The United Way of Amarillo & Canyon presents the 2016 Community Status Report—a resource for government, businesses, civic, social service, and faith-based organizations to inform and stimulate community discussions and investments in 2017. The research and data from the report helps guide the United Way’s community impact councils comprised of volunteers seeking the best investments to improve the most pressing issues facing our citizens in education, health, and financial stability.
There are areas where the community has seen improvement:
- Poverty rates are falling
- Number of uninsured adults has fallen
- Teenage birthrates continue to increment down
- High school dropout rate is shrinking and graduation rates are rising
Yet the notable negative trends for both counties include significant health issues like:
- High deaths from heart disease and diabetes
- High sexually transmitted infection rates including rising rates for HIV and syphilis
- Increased adult and child abuse
While United Way continues to support programs ensuring the most basic needs of food, shelter, and safety, we are increasingly investing in programs addressing the root causes of social problems to prevent acute needs from developing. Our message for youth is an example of United Way’s work to stop poverty where it begins. Research shows that 98% of all individuals will NOT live in poverty if they do three basic things:
- Finish high school
- Work fulltime
- Wait until marriage to have children
And yet, 54.5% of Potter County births are to single women, 26% of whom have only a high school diploma, and an amazing 26% more are high school dropouts. The Center for Public Policy Priorities’ Familybudgets.org website shows that in Amarillo a single mother of two must earn $20.47/hour to live above poverty. Single mothers who only finish high school, and especially those who don’t, have very little chance of securing a job at this necessary wage to single parent.
Fathers are incredibly important in families—not only for the increased family financial security, but also the psycho-social gains fathers bring to families (see pages 21-24).
Knowing the facts, the most urgent problems in our community clearly come into focus. Working together to solve them and prevent them, this is how we LIVE UNITED for the success of both our most vulnerable population, and also the entire Amarillo and Canyon community.