2007 United Way Survey - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

2007 United Way Survey

United Way of Northwest Louisiana

COMMUNITY IMPACT SURVEY

"What do we think needs doing?"

July 2007


The board of United Way of Northwest Louisiana met in February 2007 and determined it needed to change its business model. The conclusion was that in the donor's eye the historical model of fundraising for the benefit of other organizations was no longer relevant - there was no distinction of value or difference by the donor. 2007 donors are more attracted to causes and programs that can specifically exhibit results.

Thus the decision was to shift the message and core work of our United Way to focus on issues and solutions for community benefit. It was decided that no more needs analysis were necessary - there were plenty around, and every list and ranking showed our area lagging the rest of the country in human welfare indicators.

It was decided to ask United Way donors and the northwest Louisiana community at large what they thought was important to "fix" in order to make this a better place to live. Our conclusion was donors would be most willing to invest in issues they thought were important. We needed to discover how to frame the program solutions to achieve what the community believes needs to be done the most.

Accordingly, a survey instrument was developed that listed twenty-six (26) serious community issues. People were asked to pick the top five (5) of these issues they thought most needed attention, and then the next (5) that they also thought were most important.

The survey was sent directly to 400 leadership givers of United Way (those that give $1,000 per year or more). An online survey was also created and advertised to the public through various media outlets (there were guest editorials in The Times and on KSLA, editorial comment in The Forum, linkages on their websites to the survey and on other websites). The CEOs of the 50 top United Way supporting companies were asked to request their employees take part in the survey, and many did.

The results were interesting to say the least, and revealing as to what the public thinks are the issues that most need addressing. Stated directly - this is not a Needs Analysis - this is a public perception of their sense of what needs addressing most. Some basic demographic data was also collected and some analysis of that is revealing as well, showing different constituencies have different priorities.

Overall Results

Results were tabulated in two general groups - what did people consider to be the top 5 issues that needed addressing, and what were in their top 10. The survey and its measurement were designed to be simple: the ranking is only whether an issue was in the top 5 or next 5 and what percent of the people ranked it there. Thus the below lists and discussions are framed by the percentage of people who ranked items as in the top 5 or 10, not what was first, second, etc. But, the percentages do show which issues were most often in a top 5 or top 10 and thus on the "important list." Some editorial comment on service provider input by general category of response follows the listings.

The Ranking of what was in the top 5 most important issues

1. Basic Needs - 56% - First overall, and on almost every segmented analysis, was Basic Needs - the community should insure families have adequate food, shelter, clothing, utility service and personal safety.
2. Reduce the Juvenile crime rate - 46% - the second priority in every segmentation of the Top 5.
3. Reduce the use of illegal drugs - 36% - and again, in every segmented analysis.
4. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent - 29%.
5. Ensure children are cared for in a safe nurturing environment outside of school hours -27%.

The Next 5

The only clear cut items in the second five were reducing the dropout rate and ensuring children were cared for after school. After several sets of analysis, it was determined that the best indicators were those items mentioned in either of the two choices (top 5 or second 5) thus creating a Top 10 of those items selected for either category. This confirmed some issues, and brought some other issues to the forefront.

The Top 10

1. Basic Needs - 74% - Clearly an interest across the community
2. Reduce the Juvenile crime rate - 71% - a major concern in people's mind.
3. Reduce the use of illegal drugs - 60% - and again, in every segmented analysis.
4. Reduce the Number of School Dropouts - 55% - while this was third for men and Shreveport in general, it was eighth for women and Bossier in general.
5. Ensure children are cared for in a safe nurturing environment outside of school hours -53%.
6. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent - 49%.
7. Reduce the rate of domestic violence - 49%.
8. Reduce the child abuse rate - 46%.
9. Ensure services are available for those with a disability - 45%.
10. Reduce the teen pregnancy rate - 44%


General Conclusions

„X Meeting Basic Needs are a clear community priority.
o An implication that can be read into this is a realization of the significant issue with poverty in our region and the public recognizing meeting immediate needs for folks surviving day-to-day was critical.
o There are issues such as natural disasters that suddenly impact individuals and families causing crisis, and services to assist them are needed and necessary.
o Recent years have seen an increase in public awareness around the core issues - the need for sufficient and healthy food, adequate shelter, and clothing.
o The late Dr. Charles Beaird, while publisher of the now closed Shreveport Journal, was an early and strong advocate that utilities should be included among these "basic human needs" and we agree. Inability to pay utility bills (as well as rent) often causes relocation and when children are involved there can be multiple school changes in a year (some inner city elementary schools have student turnover approaching 50% during the school year).
o Other authorities also include "personal safety" as a basic need (which might be borne out in succeeding priorities).
„X Reduce the Juvenile Crime rate was also a clear issue in many people's mind.
o Some subject matter authorities perceive this to be one of the calls for improved graduation rates and job preparedness - and that programs that produce those positive outcomes would result in reduced juvenile crime rates.
o Others see this prioritization as a strong call for personal and neighborhood safety - wanting to live with peace of mind and freedom from safety worries for their families.
o Regardless of the motivation, it was a strong call to improve a situation that is perceived as prevalent in the community.
„X Reducing the use of illegal drugs is top of mind with most respondents, and is also open to different interpretations.
o Some see this as a contributor to both crime and poverty, and a move to address this would improve overall living standards.
o It is also a different call for safety - illegal drugs come from illegal sales, gangs and therefore other crimes. This particular view can be derived from the news reports of crime (especially homicide) that note the incident being drug related.
„X Children, their safety and preparedness for their future, is an issue that is in many responses:
o Certainly improving the graduation rate is factor that many experts affirm as a broad based community solution. There were several other priority issues whose solution would contribute to improving this issue. In segment analysis,
„X Graduation rate was ranked high by men, as were associated issues around job preparedness.
„X Older respondents as well as higher income Shreveport zip codes were more concerned about graduation rates.
„X Interestingly, Bossier zip codes only ranked graduation 13th when looking at their "top 5" tabulations (although it was 8th on their top 10) - speculation is both a higher socio-economic population in Bossier City (families whose children tend to graduate) as well as a perceived better Parish school system (although Caddo has 3 of the highest performing schools in the state).
o Having a safe place for children to go after school is one of the education related solutions, as well as an aid in other issues:
„X After school and summer care for children whose parent(s) must work is a child safety issue.
„X "After school" is synonymous in many people's mind with tutoring and mentoring - and is at many programs that have this outcome as a goal.
„X It indirectly addresses other priority issues as it has been shown that over 60% of juvenile crime occurs between 3:00 and 6:00 PM - as do a significant majority of the teen pregnancies! Supervised situations for this short period of time have been shown to decrease the frequency of these issues.
o Reducing child abuse was present in the top 10 on most segmentation analyses.
o Men ranked juvenile crime first in their top 10 concerns, even slightly ahead of basic needs. Improving graduation rates was high with them, as well as job preparedness.
o Women selected more around safety and care and concern for children.
o Most respondents indicated that being prepared for a job and earning enough to maintain independence were items that need addressing.
„X A derived conclusion is a concern over health issues - both mental and physical.
o Basic needs implies several health concerns from local and statewide health characteristic issues, especially those related to diet and lifestyle which lead to unhealthy situations.
o The issues around abuse indicate a concern for mental health.
o Ensuring access to services is available for those with disabilities.
o These were especially true in the rural areas as access and availability for services were 4th and 5th on their top 5 (although this is indicative of interest, rural input only accounted for about 10% of survey responses).



United Way Response to Community Input


Seeing the survey results, work done in other communities, and other needs analyses and rankings of issues (state rankings on education, health issues, crime, etc.), the United Way's Strategic Planning Committee recommended to its board the organization should assess future work and funding around four major community impact and critical improvement areas.

These will provide a framework for desired community level outcomes which will be a basis for developing partnerships with other organizations and funders who are interested in working towards the same outcomes.

The framework will also provide a method to express positive progress around the issues, and especially in relation to issues the community believes to be the most important so it can be reported in this manner (e.g., emphasize more that children and youth engaged in some after school program are less likely to be involved in crime, become pregnant, and are better prepared for a beneficial future).

These impact areas and the ongoing structure to work with them are detailed in the planning committee board recommendations attached, but in summary are:

„X Basic Needs/Unforeseen Hardships - Providing for our population that is daily challenged in life, as well as being ready to assist those who suddenly are faced with a crisis is core to our mission.
„X Families and Children - Strengthening these units and thus providing a better environment for children of all ages will provide the best foundation to creating positive futures. Most major issues surround this area.
„X Learning and Earning - Proper preparation to be independent in the future is key - it is achieving as many graduates as possible, as well as creating competencies in various employable skill sets.
„X Healthy Communities - healthy living at all age levels creates more positive life conditions, enables higher achievement, and benefits both the individual and the community.

United Way of Northwest Louisiana's mission is to mobilize the spirit of community to improve people's lives. It is believed that working with the community to focus on the future through these lenses is the best way to fulfill that mission.

We need many changes to make this a better place to live., and often the nature and scope of these seem overwhelming. But we believe such change is achievable if approached in a positive manner with the right objectives in mind. Perhaps one respondent summed up the needed direction the best in their additional comment:

"I believe that if we avoid general terms such as ¡¥reduce crime rate' and concentrate on specific goals to raise standards of living, and work to increase cultural awareness and tolerance across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic strata [we will see improvements]...There is no easy fix, but I believe that change has to start at a grass-roots level and that when individuals change their perceptions of others and give up long-held, baseless biases, these other changes will begin to evolve."
Demographic Top 5s of United Way Community Impact Survey

Men
1. Basic needs met
2. Reduce juvenile crime
3. Reduce use of illegal drugs
4 Reduce dropouts
5 Children are cared for in a safe nurturing environment

Women
1 Basic needs met
2 Reduce juvenile crime
3 Reduce use of illegal drugs
4 Individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment
5 Reduce child abuse

Shreveport

1. Basic needs met
2. Reduce juvenile crime
3. Reduce use of illegal drugs
4. Individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment
5. Reduce dropouts

Bossier

1. Basic needs met
2. Reduce juvenile crime
3. Reduce use of illegal drugs
4. Reduce child abuse
5. Reduce the rate of domestic violence

Rural

1. Basic needs met
2. Reduce juvenile crime
3. Reduce use of illegal drugs
4. Services are available to those with a disability
5. All have access to medical, dental, and mental healthcare

African-American

1. Basic needs met
2. Reduce juvenile crime
3. Reduce use of illegal drugs
4. Reduce the rate of domestic violence
5. Individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment

Caucasian

1. Basic needs met
2. Reduce juvenile crime
3. Reduce use of illegal drugs
4. Individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment
5. Children are cared for in a safe nurturing environment


Demographic Top 10 of United Way Community Impact Survey

Men Top 10

1. Reduce the juvenile crime rate
2. Ensure families have their basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing, utilities, personal safety, disaster services, etc.)
3. Reduce the number of school dropouts
4. Reduce the use of illegal drugs
5. Ensure children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment outside school hours
6. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent
7. Reduce the teen pregnancy rate
8. Ensure that preschool age children learn and develop in a safe and nurturing environment
9. Ensure services are available for those with a disability
10. Reduce the rate of domestic violence

Women Top 10

1. Ensure families have their basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing, utilities, personal safety, disaster services, etc.)
2. Reduce the juvenile crime rate
3. Reduce the use of illegal drugs
4. Ensure children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment outside school hours
5. Reduce the rate of domestic violence
6. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent
7. Reduce the child abuse rate
8. Reduce the number of school dropouts
9. Ensure services are available for those with a disability
10. Reduce the teen pregnancy rate

Shreveport Top 10

1. Ensure families have their basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing, utilities, personal safety, disaster services, etc.)
2. Reduce the juvenile crime rate
3. Reduce the number of school dropouts
4. Reduce the use of illegal drugs
5. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent
6. Ensure children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment outside school hours
7. Reduce the rate of domestic violence
8. Reduce the child abuse rate
9. Reduce the teen pregnancy rate
10. Ensure services are available for those with a disability

Bossier Top 10

1. Ensure families have their basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing, utilities, personal safety, disaster services, etc.)
2. Reduce the use of illegal drugs
3. Reduce the juvenile crime rate
4. Ensure children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment outside school hours
5. Reduce the child abuse rate
6. Ensure services are available for those with a disability
7. Reduce the rate of domestic violence
8. Reduce the number of school dropouts
9. Reduce the teen pregnancy rate
10. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent

Rural Top 10

1. Ensure families have their basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing, utilities, personal safety, disaster services, etc.)
2. Reduce the juvenile crime rate
3. Reduce the use of illegal drugs
4. Ensure children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment outside school hours
5. Ensure that preschool age children learn and develop in a safe and nurturing environment
6. Increase harmony and cooperation among racial, ethnic, and cultural groups
7. Reduce the rate of domestic violence
8. Ensure services are available for those with a disability
9. Enable the elderly to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible
10. Reduce the number of school dropouts

African-American Top 10

1. Ensure families have their basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing, utilities, personal safety, disaster services, etc.)
2. Reduce the juvenile crime rate
3. Reduce the use of illegal drugs
4. Reduce the rate of domestic violence
5. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent
6. Reduce the number of school dropouts
7. Increase harmony and cooperation among racial, ethnic, and cultural groups
8. Ensure services are available for those with a disability
9. Ensure children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment outside school hours
10. Reduce the teen pregnancy rate

Caucasian Top 10

1. Ensure families have their basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing, utilities, personal safety, disaster services, etc.)
2. Reduce the juvenile crime rate
3. Reduce the use of illegal drugs
4. Reduce the number of school dropouts
5. Ensure children are cared for in a safe, nurturing environment outside school hours
6. Ensure that individuals have the ability to earn enough through employment to become economically independent
7. Reduce the child abuse rate
8. Reduce the rate of domestic violence
9. Reduce the teen pregnancy rate
10. Ensure services are available for those with a disability

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