The University of Notre Dame exceeded its goal of raising $300,000 for United Way of St. Joseph County during its 2014-2015 workplace campaign. In 2014, United Way turned 100. To celebrate its many years of community service, the nonprofit organization challenged its partners to tackle St. Joseph County’s high poverty rate and to improve the education, health, and financial status of its community members. Notre Dame’s yearlong campaign raised $311,355.41 for United Way, making it the largest single campaign contribution in the county.
“The University of Notre Dame community is a very important contributor to the overall success of our campaign” said Matt Harrington, President & CEO of the United Way of St. Joseph County. “We very much appreciate all of the individuals participating in the campaign and their willingness to invest their personal resources for the betterment of their fellow community members.”
Several groups on campus worked to creatively raise funds. In September, Notre Dame held a campus-wide food drive. “Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger” raised $16,210 for People Gotta Eat, a partnership of food pantries started by United Way in 2008. The Morris Inn ran a “12 Days of Christmas” fundraiser from December 19-30. The University inn allowed guests to determine the rate of their bill at checkout, and donated ten percent of the proceeds to United Way.
Notre Dame partners with United Way in more than solely financial terms. Members of the Notre Dame community contribute on United Way’s board and volunteer on committees that work to lower St. Joseph County’s poverty rate and to improve its residents’ quality of life.
St. Joseph County’s poverty rate hovers around 20%, a rate that surpasses both Indiana’s and the U.S. poverty rates. South Bend’s poverty rate is even higher than that of the surrounding county at around 26.3%. Over 16,000 children under the age of 18 in St. Joseph County live in poverty.
United Way focuses on improving education, ensuring financial stability, and providing for basic health needs through its partnerships with 23 local organizations. 98.5% of each dollar donated to United Way stays within St. Joseph County and helps fund community initiatives such as increasing the graduation rate, providing therapy for children who have suffered from abuse, providing job training and skills for adults, and subsidizing necessary prescription costs.