The United Way and Community Foundation of Washington County are writing monthly columns in The Herald-Mail to keep the Strategic Community Impact Plan (SCIP) process in the forefront of the community’s conscience and to report on the progress that is being made toward the SCIP goals. Even though it might not seem like it, the community is engaged.
Many things are happening with regard to education goals:
• Under the direction of the United Way, a food program collaborative has been discussing issues, such as distribution of available resources, programs and eligibility, nutrition and gaps that need to be filled moving forward. The current focus is on summer feeding programs and how we can make them more cost-effective and provide the educational programs necessary to prevent summer learning loss. Programs will be put in place in June to address this goal.
• Another exciting development is the Literacy Summit that was organized by local Rotary clubs and was held May 3 at Hagerstown Community College. The Hagers-town Rotary Literacy Initiative will advocate for a communitywide collaboration to increase the number of students entering school ready to learn and to decrease the number of elementary students experiencing summer learning loss (SCIP goals 1 and 2). Dave Hanlin is to be commended for leading that effort. More information can be obtained at www.HagerstownRotaryLiteracyInitiative.org.
• A funder’s roundtable made up of Washington County private foundations was recently held to discuss grants in Washington County and whether there was an opportunity to collaborate on funding dedicated to increase school readiness. The group will meet again to discuss this opportunity.
Of course, Volunteer Washington County continues to fill a huge need that was defined early on by the SCIP Civic Engagement Focus Group, and we were happy to support their initiative.
The Hagerstown Area Religious Council has agreed to partner with SCIP to identify ways in which the faith community can help to endorse and implement the SCIP document. Many of the SCIP goals and strategies can only be enhanced by the support and involvement of the faith community.
The State of Maryland has mandated that each county health department come up with a local health improvement plan. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wants to move forward with a national accreditation process; local health departments will become accredited and tie into federal funding. Part of this process involves forming a health improvement coalition. Key documents include: the coalition's plan; a description of the coalition, e.g., the membership, focus of the coalition, etc.; and, to do later, an action plan with workable goals and action steps based on a needs assessment to be conducted jointly by the health department and Meritus Medical Center, along with an outside vendor.
As a result of SCIP, a lot of the goals and action steps are already in place, and the action plan that will be developed will mesh with the Health and Family Safety & Security/Health & Well-Being objectives of SCIP (eight of the 35 objectives identified by the State Health Improvement Plan were also targeted by the SCIP process).
As you can see by these examples, the SCIP initiative has fostered the engagement of other nonprofits, private funders, governmental agencies and the faith community in addressing the important needs that exist in Washington County.
Everyone has a role in creating positive change in Washington County, and we look forward to working with you to make it happen.
Brad Sell is executive director of the Community Foundation of Washington County and Leah Gayman is executive director of United Way of Washington County.