Basic Needs

While we work to address the root causes of important community issues, United Way realizes that there are individuals in our region who need our support right now. Through the Community Human Service Partnership (CHSP), we work to improve housing and housing support services, food assistance programs, personal safety services and disaster response systems. Rarely are any of us prepared when a crisis hits- but when a crisis does occur, United Way is there, providing those in need with services and assistance to bring the stability they need to get back on track.

Throughout the region in fiscal year 2013:

More than 77,000 individuals received food assistance.

  • More than 4,000 individuals received utility assistance.
  • Nearly 5,000 individuals received emergency shelter.
  • 3,499 children received child abuse intervention services.
  • More than 14,650 victims of domestic violence received crisis intervention counseling.

To find a local nonprofit organization that can provide these or other supports, call 2-1-1, a free confidential helpline that connects individuals throughout the Big Bend with health and human services agencies in their local communities.



Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success.  When students don’t graduate, this hurts our community in lost wages, taxes and economic development.  These trends are reversible, but only when school districts and entities in the, public, private and nonprofit sectors work together.

In May, UWBB formed its Education Council to create solutions to three issues identified by our community through our strategic planning process – all of which are critical to ensuring that EVERY student graduates from high school.

Early Education/Literacy was the first issue identified in this area:

Mentoring at Risk Children:

  • A Local Mentor Advisory Board will be created this year

Graduation Rates:

  • UWBB is developing community partnerships that support graduation efforts and help at risk students


When things go wrong, people often say — at least you have your health.  United Way believes that the same is true for our community — good health is necessary for the Big Bend to thrive.

In May, UWBB created its first Health Council, comprised of people from every medical sector of our community.  This council is dedicated to creating solutions for the top three issues identified by our community through our strategic planning process.

Healthy Lifestyles/Education:

  • 62.5% of adults in Leon County are overweight or obese.
  • The southern and western areas of Leon County have been identified by the USDA as food deserts, meaning limited access to grocery stores and healthier food choices.
  • Leon County ranks 55th out of 67 Florida counties for healthy physical environment (air pollution, access to recreational facilities, access to healthy foods, and number of fast food restaurants).
  • 20% of youth in Leon County reported having used an illicit drug within the last 30 days.

Dental Health:

  • Only 23% of Medicaid enrolled children ages 18 and under received any sort of dental care in 2008
  • In 2012, Florida was given an “F” grade for failing to enact stronger policies to improve access to dental care for disadvantaged children
  • In Florida, too few dentists are willing to treat low-income patients because the Medicaid reimbursement rates are too low and do not cover their expenses

Mental Health:

  • Approximately 17,000 people in the Big Bend area have some form of severe and persistent mental illness.
  • Medicaid recipients receive the most comprehensive services and access to providers while people with commercial insurance tend to have fewer providers to choose from, which can cause lengthy waits for care.
  • The legislature has not allocated “new” funding for DCF mental health services in approximately 15 years, causing the agency to limit its mental health services for adults with mild to moderate mental illness.
  • While there are over 100 high acuity psychiatric beds in Tallahassee (at the Apalachee Center for Human Services and Tallahassee Memorial Hospital), there are only 32 residential beds for individuals in the community with severe mental illness. Housing and discharge placement are an enormous challenge for this community


Our post-recession economy continues to improve, yet too many people lack the resources to achieve financial self-sufficiency and stability.  To bridge the gap, United Way partners with volunteers to provide FREE financial education.  This initiative has created an economic impact of over $31 million dollars and has helped countless families get on the road to financial stability.

In May, UWBB formed its Education Council to create solutions to three issues identified by our community through our strategic planning process.  Per the community’s direction, Financial Education and Financial Stability are the two areas of focus for UWBB’s Income Council.

Financial Literacy for Adults

  • Bankruptcy filings in Florida grew from 50,000 in 2008 to 78,635 in 2013.
  • The average credit card debt for Americans as of March 2013 is $15,266.
  • 1/3 of Americans (more than 77 million) do not pay their bills on time
  • 20-28% of Americans borrow from their 401k plans, using the funds as emergency savings instead of an investment for the future.

Financial Literacy for Youth

  • One-third of teenagers are already in debt, owing either some individual or corporation money at levels greater than $1,000.
  • A child with a savings account is seven times more likely to go to college.
  • Student Debt – Florida’s average student debt load is now over $23,000, compared to $26,600 nationally.
  • Florida’s public research institutions rank 47th in the nation in cost, but the state ranks 33rd in the nation in student debts
  • Students in states with required financial education courses are more likely to save, pay off their credit cards, and take average financial risks, and less likely to be compulsive buyers, max out their credit cards, or make late payments compared to those who have not had these courses.

The Working Poor

  • 46.1% of Poor Families are employed.
  • 31.6% of working families in poverty have a parent with some postsecondary education.
  • Almost 44% of working poor families lack a parent with a high school degree, and over 52% of these families have at least one parent without health insurance.
  • 29.6% of Florida households are asset poor (assets they do have are overwhelmed by debt).
  • 51.9% of Florida households are liquid asset poor (have less than three months of savings to fall back on in the event of a job loss or other income-disrupting emergency).

Can you imagine a community where financial challenges become opportunities?

We can.