United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region


Month: February, 2013

Greater Collaboration Provides a Great Start

by United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region


Posted on behalf of Denise Hartsough, Director of Community Investment

Visit www.changethestory.org to learn more about the work we are doing in Education.

At United Way, we believe that positive, nurturing early childhood experiences are vital to creating a thriving community, so that our children are able to begin their journey strong and continue to succeed. We know that when we invest in children from the beginning, we can prevent a great deal of hardship later in their lives and make our community stronger. This is why United Way actively engages in the work of the Kalamazoo County Great Start Collaborative.  I am privileged to support the Great Start Collaborative’s efforts around early care and education, and parenting education and support.

The Kalamazoo County Great Start Collaborative aims to “assure a coordinated system of community resources and supports to help all Kalamazoo County families provide a great start for their children from birth to age five” (www.kalamazoogreatstartcollaborative.org). That system includes home visiting for families of children ages 0-3, and high-quality pre-kindergarten for 4-year olds.  I am excited to announce that a new grant will strengthen the system by offering scholarships for high-quality care and education for 3-year olds.  Consumers Energy has awarded $20,000 to help families of 3-year-olds in our community. Children with a scholarship for  high-quality care and education at age 3 will then move to a high-quality preK program when they are 4 years old–Head Start, state-funded preschool, or a Kalamazoo County Ready 4s provider.  Two years in high-quality programs will give participating children a great start as they head into kindergarten!

The Great Start Collaborative is partnering with Child Care Resources for this scholarship program.  Child Care Resources serves as the fiduciary of the grant and will disburse the funds directly to the early care and education providers.  Eligible families who receive the scholarship will choose from providers rated at the four or five star level in the state-wide Great Start to Quality rating system.

I am happy to have been able to help strengthen the early childhood system in our community by writing this grant with staff from the Great Start Collaborative and Child Care Resources. This is yet another example of how well our community collaborates for positive change.

To learn more about United Way, and our work on Education, Income and Health in the region, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @LIVEUNITEDbckr.

DRIVE UNITED: How Local Auto Dealers Partnered to Advance the Common Good

by Kellie Cochrane

Posted on behalf of Rick Chambers, Rick Chambers & Associates 

Car Sponsorship

Sweepstakes winner, Terri Musolff, picking out her new car

The automobile sales industry is one of the most competitive on Earth. With production costs rising and personal income stagnant or declining, every sale matters. As a result, dealers work hard to distinguish their businesses from their peers.

Yet 11 Michigan auto dealers in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo put their rivalries in the back seat during the recent United Way campaign. Those dealerships, along with the Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union, pitched in a total of $30,000 to support a car sweepstakes as an incentive for people to contribute to the campaign.

“I was amazed by this partnership,” said Mike Larson, President and CEO of the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region (UWBCKR). “The dealers were enthusiastic supporters. They wanted to do everything they could to enhance the campaign and benefit the community.”

By co-sponsoring the sweepstakes – over and above their normal United Way contributions – the dealers offered a vehicle of choice up to $30,000 to the grand prize winner. Donors who gave to United Way for the first time or who increased their gift by at least $50 over the previous year were automatically entered in the drawing; others used our website to enter.

While incentive sweepstakes have been held before in conjunction with United Way campaigns, this was the first to cover the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek region collectively. Dealers displayed vehicles at 59 different locations, often in conjunction with campaigns at local businesses. Marketing and information materials highlighted the partnership and the dealerships involved. In all, more than 80,000 working adults were exposed to the effort.

The promotion made a difference: 10,987 donors qualified for the drawing, contributing a total exceeding $1.4 million. In December 2012, long-time United Way donor Terri Musolff, an employee at Kazoo Inc./Edwards Garment, won the vehicle of her choice.

Two of the sponsoring dealers said the collaboration was fun and beneficial to their communities.

Added Jeff DeNooyer, President of Metro Toyota in Kalamazoo and a UWBCKR board member, “It’s what United Way and its slogan, LIVE UNITED, is all about. I’m glad that all the participating dealers were able to demonstrate the power of partnership.”

Organizations that supported the sweepstakes were the following:

Maple Hill Auto Group

Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union

Cole Nissan Cadillac GMC Buick

Seelye Wright Automotive Group

Henkel Chrysler Jeep Dodge

Orrin B. Hayes Inc. Jeep/Mercedes-Benz/Mazda

Lakeview Ford

Zeigler Automotive Group

DeNooyer Chevrolet

Metro Toyota

Heritage Chevrolet

Sunshine Toyota