New “United We Can” Video Celebrates Your Impact

girl rests her head on school desk

For 100 years, United Way of San Diego County has brought people together to transform the lives of local families. Our new video, “United We Can,” celebrates the changes that are possible when we unite for the good of our community. From achieving racial equity to boosting childhood literacy to supporting those hit hardest by COVID-19, together we can face and overcome San Diego’s challenges.

Education and family stability

In partnership with local organizations, United Way of San Diego County provides resources to help children, young adults, and families thrive. We focus in particular on supporting education and family stability. Nearly half of all local families struggle to make ends meet. The high cost of living and lack of affordable housing in San Diego County puts low-income families at risk of homelessness. This instability causes kids to fall academically and socially behind. In order to succeed in school, children need stable housing and a safe family environment. To that end, we support families through free tax services and assistance with mortgage, rent, utilities, and food when times are tough. By uplifting low-income households, United Way of San Diego County and its partners help build stronger children and families.

We also work to increase literacy among all students and address educational gaps between White and Asian, and Black and Brown children. Third-grade reading scores are widely accepted as the best indicator of whether a student will finish high school, but 49 percent of third graders are not reading at grade level. Our work ensures that all San Diego children enter school ready to succeed, read proficiently by the end of third grade, and graduate high school ready for college or a career. United Way of San Diego County equips children of all races and backgrounds to thrive in school, knowing that when students succeed, the entire community benefits.

Responding to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic compounds challenges faced by families this year. Many have lost income and employment. Children have had to adapt to remote learning and risk falling behind in school. Families face financial uncertainty, health risks, and social isolation.

During our hundred-year history, United Way of San Diego County has been here for those who need support—and the current crisis of COVID-19 is no different. In March of 2020, our team launched the Worker Assistance Initiative to support low-wage workers who experienced job loss or wage reduction with rent, mortgage, and utilities payment assistance. As the pandemic progressed and the challenges facing the community changed, we reevaluated who was most in need. We then partnered with trusted organizations to ensure that assistance was provided to our most vulnerable community members. Thanks to these partnerships and the generosity of donors, we were able to provide flexible resources to qualified individuals and families who were the most severely impacted by layoffs and reduced working hours.

In “United We Can” you’ll meet the Cornejos. This family of four faced a financial crisis after losing their barber business due to government closures. As their income dried up and savings dwindled, they teetered on the brink of homelessness. But with financial assistance from United Way and community partners, fueled by the generosity of individual and corporate philanthropists, the Cornejos were able to pay their internet and electric bills. Their two children—one of whom has a chronic autoimmune disease—could rejoin their classrooms online. Most importantly, they were free to learn without worrying about their family’s future.

“My 14-year-old son told us that he felt a little bit better about what the future holds, and with stress being a major factor in his disease, this brought me relief,” Lacey Kennedy Cornejo said.

Celebrating your partnership

As United Way of San Diego County celebrates one hundred years of service in the community, we are also working to redefine and reimagine the future. We know that the most effective way to strengthen our community is by aligning with community and philanthropic partners to leverage resources. Change starts small, but our goals are big.

We are United Way, but it is partners and supporters like you who make us a success. That’s why we celebrate you in our new video. Watch “United We Can” to learn how we can face and overcome San Diego’s challenges—together.