Summer break means water parks, family vacations and outdoor fun, but for thousands of children in Palm Beach County no school also means no food.
When kids are on summer break they’re not receiving the free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch meals that they rely on during the school year through federal nutrition programs. In Palm Beach County, 113,306 children ages 5 to 17, or about 68% of school district students, are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
“Summer slide” is the tendency for disadvantaged students to fall behind during the summer months. Summer learning loss affects all students, but disproportionately impacts low-income students who often lose many of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year, while higher-income children build their skills.
Children in low-income households fall behind an average of two to three months in reading during the summer, according to national research. Summer learning loss during elementary school accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income students and their middle-income peers by 9th grade. These differences can ultimately decide whether a student will graduate high school and continue to college.
In Palm Beach County, the Town of Palm Beach United Way is helping combat this “summer slide” by investing in high quality out-of-school programs at nonprofit partner agencies. There are endless types of programs that can be offered to engage children and youth, from traditional summer camps to year-round cultural arts programs.
At the core of our United Way is the volunteer-driven grant review process.
Each year, the Town of Palm Beach United Way recruits a diverse group of dedicated community representatives with a broad range of expertise and skill to serve as the eyes and ears of more than 3,500 donors. Members of this Allocation Committee participate in a three-month grant review process to ensure that donors’ dollars are distributed wisely, fairly and objectively. Volunteer training includes an overview of key issues in the community, instruction on how to read an IRS 990, information on best practices in the non-profit sector and an outline of the United Way’s quality standards.
Although Palm Beach County faces many tough issues, the Town of Palm Beach United Way focuses on funding agencies that concentrate on three key areas: education, health and financial stability — what we consider to be the building blocks for a good quality of life.
After studying and identifying the most crucial needs in Palm Beach County, we further separate these three pillars into 14 priority areas: Read more
For many women trying to escape abusive relationships, six weeks in an emergency shelter is not enough. Victims might not have enough money saved to support themselves, they might not have a safe home to go to, they might need additional medical care, or they might need legal and immigration support.
Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse provides the only domestic violence shelter in Palm Beach County that offers victims and their children free shelter and supportive services for extended periods of time. The Extended Shelter program provides survivors the time and resources necessary to mitigate the circumstances that keep them trapped in abusive relationships.
Although 1 in 4 adults live with a diagnosable mental health disorder, Florida ranks 49th in the nation in funding for mental health services. A mental health concern that isn’t addressed often becomes a mental illness leading to the need for more extensive services and the risk of greater consequences, including suicide.
This year the Town of Palm Beach United Way invested $211,500 into mental health programs in Palm Beach County. We support 12 programs at 6 non-profit partner agencies in our community that serve a total of 15,229 individuals struggling with mental health concerns.
Our Volunteer Spotlight recognizes Town of Palm Beach United Way volunteers who are passionate, inspiring and dedicated. They are individuals committed to transforming lives and who invest in our vision of building healthy and strong communities.
Louise Snyder has volunteered on our Allocation Committee for many years, helping ensure annual donations are carefully and thoughtfully put to good use funding programs in Palm Beach County that improve education, health and financial stability for our less fortunate neighbors. The Allocation Committee consists of about 100 community volunteers who spend more than 2,000 hours reviewing grant applications, attending site visits and meeting with team members to make important funding decisions. The volunteer-driven allocation process ensures fiscal responsibility and management accountability for all agencies receiving Town of Palm Beach United Way funds.
This year Louise is co-chairman of the committee. She is also on our Board of Trustees and a member of the Alexis de Tocqueville Cabinet.
Below, Louise answers a few questions about volunteering at the Town of Palm Beach United Way and what it means to her.
Children who don’t get enough to eat begin their young lives at a serious disadvantage. When kids are hungry they face higher risks of developmental impairments and health conditions, struggle in school and are more likely to have social and behavioral problems.
In Palm Beach County, one in five children go to bed hungry. Of the 193,000 students in The School District of Palm Beach County — the 10th largest in the nation — 68% are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
For many kids, the breakfast and lunch they receive at school may be the only meals they get each day. Karen Erren, executive director of the Palm Beach County Food Bank, says that creates a challenge for days of the week when children aren’t in school.
Although local farm workers harvest millions of dollars worth of sugarcane, sweet corn and other vegetables every year, few make enough money to put the food they pick on their own tables.
Palm Beach County is home to approximately 10,000 seasonal and migrant workers who work long hours under the blazing South Florida sun for an income of under $10,000 per year.
These workers harvest the 452,242 acres of agricultural land in our county, one of the largest agricultural counties in the Nation. Their back-breaking work is vital to the Palm Beach County economy, which had an estimated $1.42 billion in agricultural sales last year, leading the nation in the production of sugarcane, fresh sweet corn and sweet bell peppers, and leading the State of Florida in the production of rice, lettuce, radishes, Chinese vegetables, specialty leaf and celery. Read more
By 2028, United Way wants to see 95 percent of students in the United States graduate from high school ready for college and career. It’s one of the organization’s “impact goals” for the next decade.
In Palm Beach County, the graduation rate for the 2016-2017 school year was an all-time high of 85 percent. So, what is the Town of Palm Beach United Way doing to increase the rate by 10 percentage points over the next 10 years?