Mr. White Goes to DC
Thomas A.H. White, Unum’s Senior Vice-President of Investor Relations at its Chattanooga offices, will testify at a Congressional staff briefing on October 19 at 12 noon. He will be one of about a half-dozen professionals from across the nation who will help introduce the Ready By 21 approach and principles to a targeted audience of Congressional staffers. Mr. White will illustrate for them the connection between local best practices – as in Chattanooga – and the broad federal policy principles that can help support and expand those local practices.
The congressional staffers Mr. White will be addressing assist their representatives in authorizing and appropriating funding for a wide array of federal education, workforce, and child/youth development programs, such as the Ready By 21 coalition work led by United Way of Greater Chattanooga in this area.
Mr. White will bring the staffers up to date on Unum’s model efforts to collaborate with public and private partners to ensure all available community resources are supporting children and youth in Chattanooga. As a business executive, he will also brief the audience on what Unum is doing to support the “education and workforce pipeline” in Chattanooga and in other cities where its campuses are located.
“We at Unum understand that for our business to continue thriving, we must have a capable, well-educated workforce,” White said. “That’s why we fully support the mission of ‘Ready by 21’ and will continue to partner with United Way, schools and organizations to help prepare students for tomorrow.”
United Way Worldwide (UWW) is the signature partner of Ready by 21. It has called on all local United Ways, like Chattanooga’s, to engage community stakeholders in creating data-driven strategies that improve outcomes for our children and youth. It is working with the Forum for Youth Investment to build and implement a complete set of tools, resources and technical assistance that supports children and youth from birth through young adulthood. UWW has worked with the Forum to create an expanded framework, to pilot the use of the Ready by 21 framework and tools in selected places (such as Chattanooga), and to provide learning opportunities for all interested local United Ways and community partners.
United Way of Greater Chattanooga spearheaded the movement to bring the Ready by 21 concept to Hamilton County and it is leading the process to make Chattanooga a community where business, education, government, nonprofit organizations, families and youth all work together as partners to ensure children and youth are ready for college, work and life by age 21. It raises and reinvests more than $11 million annually to improve outcomes for children, youth, families and the most vulnerable.
“Through our local work, Chattanooga will have a community where all children will have the opportunity to be successful in work and life,” said Linda McReynolds, Senior Vice-President of Community Impact. “United Way of Greater Chattanooga is pleased to have the opportunity to lead this work in our community.”
Through a competitive grant from UWW and the Forum for Youth Investment, United Way of Greater Chattanooga was selected as one of five pilot cities in the Southeast. As a pilot site, Chattanooga is receiving technical assistance and support to develop a “pipeline” framework that begins at birth and follows through to young adulthood. This framework is identifying community goals, strategies and outcomes. Stronger partnerships and commitments are being formed as community assets are determined and plans to address gaps will be put in place.
“Ready by 21 has challenged Chattanooga to galvanize the patchwork of committees, programs and initiatives into a comprehensive set of goals and strategies we implement together. Businesses understand the importance of managing diverse and complex systems to achieve an end goal. In Chattanooga, we’ve created the Partnership with United Way, we’ve set the goals and we’re identifying barriers that have to be addressed to get the pieces working together smoothly,” said Karen Pittman, Co-Founder, President and CEO of The Forum for Youth Investment. “Some of these barriers are made by us,” she added. “But, some, however, stem from our repeated efforts to respond to the requirements that come with federal and state funding that frankly gum up the wheels. This is why we’re delighted to be a part of a dialogue with federal policy makers about the alignment work we’re doing. We need federal government to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”
Mr. White represents the business community on United Way’s Ready By 21 committee. In this capacity he has played a major role in helping the community decide if the Ready By 21 challenge is right for this area and in presenting the concept to other business leaders. He has championed the “education and workforce pipeline” concept to the local business community, because this concept challenges business leaders to become engaged in the pipeline by improving children and youths’ odds for success in school, business and life in the Chattanooga area. Mr. White has also served as a United Way volunteer, as the chair of the Allocations Committee and on the Board of Directors, for the past 15 years.
“I believe the best decisions about education are made at the local level and am very pleased to see public-private partnerships that focus on the specific needs of a school district,” said Senator Bob Corker, whose office will be represented at Mr. White’s testimony at the Capital on Tuesday
Unum has been a reliable community supporter. The primary focus of its giving philosophy is to enhance educational opportunities for children. In 2009, Unum gave more than $6.6 million to non-profit organizations in the U.S. and U.K. In Chattanooga alone, its charitable budget is $1,137,000 and of that, $457,000 (40%) funds local education initiatives. It also sponsors a variety of educational programs throughout the U.S. that align well with the mission of “Ready by 21.” Unum’s efforts in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee, are a prime example of how the company supports educational opportunities for students of all ages. It supports more than 15 different education partnerships in Hamilton County, including a four-year partnership with the Hamilton County School system that began in 2008.
Business leaders, educators, parents, community advocates, government and nonprofit organizations must work together to create meaningful, successful, and long lasting partnerships to ensure that all youth are ready for college, work and life. Collaboration between business and education can ensure that students graduate high school equipped with the skills necessary to thrive in post-secondary education, the workplace, and life. To find out more about United Way’s work in education and the Ready by 21 challenge, call Linda McReynolds at 423-772-0304. You can also visit United Way online at www.LiveUnitedChattanooga.org.
United Way advances the common good by educating children to be ready for school, promoting economic stability so people can provide for themselves and their families, and by caring for the most vulnerable in our community. Thanks to an endowment fund that covers all overhead and administrative expenses, one hundred percent (100%) of contributions go directly to these services that help individuals and families in greater Chattanooga, including north Georgia and northeast Alabama.
The Forum for Youth Investment is a nonprofit, nonpartisan "action tank" dedicated to helping communities and the nation make sure all young people are “Ready by 21”: ready for college, work and life. Informed by rigorous research and practical experience, the Forum forges innovative ideas, strategies and partnerships – nationally and locally – to strengthen solutions for young people and those who care about them. The Ready by 21 Challenge is a call to national and community leaders to use bigger goals, bolder strategies, better data and broader partnerships to improve programs for children and young people. It's not a new task for leaders; instead, Ready by 21 gives leaders the tools and supports to make the most of what they're already doing – offering powerful solutions for passionate leaders.
Unum is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., with additional major offices in Portland, Maine; Worcester, Mass.; Columbia, S.C.; and various cities in the U.K. It provides financial protection benefits to millions of people in the U.S. and U.K. and it has three global subsidiaries: Unum US, Unum UK and Colonial Life. Together, these companies paid approximately $6 billion in total benefits to customers in 2009.