CHANGE HAPPEN. TOGETHER, WE RE MAKING PUBLIC POLICY AGENDA LEAD. INSPIRE. MAKE A DIFFERENCE. GIVE. ADVOCATE. VOLUNTEER.

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1 LEAD. INSPIRE. MAKE A DIFFERENCE. TOGETHER, WE RE MAKING CHANGE HAPPEN PUBLIC POLICY AGENDA GIVE. ADVOCATE. VOLUNTEER. United Way of Greater Cleveland unitedwaycleveland.org

2 Funding and influencing programs is at the heart of what we do. But engaging in public policy is a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of people in Greater Cleveland. Under the guidance of our Public Policy Advocacy Council and with Board of Directors endorsement, we advance city, county, state and federal policies to address community needs and generate lasting community impact. Through these efforts we mobilize people, organizations and resources in a focused effort to advance education, income and health in our Greater Cleveland community. Our volunteers have identified overarching priorities to create a strong, vibrant and healthy community to guide our public policy advocacy agenda. Prepare our kids to enter school ready to learn and graduate from high school (Kindergarten readiness, Academic success, High school graduation) Advance individuals and families to financial empowerment (Earn it, Keep it, Save it) Build a healthy and resilient community (Start healthy, Stay healthy, Support strong systems) Breaking the cycle of poverty, reducing dropouts and improving health in Greater Cleveland depends on engaging the entire community. Our goal is to bring together all our partners: business, labor, government, nonprofits and advocates to help find common ground to advance the common good. We must work together to ensure our priorities are heard, our community is represented, good ideas are funded and outdated policies are modernized. We invite you to LIVE UNITED and join us in our efforts to set the stage for real and lasting change to improve people s lives and strengthen the Greater Cleveland community. Sincerely, Mylayna S. Albright, Chair Public Policy Advocacy Council United Way of Greater Cleveland

3 United Way of Greater Cleveland PUBLIC POLICY AGENDA To be a strong leader and reliable coalition partner, United Way of Greater Cleveland prioritizes its public policy issues into three categories: Tier One: Lead Priorities United Way of Greater Cleveland will take a leadership role and dedicate significant time and energy to these issues. We will proactively advocate and create visibility for these issues. We will convene stakeholders, lobby, support research, draft and/or support policies, provide public testimonies and mobilize grassroots advocacy. Academic Success for Kids Improving public education is essential to creating opportunity and breaking the cycle of poverty in our community. While there s been improvement, nearly 40 percent of kids still aren t graduating from high school in Cleveland. Our kids deserve a high-quality education so they can graduate and be ready for college, careers and citizenship in the 21st century. We proactively advocate for public policies to help kids achieve their highest potential in school. Advocate for resources to support the Cleveland Metropolitan School District wraparound initiative to help improve learning, engage parents, support teachers and remove barriers to academic success. Support The Cleveland Plan to improve public education in our city. Promote afterschool and summer learning programs, along with mentoring programs, such as the State of Ohio s Community Connectors. Research demonstrates these expanded learning opportunities improve academic, social and emotional development. Oppose repeal of Common Core and support grade-level reading. Childhood Trauma Intervention and Prevention With high rates of poverty, homelessness, child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault in our community, too many of our kids are at risk of acute trauma. There is a growing understanding that untreated trauma is a root cause of many of the most pressing problems we face low academic achievement, addiction and a multitude of health and social problems. Fortunately, solutions do exist. Addressing childhood trauma will improve lives, strengthen families, help make our neighborhoods safe and reduce the need for costly, long-term health and human services. Promote the creation of a Child Advocacy Center in Cuyahoga County, as Cleveland is the only major urban city in Ohio without one. A child-focused, coordinated program works to effectively investigate, prosecute and treat child abuse without further victimization of child victims and their non-offending family members. Advocate for trauma intervention and prevention policies to restore a child s sense of safety, reduce PTSD, and prevent the selfperpetuating cycle of negative coping, which often leads to a lifetime struggle with addictions, illness and disability. Promote efforts to combat human trafficking. Ohio is among the top five states in the U.S. for human trafficking, and the average age to enter into prostitution is 13 years old. Support a continuum of safe and affordable housing to end chronic homelessness for families. Continued Expansion of United Way In 2014, more than 264,000 people called United Way and another 184,000 accessed the online database of resources at 211cleveland.org to find information about social, health and government resources ranging from veterans services to substance abuse issue and scores of critical topics. Promote the network as a central source for all health and human service information and referral. Advocate for 100 percent statewide coverage to include 20 counties currently without coverage.

4 Tier 2: Partner Priorities United Way of Greater Cleveland will support the work of coalition and community partners who are thought leaders on these issues. We will advocate, support visibility and generate grassroots engagement. Financial Empowerment Despite recent gains, high unemployment rates and access to jobs with a career pathway continue to be a challenge for too many in our community. We advocate for workforce development policies that help families earn a livable wage, which is approximately $17.61/hour in Cuyahoga County. We also advocate for policies to enable and encourage households to save and build a financial safety net across the lifespan. Promote career pathway programming to reduce the skills gap, such as aligning career and technical education programs to meet the needs of 21st century employers. Support skills-based hiring practices and National Career Readiness Certification to help businesses expand their talent pool by identifying job seekers who have the capacity to do the job, but lack the education and experience traditionally required. Promote innovative literacy programs and developmental education. Support establishment of Financial Empowerment Centers throughout Cuyahoga County to help families and individuals acquire the skills to avoid a financial crisis. Over one-fourth of Cuyahoga County residents are living in asset poverty and can t cover basic expenses for three months if a loss of income occurs. Advocate for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Basic Needs: Food Security and Affordable Housing While funding exists at the state and federal level for food and nutrition services, it hasn t been adequate to meet the need. We re working with community partners to promote increased funding and policy changes to improve access to affordable, nutritious food. The high cost of housing leaves working families vulnerable to eviction or foreclosure if their income is interrupted or if they have an unexpected expense. We support policies to strengthen neighborhoods and help ensure families have a quality, affordable roof over their heads so families aren t forced to end up in a homeless shelter, sleeping in a car, or on the street. Protect and strengthen the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Promote recommended policies by the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Taskforce to provide access to fresh, affordable produce and a healthy diet. While approximately 31 percent of Ohio s children ages are overweight, another 25 percent wonder IF they will be able to eat each day. Strengthen foreclosure prevention and advocate for the Cuyahoga County Property Demolition Fund. Support the creation of a countywide comprehensive housing and redevelopment policy to provide a strategic framework and resources to address targeted demolition, housing renovation and effectively reuse vacant land. Healthy Families Good health is fundamental to a child s ability to succeed in school and adults ability to provide for their families. We support policies to build a healthy and resilient community. Support Medicaid reauthorization and expansion of mental/behavioral health services. Over 97,000 individuals in Cuyahoga County have benefited from expansion, which has reduced uncompensated care and cost shifting. Address Ohio s 47th ranking in infant mortality. In Cuyahoga County, 10 out of every 1,000 babies will not survive through their first birthday and African American babies are three times more likely than white babies to be affected. Women need access to health care before, during and after pregnancy.

5 Tier 3: Watch Priorities United Way of Greater Cleveland will monitor these issues and respond to opportunities to advance or protect the common good, such as signing joint letters, communicating with local officials and our advocacy network. Philanthropy and Volunteerism Support tax policies and regulations that encourage philanthropy and volunteerism, such as preserving the charitable deduction and creating parity between nonprofits and business for tax credits and incentives. Support funding for programs that support philanthropy and volunteerism, such as the Corporation for National and Community Service programs, including AmeriCorps VISTA. Federal Programs Support reauthorization of federal health and human service programs that address critical health and human service needs in our community, such as Children s Health Insurance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Support reauthorization of federal housing programs, such as Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, National Housing Trust Fund, New Market Tax Credits and HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. Support fair consumer practices and promote equitable policies to stabilize government benefits when household income increases and minimize the funding cliff. Expand subsidized child care for children in low-income families to 150 percent of the federal poverty level and expand subsidized care for families up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level with reasonable co-pays. Strong Neighborhoods Support policies to address neighborhood safety. Support policies to enhance transportation options and improvements to build neighborhoods to better meet the needs of seniors and children.

6 These priorities serve as a guide and do not limit any new policy issues which may arise. To find out more about our public policy agenda or how you can get involved, please contact Anne Feleppelle, Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs, at or United Way of Greater Cleveland 1331 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH unitedwaycleveland.org

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