Image of the Keeper of the Plains in downtown Wichita.
Opportunity on the Plains invests $6.6 million in area programs

We’re excited to announce funding for 69 human service programs, including 24 new programs, to help individuals and families throughout south central Kansas achieve their human potential. The $6.6 million investment is part of our annual Opportunity on the Plains funding cycle and includes nearly $800,000 in donor-designated funds.

Opportunity on the Plains is the largest, annual investment program from United Way of the Plains to help meet the most pressing needs in our community. It provides grants to health and human service programs in our focus areas of health, education, financial stability and basic needs.

More than 100 applications for the annual funding opportunity were reviewed and evaluated by panels made up of a diverse group of community volunteers. Click here to download a list of this year’s recipients.

Read more about the investment process and our partners in our press release.

A couple meets with a volunteer to file their taxes for free through United Way's free tax prep service.
Record $7.9 million returned to local economy through free tax return assistance

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) initiative, managed by United Way of the Plains, has established a new record in the value of returns processed by IRS-trained volunteers offering free tax return preparation. The program processed $7.6 million in returns last year. This year, 120 volunteers processed more than 5,500 returns valued at $7.9 million.

The VITA program volunteers assist families and individuals making $60,000 or less per year with filing their tax returns to ensure they receive the tax credits they’ve earned. Many individuals depend on their income tax refund to help with car repair bills, mortgage payments and other basic life necessities.

Read more about the impact of this program in our press release.

The remains of a truck sit in an open field after the April 29 tornados swept through parts of Andover and Sedgwick County.
Long-Term Recovery Committee aids those impacted by April 29 tornados

United Way has assembled a Long-Term Recovery Committee with representatives from emergency management in Butler County, Sedgwick County, City of Andover and nonprofits in the region to meet the needs of those directly impacted by the April 29 tornados. Together, they will develop a process to identify unmet needs to provide financial assistance as it is available. Case managers are being assigned to those impacted and are in the process of gathering information regarding long-term needs.

Learn more about our response efforts in our recent blog post.

A classroom of students pose with new books they received from United Way through the Coaching for Literacy initiative.
Students start summer with new books

Logos of the partners that helped lead the Coaching for Literacy initiative with United Way of the Plains, including WSU Men's Basketball Team and Kansas Health Foundation.

In May, 3,050 students in grades K-3 at 14 schools in the Shocker neighborhood received new reading materials to take home and combat summer learning loss. Each student received two books featuring characters of color and guides for parents to help them improve their reading skills. The books were purchased by United Way of the Plains from the 2022 Coaching for Literacy fundraising event in partnership with Wichita State University’s Men’s Basketball during a game played last February to support local childhood literacy efforts. More than $30,000 was raised through the #Fight4Literacy campaign by individual donors and corporate support. Special thanks to the Kansas Health Foundation for their generous matching gift.

Watch a recap of the book deliveries from our partners at Wichita Public Schools and learn more about the #Fight4Literacy program in our recent blog post.

Infographic of results of the 2022 Skin Cancer Screening Clinic, sponsored by United Way of the Plains.
Free clinic screens for skin cancer

United Way partnered with Wichita area dermatologists, the American Academy of Dermatology, KU School of Medicine-Wichita and the Medical Society of Sedgwick County to host a free skin cancer clinic on May 7. Screenings revealed cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions for many of the 269 residents who visited the clinic.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, with one in five Americans developing skin cancer by the age of 70.

KU School of Medicine – Wichita reports that during the past 20 years of the clinic, local dermatologists have screened more than 10,000 patients. Approximately 43 percent of these patients were diagnosed with a cancerous or pre-cancerous lesion.

United Way of the Plains logo.

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