The mission of United Way of Laramie County is to responsibly mobilize and leverage community resources to create long-term changes that produce healthy, educated and financially stable individuals and families in Laramie County.
To make a difference, we will:
- Ignite our community, and thereby mobilize people who live and work in Laramie County to action by giving, advocating, and volunteering
- Connect all sectors of society (individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and governments) to create long-term change
- Raise, invest and leverage the funds to create and support innovative programs and approaches to generate sustained impact in Laramie County
- Continually measure improvement in Laramie County in the areas of education, financial stability, and health
- Hold ourselves accountable to our community
To fulfill our mission, United Way of Laramie County will be moving towards a Collective Impact funding model for our next funding cycle that will take place in 2023. Collective Impact (CI) is defined “as the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem, using a structured form of collaboration.” During our current funding cycle agencies were informed of the direction United Way of Laramie County was moving for future funding consideration. As part of the funding process in 2019, United Way of Laramie County proposed to our program partners to take an innovative approach to their United Way Funding request. From this request, three programs collaborated; Comea Shelter, Family Promise, and Unaccompanied Student Initiative (USI) to bring forward the Common Ground for Homelessness Initiative, a collective impact approach to address homelessness in our community.
Below is taken from the collaborative’s requested funding proposal submitted to United Way of Laramie County.
Our collaborative application includes; Family Promise of Cheyenne (FPC), Unaccompanied Students Initiative (USI), and COMEA Inc. The overall purpose of the three agencies is to provide emergency and ongoing shelter and supportive services, to unaccompanied youth, children and their families, and single adults who are experiencing homelessness. We know firsthand the negative effects homelessness and poverty has on individuals, especially children. Research has shown children who are homeless or living in poverty are sick four times more often than other children are, 83% have been exposed to at least one serious violent event by the age of 12, and they have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems as their peers. The stress and trauma take its toll on children and can lead to emotional and behavioral problems, substance use, developmental delays, and disruption to their education.The collaborating agencies serve individuals in all stages of life. USI works with youth ages 16-20 who need stable housing while they focus on graduating high school and looking forward to their next stage in life. FPC is the sole family-only shelter in Laramie County, providing shelter and support to children and their families. COMEA is an emergency and transitional living shelter for adult men, women, and families. Homelessness continues to be an increasing problem in our own community. Youth homelessness has increased 141% in the past ten years in Wyoming, leaving agencies unable to meet the growing need. All three agencies regularly operate with a waiting list or must refuse access to those seeking shelter because they are at capacity. Last year, only 26% of the families seeking shelter with FPC received those services because the program did not have room for the remaining. USI has more than doubled their capacity in the past 6 months. Our programs provide lifesaving and life-changing services to members of our community. Our teams provide safe shelter to remove clients from the crisis of homelessness and work with them to develop a plan to work their way to self-sufficiency. Wyoming’s harsh weather conditions put those experiencing homelessness in extremely vulnerable situations, for the majority of the year. Many of the clients we serve seek shelter because they are living in their cars, in places not meant for human habitation, or in camps on the streets. By offering a safe place to lay their head and warm meals, we are providing them hope and courage to keep moving forward. Once safely sheltered, our teams work with the client to uncover and address the various barriers leading them to their current circumstances. By eliminating or overcoming these barriers, we are not just helping one client, but also positively affecting generations. FPC and the USI assist youth and increase their development as well as educational outcomes. Both agencies have witnessed youth progress in school and ultimately graduate, who were on paths in the opposite direction. Providing the educational resources and family support, we are helping break the generational cycle of poverty and ultimately creating a better future for those youth and their families to come. Intervention at an early age will significantly reduce the chances of these children becoming homeless themselves.All three agencies understand the need to increase the number of clients receiving shelter in order to meet the goal of 99% of those seeking shelter receive it. As the agencies continue to build programming and services for those in and out of the shelter, the number of individuals provided emergency shelter continue to remain at a number far lower than the need. In order to meet this goal, USI and FPC are developing additional shelter programing. USI will open their third location in the coming months, increasing their capacity to 15 youth instead of 8. FPC is adding Alternative Housing programs to include homeless prevention, diversion, and rapid rehousing. We understand that part of the battle is prevention and not just reaction. These additional programs will more than double the number of children and families served in our community. We understand this is the first step in achieving the long-term goals outlined by United Way of Laramie County.
A committee was formed, led by United Way of Laramie County, to work with the collaborative to create a common agenda and move the initiative forward. The following is the common agenda for the Common Ground for Homeless Initiative;
In Cheyenne, we provide housing and supportive services as quickly as possible to single adults, families with children, and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. We want everyone in our community to have a safe, suitable, stable place to live. We want our homeless housing and service solutions to be system-oriented rather than agency-oriented and to promote engagement rather than enablement. We use our collective expertise, resources and data to continuously advocate for people experiencing homelessness and to improve our housing and service systems so that they are safe, stable, efficient and focused on self-sufficiency.
Services Map for Prevention (reduce at-risk families and individuals)
Better Health (mental and physical)
Increased Job Skills (increased wages)
Higher Education (better jobs)
Improved Life Skills (understanding how to maintain the home, parenting and relationship, budgeting/financial management)
Increase Leadership, Collaboration, and Civic Engagement
Decrease in number of clients requiring emergency shelter
Increase in prevention/diversion services
Decreased time spent in the shelter
While we are in the infancy stages of the initiative, we are optimistic that real change is on the horizon. Interested in learning more about the Common Ground for Homelessness and other United Way of Laramie County initiatives? Click here;