More than 725,000 residents of Maricopa County saw help and hope in 2019 thanks to a broad spectrum of programs helping Valley families. 

Valley of the Sun United Way is helping Maricopa County address breaking the cycle of poverty, with hundreds of thousands of individuals and families gaining access to healthy foods, educational and vocational opportunities and a range of other critical resources in 2019.  

Valley of the Sun United Way reports the impact of its donors and how their donated dollars go to work helping local citizens and communities — and this year’s report details just how many individuals and families those funds helped in 2019. 

Highlights of the organization’s impact in 2019 included: 

• Supplying more than 635,000 emergency meals for those in need this year

• Providing more than 70,000 students with Breakfast in the Classroom

• 3,766 individuals in workforce development programs foundgainful employment in 2019

• 5,579 individuals received financial coaching assistance

• 8,000 local families received school readiness kits that help parents encourage everyday learning

• 1,113 permanent supportive housing residents received support services to help them get back on their feet

• 2,046 people received services to help prevent homelessness at Project Connect events 

“We highlight some new progressive and innovative ways Valley of the Sun United Way served the community and maximized our impact this past year,” said Valley of the Sun United Way President Carla Vargas Jasa, “It’s through the generosity of the community, and the work of our nonprofit partners that we’re able to help individuals and families with tools to improve their health, boost their skills and break the cycle of poverty.” 

Communities also have expanded access to grocery stores, thanks to the combined efforts of the Valley of the Sun United Way, Food City and Lyft. The three entities teamed up to offer transportation to and from area stores for residents who currently live in “food deserts,” or areas where access to healthy food is scarce, providing a total of 2,737 rides during the summer of 2019. 

The efforts of the United Way and the generosity of its donors also paved the way for thousands of students to take part in after-school programs and related opportunities in 2019, including the United Way’s Youth Engagement Program, which gives students the ability to submit proposals for virtual reality labs, flexible seating options and other projects that would improve the educational experience within their schools.   

Other notable numbers from this year’s report include: 

• $481,000 raised in the fight against childhood hunger by the annual Women United Luncheon featuring Lisa Ling

• Nearly 25% increase in the number of Phoenix Union High School District students completing Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms

• Volunteers and others spent 163,405 hours mentoring youths and fostering positive relationships in their lives 

“While we’re proud of the number of those positively impacted this year, we also recognize that the holiday season can be particularly tough for many of our neighbors,” Vargas Jasa said. 

In recognition of this, the United Way is currently running a “Unite 644” campaign, which seeks to find 644 unique donors – each of whom will represent 1,000 county residents currently challenged with the cycle of poverty — who will donate to the organization between now and the end of the year. Funds raised during the Unite 644 campaign will allow the United Way to continue to provide and expand upon critical services.  

“We’re calling on the community to make 644 unique donations of any size,” Vargas Jasa said. “We also want to make sure people know they may be able to get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for stepping up and being part of our effort.” 

For more about the Valley of the Sun United Way, the Unite 644 campaign and the organization’s continued efforts to break the cycle of poverty in Maricopa County, click here.