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Community Newsletter: United Way of Racine County | Faith & Community

RACINE COUNTY — For 100 years, the United Way of Racine County has been creating impact in the Racine County community, and a large part of that impact has come through the mobilization of the caring power of Racine County residents. Volunteers are, and have always been, integral to supporting United Way. There are many meaningful ways for community members to use their time and talents to impact the community through volunteering.

Day of Caring is the largest volunteer day of the year for United Way. The event follows kickoff and will take place from 9:30 am to noon Saturday, Sept. 17. Volunteers are spread throughout Racine to support volunteer projects like cooking pancakes for Mitchell Community School’s pancake breakfast or assisting in invasive plant removal at River Bend Nature Center . This aid is critical in supporting important staples of the Racine community. Individuals and families are welcome at sites throughout Racine County.

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Schools of Hope, Walking School Bus

Schools of Hope and the Walking School Bus offer two types of volunteerism to help students succeed academically. Schools of Hope is a United Way initiative in partnership with Racine Unified School District. Tutors work one-on-one with young children for at least 30 minutes per week to increase their reading abilities. This is critical as data has shown that a student who is not at least moderately successful in reading by the third grade is unlikely to graduate from high school. The program lasts from October through May.

The Walking School Bus is a partnership between United Way and Racine Unified School District that offers students a safe and fun way to get to school. Each “bus” walks along a predetermined route with adult volunteers stopping along the way to pick up children and walk them to school. This program is crucial to ensuring that students make it to school on time and safely every day. A time commitment of once per week is preferred. The time to complete a route varies between 45 minutes to an hour. Volunteers are required to pass a background check for both Schools of Hope and the Walking School Bus. Training is provided prior to the start of working with students, and no prior experience is required.

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Another great way to volunteer is by becoming an IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteer. Volunteers for United Way’s VITA program prepare and file tax returns for free for low-to-moderate income Racine County residents to help ensure that every person in Racine County has free access to their earned tax refund. No prior experience is needed to participate in this program, and all training will be provided. VITA volunteers work at least one shift per week during tax season, and shifts range from two to four hours. There are a variety of both virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities available.

Volunteer Advisory Team

Volunteer Advisory Team (VAT) volunteers support United Way’s community investment process by evaluating program proposals, making funding recommendations and reviewing data to monitor program outcomes. VAT team members are a critical part of the competitive grant process that funds proposals for programs that support United Way’s focus areas of health, education, financial stability and essential services. VAT volunteers must live or work in Racine County and be available to attend virtual meetings during the February to May funding cycle, with occasional meetings and commitments between June and January. Meetings typically begin at 4 pm The total time commitment for each year is approximately 30 hours, and volunteers are asked to make a minimum commitment of two years.

United Way of Racine County has impactful volunteer opportunities suited for a variety of skill sets. All work aids in improving the lives of Racine County residents. To help make a difference by becoming a volunteer, go to UnitedWayRacine.org/Get-Involved.

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