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26 BIG Ideas

The city's leaders in health, science, politics, food, and culture share their game-changing ideas for San Diego in 2016.


(page 15 of 26)

Let’s use data to cure San Diego’s social ills.

Kevin Crawford, CEO, United Way

The nonprofit world has long been missing the mark with redundancies and overlapping services. For instance, a mom might be given clothes when her child needs food and health care instead. “With the old model, a lot of good work was done but not in a coordinated fashion,” says Crawford. But United Way is changing all that. In City Heights, the organization collaborates with the Hoover Cluster of schools, which tracks and shares attendance records and reading scores. After identifying kids who are frequently absent, United Way places social work and public health interns from SDSU and Point Loma Nazarene into the classroom, who in turn reach out to the kids’ families. The interns then refer those families to area nonprofit programs and services that specifically address the issues causing the absenteeism. “They’re not just passing along a phone number, but developing a relationship,” Crawford explains. Later, they follow up to see if attendance and scores have improved. “Before, a lot of the effort was motivated by the heart, and the measuring of success was not as critical. But we’re in a day and age where we need to be more shrewd about outcomes and the cost of those outcomes.” The San Diego County chapter is just one of nine that are incorporating what they call the “collective impact model,” aligning resources among universities, school districts, and nonprofits. Here’s to United Way helping us make a united effort.

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