way of Allegheny County wants to ensure local children grow up to be successful in adulthood. That’s why they’ve created a new action plan.

The plan, called "United for Children," aims to support the social and emotional needs of the region’s children with a five-step plan, which includes:

  • Building a strong foundation focusing on academic performance, community and a healthy lifestyle.
  • Success in school by making sure children go every day.
  • Making sure children have a positive relationship with a role model.
  • Providing “quality” afterschool programs.
  • Helping students focus on the future and their career goals.

United Way hopes to reach tens of thousands of local children with the plan. To do so, the organization is asking for 2,500 volunteers and $8 million from the community and business owners. United Way of Allegheny County President and CEO Bob Nelkin said that’s about one-third to one-half more than the organization has spent in the past.

The organization touted the success of one local woman whose involvement with United Way helped her get through high school.

Jhenae Youngblood, a graduate of Brashear High School, became a mother her junior year. That year her son was in and out of the hospital and she ultimately missed a lot of school. She was deemed chronically absent.

Youngblood was then paired with a mentor from United Way’s “Be There” attendance initiative. And during her senior year she became a “Be There” ambassador, encouraging her peers to not miss school either.

“We were out making sure we were all getting to school,” she said. “We were learning about each other and just knowing that somebody was there that cared about us and cared about each other, it helped us get to school and get through our problems.”

She also worked with the Neighborhood Learning Alliance's Reading Warriors program and read to elementary students. She graduated from high school with honors and is now attending the Community College of Allegheny County. She said she wants to study early childhood education.