Good News Network May 2019

We want to thank everyone who helped bring millions of dollars back to hard-working local families through United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This year, more than 130 compassionate people gave their time to help file tax returns for more than 16,000 families for free, saving those individuals and families $4 million in tax preparation fees. Early totals show nearly $24 million in refunds, including $10.5 million from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Whether that money is spent on bills, food or a vacation, that's a major impact on lives right here in Arizona. Click here to learn more about our VITA program and to find out how you can get involved next year.
We love highlighting individuals who join United Way in helping to make Tucson thrive. This month, we'd like to introduce you to a woman born and raised right here in Southern Arizona where she devotes much of her life to improving our community. Adriana Kong Romero has served on the United Way of Tucson board since 2013. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Finance. Adriana also has a Master of Arts in Organizational Management. She's been with Bank of America for 21 years where she's the Tucson Market President. As Market President, she serves as Bank of America’s local enterprise leader, helping to create a more sustainable future for the clients, companies, and local community. She also leads Bank of America’s corporate social responsibility work in the region, which leverages the capabilities of the company to help partners, people, communities, and a broad client and customer base more effectively address a wide range of issues. During her free time, Adriana enjoys spending time with her husband, Frank, and their two Shiba Inus, Kan-i and Simba. She also enjoys photography, traveling and wine tasting. Here's a little more about Adriana:
Why did you choose to get involved with United Way? 
Bank of America’s purpose is to help make financial lives better. An important way we do this is by working with nonprofits, such as the United Way of Tucson & Southern Arizona that are removing barriers to economic stability like hunger, shelter, and other basic needs. It’s one way we can deploy our philanthropic capital to advance economic opportunity in the Tucson community.

What makes United Way such a special organization?
I really love the positive impact that UW makes in the Tucson community by bringing together resources and partners to help address the issues in the community collectively. Hearing the stories about how UW has impacted people’s lives is truly heartwarming and shows how their services and support play a critical role in helping our community thrive. A great example is the Cradle to Career initiative and it shows how United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona truly defines the term, "Collective Impact." 
What do you love most about Tucson?
I love the community and the people. Tucson is such a special place with beautiful natural resources and great people with diverse backgrounds and experiences that come together to build a more vibrant community. Everywhere you go you can find something interesting to see or learn and can run into someone you know or make a new friend along the way.   
United Way of Tucson is proud to be a part of what has now become a national conversation about re-engaging young people in our community. A new article from the Center for Promise highlights the work of Cradle to Career's Opportunity Youth change network, Youth on the Rise (YOTR) in re-engaging Opportunity Youth in school. Opportunity Youth are 16- to 24-year-olds who are not working or in school. Right now, there are more than 21,000 Opportunity Youth in Pima County alone. Click the article to the right to see how relationships and collaboration are vital in making an impact on these young people's lives.
Tony Penn: A thriving Tucson starts with funding for quality preschools
"There is no question that businesses today need an educated and stable workforce, and their future prosperity is contingent on our investing in it now. United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona has a proud tradition of working to advance issues related to early childhood education in our region through our sponsorship of the First Focus on Kids Coalition, our Cradle to Career Partnership and other programs. Each year at our Business Leaders for Early Education Breakfast, the message has been clear: For our community to thrive, every child must have a firm grounding and be ready for school and life beyond. Science has shown that the vast proportion of a child’s brain develops before they enter kindergarten. Those who have attended a high-quality preschool excel and those who do not lag behind, in many cases, for life." Click here to read more.
Thank you to everyone who made our Spring Tocqueville event a huge success. This year, we celebrated the future class of 2035 by discussing the importance of Early Childhood Education and success later in life. Preschool teacher and winner of our 2019 Women United Literacy Champion Award, Ben Collinsworth, spoke to a crowd full of some of Tucson's biggest supporters. Thank you to Dr. Robert C. Robbins, President of the University of Arizona, for hosting at his lovely Presidential residence. Click here to see more photos from the event. Click here to learn more about the Tocqueville Society and how you can get involved.
Right now, thousands of local children are learning the joys of reading thanks to the My Summer Library program. Each year, volunteers d istribute free books to children at local schools to promote literacy and mitigate summer learning loss. Each student is able to choose 12 free books to take home and read over the summer. My Summer Library is funded by grants and private donations and continues until May 17. Click here if to learn about future volunteer opportunities.
For the fourth year in a row, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona employees celebrated Earth Day by cleaning up the Santa Cruz Wash and bike path. United Way is always searching for ways to become more sustainable, encouraging employees to use reusable water bottles and recently switching to reusable metal coffee stirrers. Have a suggestion on how we can go greener?  Click here  to email your idea. 
Attention nonprofits, schools, childcare centers, senior centers and neighborhood associations: we want your projects! Thousands of volunteers will gather this fall for our 20th Annual United Way Days of Caring October 25th and 26th. Last year, more than 4,200 volunteers rolled up their sleeves to complete more than 100 projects around Tucson. Projects ranged from picking weeds, painting and cleaning up trash to packing food, walking dogs and reading to children. Project submission opens May 28th. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Click here to learn more.
Circle of Excellence Wednesday, May 15th
A day of r ecognition for our workplace campaigns and the generous companies and individuals who help build a thriving community.
20th Annual United Way Days of Caring Friday, October 25th- Saturday, October 26th
For two days, thousands of volunteers gather to roll up their sleeves to complete dozens of projects to better Tucson. Sponsorship opportunities are now open! Click here for details.

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