You have the opportunity to help shape a child’s future for the better by empowering him or her to achieve. And the best part is, it’s actually a lot of fun.
It’s pretty simple.  A few hours a month sharing activities you enjoy with a child in need.  By building a trusting friendship you can make a powerful impact in his/her life and your own.

Call us at 232-9958 or visit our website at to learn how you can become a Big Brother or Sister mentor.





Click here to download full report.


(April 2013 to March 2014)

Click here to download full report.




What were the results of the research?

Why did the Board choose poverty as the issue? UWSJC believes that poverty (self-sufficiency and family economic security) is a serious epidemic that demands collective action. The condition of poverty is linked with quality education. Children living in poverty are more likely not to be prepared for or succeed in school, and less likely to complete or further their education.  (Alliance for Excellent Education; American Graduate.)

Summary: Donor survey and key leader interview results showed that poverty/economic self-sufficiency and education are perceived as the primary social problems for our community. Interviewees endorsed the “issue focus” model. They also supported UWSJC’s role as a leader to address a key issue. Most respondents of the donor survey indicated that they would continue to donate and volunteer (or would increase their participation) if either poverty or education were selected as the focus. 

New Model: Board members decided that the community and UWSJC would not be well-served by continuing the traditional fundraising focus. To make a long-lasting impact in our community, Board members voted to adopt a “laser focus” on a key community issue.

Poverty defined: “Poverty for a family of four is demonstrated by an annual income of $23,050 or less.”  (2012: The Department of Health and Human Services) “Families and their children experience poverty when they are unable to achieve a minimum, decent standard of living that allows them to participate fully in mainstream society.” (The National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University.)

The epidemic of poverty right here at home: The poverty rate in St. Joseph County is 20%, 5% higher than the Indiana poverty rate. 53,000 children, women and men live in poverty. Nearly 20,000 children live in poverty or 1 out of every 3 children under the age of 18. In Indiana, our county has the 7th highest poverty rate, the 4th highest number of children who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch and 4th highest number of people qualified for Food Stamps. (2011, U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U. S. Census Bureau, Indiana Family and Social Services, Indiana Dept. of Education, Indiana Business Research Center)

Many services and programs in our community address poverty or its effects.  However, in the absence of focused, collective action, the UWSJC Board is concerned that the number of people in poverty will continue to grow.

Next Steps: Board members, current and new public and private partners, as well as staff  will develop and implement a strategic plan. The plan will align programs and services with this issue. Measures for success and resources to address the issue will be identified and pursued.  The move to an issue focus will impact UWSJC’s organizational structure, allocation investment process and initiatives/services, marketing communications, development resources and governance practices.

Click here to download full report.


SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The United Way of St. Joseph County welcomes new staff members Cory Hankins and Dennis Kaplan to its Mission Advancement Team.

Cory Hankins joins United Way as the resident Art Director. He brings with him a full repertoire of design, marketing, public affairs, advertising, photography and print production experience and holds a BFA in Visual Communication and minors in Marketing and Spanish from Ball State University. While living in Chicago, Cory served as Graphic Designer for ComPsych Corporation, Communications Designer/Production Supervisor for The American Bar Endowment and Associate Art Director for Lou Beres & Associates, Inc. Having recently moved back to the Michiana area, Cory and his family live in Mishawaka.

Dennis Kaplan joins United Way as the Government and Foundation Relationship Manager. Dennis has significant expertise in proposal research and writing; grant administration and reporting; strategic planning, budget and program evaluation; community and donor relations; and agency collaboration and partnership cultivation. He has served in a similar capacity for the Franciscan Alliance, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Family & Children’s Center, WNIT Public Television, and The Center for the Homeless. Dennis studied Journalism and American History at Indiana University and currently resides in South Bend with his wife.

Celebrating its 100th Anniversary, United Way of St. Joseph County is a nonprofit organization whose newly-revised mission statement is the following: To mobilize the community to collectively reduce poverty. The organization works in conjunction with 23 local agency partners and 53 programs to address key priorities in St. Joseph County.

MA-1116_Membership_Requirements_copy                   2-1-1-Footer