United Way works to end America’s education crisis

Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. But with more than 1.2 million children dropping out each year, America faces an education crisis. The cost? More than $312 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes.1These trends are reversible, but only when communities and public, private and nonprofit sectors work together.

Our Goal

In 2017, United Way of Merced County will be work to collectively improve and holistically add to the value of education within Merced County. All students deserve an enriching educational experience, and we plan on contributing to the effort of ensuring our children have access to the necessary resources, educational opportunities, and an overall quality education.

Our Strategy

Our strategy will be a two-pronged approach in which we will both fund and partner with community and/or governmental agencies to meet our goals of improving the educational experience for Merced County children. Through collaborative ventures with local agencies, we’ll be able to leverage and/or provide add-to-value to existing and effective programming within our communities. In addition, we will be funding educational organizations seeking to enhance the educational experience, meet the needs of those most vulnerable, and those that take innovative approaches to assisting students with at-risk needs.

Our Focus Areas & Groups

  • Music & Arts
  • STEAM-Type Programs
  • At-Risk Programs
  • Vulnerable Populations

The following represent the EDUCATION activities UWMC is currently involved in and/or provides funding support:



 Merced Symphony Association is the primary organization that provides sustainable infrastructure for classical music in Merced County. We receive positive feedback year after year from teachers, students, and parents.The annual January Children’s Concerts play to large audiences. In 2016 they served over 3,600 students across 7 cities within Merced County. Our teaching packets enable teachers to instruct students prior to the concerts and thus enrich their understanding of the music they hear. Many adults and students expressed gratitude for the concert as they left venues.




Deaf & Hard of Hearing Wellness Program (D-Well), provides monthly workshops using American Sign Language and visual aids on healthy eating/nutrition, active living, stress management, health promoting hobbies, building support systems, obesity prevention, and an overall curriculum promoting wellness. All workshops are geared toward educating our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. D-Well’s ultimate goal is that, by providing clients with information on health-related topics in a  culturally and linguistically accessible format, attendees will develop an improved sense of overall health and self-worth.


 Buhach Colony H.S. Engineering & Robotics inspires young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, teamwork, and leadership. Students participate it competitions at the national level competing to design a robot capable of meeting the event’s goals of which vary each year. Students start off with a kit of parts, a video of the challenges ahead, and the rules each team is to follow, along with the timelines to complete various stages. Students must go through training in virtual design software called Inventor, while also learning the basics in electronics, circuits, mechanical engineering and computer programming. The program aims to reach all students; placing an emphasis on minorities and female students.


 El Capitan High School – Illusion Robotics is a registered member of FIRST robotics, a non-profit, international organization dedicated to increasing student participation in STEM fields. We provide opportunities to our students that are not found in the regular curriculum.  Students are learning programming, CAD, electronics design, project planning, public speaking and teamwork.  The students experience planning and executing a complex project given only an end goal and few guidelines, similar to what they might experience working in STEM fields after they finish their education.  Our team is dedicated to spreading the message and values of FIRST to students of all ages in our county. 


Center of Vision Enhancement – COVE implemented a program that provides support, training and assistive aids to blind/visually impaired homemakers so they can attain the skills required for independent living.  Assistive aids include a variety of aids such as writing guides, talking watches, bump dots, magnifiers, and assistive technology depending on the need of the homemaker.


 Sacred Rok supports youth in nature, helping youth to learn to respect nature and through that, to respect themselves.  This is accomplished by taking young peopleon day trips and camping trips, outreach through educational presentations, newsletters, videos, books and working with other youth-serving agencies.  The youth have reported a better understanding of nature and the natural world and to feel more self confidence.  These trips have also helped the youth to feel less stressed and anxious.   


Court Appointed Special Advocates – CASA of Merced County’s LIFE programs goal is to provide youth with opportunities to acquire new understanding and problem-solving skills which, in turn, will influence their academic accomplishments. Youth will be given opportunities to visit college and university campuses to encourage them to pursue a college degree. The program teaches youth the five PIECS of well-being: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Cultural and Social well-being, and how they are interconnected in developing a healthy, successful life.



Alliance for Community Transformations – Valley Crisis Center provides successful domestic and sexual violence support groups in various languages.  The program provides a safe space to cultivate open dialogue to support and provide information, tools, tips and education about the effects of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and trauma to individuals, family members, co-workers and/or peers who are survivors.  Once someone is connected to VCC, the services include meeting individual’s basic needs through: referrals, emergency shelter, legal assistance, and counseling for individuals and their families.



How You Can Help

To reach our goal, we need your help. The strategies proven to work are those that connect communities to their schools: parent involvement; literacy volunteers in the classroom; mentors for disadvantaged students; business leaders engaged in early childhood advocacy.


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1Figure according to Communities in Schools, one of America’s leading drop-out prevention partnerships.


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