Impact Poverty

Impact PovertyThe goal of Impact Poverty was to develop a 10-Year Plan to reduce poverty in Paducah/McCracken County and hopefully break the cycle of generational poverty for its citizens. A group of 37 volunteers representing industry, health care, education, law enforcement, religious organizations, housing, and the community at large spent many hours together from June 2010 through June 2011 working on this task. The Final version of the 10 Year Plan for Impact Poverty is now complete.  Click here to view the plan.

Impact Poverty Update

United Way has been hard at work since rolling out the Impact Poverty Plan in January of 2012. 


Critical Care and Community Wellness

This committee’s long-term goal was to establish a Community Health Center that provides accessible primary and preventative health services regardless of ability to pay.  –GOAL ACCOMPLISHED
We are excited that the Impact Poverty Taskforce helped lay the foundation for seeing this long-term goal become a reality in much less time than had originally been expected.  A partnership has been formed between St. Nicholas Clinic and KYCARES, a not-for-profit that specializes in Community Health Centers.  KYCARES is now open and responding to the ever growing and changing health needs in our community.

While it was a pleasant surprise for this goal to be met so quickly, we did not want to stop there. The United Way is now an active coalition member for the Purchase District Connections for Health. This coalition was formed in the summer of 2014 to bring together entities that are positively impacting Health throughout the Purchase District. Bringing together Health organizations will allow our community to combine resources and increase efficiency in services that are currently offered. The Purchase District Connections for Health is currently working on a strategic plan as well as a Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky grant application, among other grants. Stay tuned for more work to be accomplished by The Purchase District Connections for Health.

Kids and Education

This committee’s long-term goal is to see an increase of children in poverty pursuing higher education following high school graduation.  –IN PROGRESS

In order to achieve this long-term goal there are short-term goals that must be reached. The primary short-term goal was to develop a coalition to help encourage a culture of mentoring and to take a comprehensive look at the recreation and after-school programming available. Once identified, the goal is to identify unmet needs and under-utilized space that can be used to offer quality programing for our community’s youth. Since the Impact Poverty plan was rolled out, the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club has expanded to a second location allowing them to serve more children and youth throughout our community. Additionally, McNabb Elementary School has established a 21st Century After-School Program that serves more than 120 students daily. A United Way Representative currently serves on their Advisory Council

The United Way established our Reading PALS program in the fall of 2010 with 24 volunteers at McNabb Elementary School. We currently have more than 130 volunteers at all four of the City of Paducah Elementary Schools and at Farley Elementary and Lone Oak Elementary in the County.  We also have a plan in place for Reidland Elementary, Lone Oak Intermediate and Paducah Day Nursery if volunteers are interested in  mentoring at one of those locations.

By the fall of 2013, there were 150 mentoring relationships in place throughout our community. While it will be many years before we see the long-term results of these mentoring relationships, early results are showing increases in reading proficiency and improvement in behavior. These relationships are being cultivated with the goal of positively impacting the future of individual lives.

While not initially included in our action plan, we have also begun to have a focus on Early Childhood Education. It is vital that children are prepared for kindergarten when they enter school. When children are not prepared for kindergarten it is like starting a race behind, you may never catch up. Parents and caregivers must be equipped with the knowledge needed to prepare children for kindergarten as well. One way we are providing support for these efforts is by being the fiscal agent for the McCracken County Early Childhood Council. The goal of the McCracken County Early Childhood Council is to build innovative, collaborative partnerships that promote school readiness for children and families. We are privileged to be able to play a role in this Council.

If you are interested in serving as a Reading PALS volunteer, please click here.

If you are interested in learning about other mentoring opportunities in our community, please or contact the United Way office: 442-1691.


This committee started off strong with a goal of implementing a program called Reclaiming Futures in the community.  Reclaiming Futures was focused on improving the quality of substance abuse treatment for youth in our community.  The committee applied for a grant to help start the program, but we did not receive the funding.  With that setback, the committee took a break and reconvened in 2013 to take a fresh look at the direction we wanted to go.

The substance abuse group decided that developing a comprehensive community wide plan for combating substance abuse should be our focus. -IN PROGRESS
The committee decided to create a local KY-ASAP board to help achieve this goal.  The Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (KY-ASAP) was created in 2000 to develop a strategic plan to reduce the prevalence of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among youth and adult populations in Kentucky and coordinate efforts among state and local agencies in the area of substance abuse prevention.
KY-ASAP boards are unique coalitions because local boards determine their own needs for their service area.  Through a strategic plan and needs assessment, the local boards identify the issues that they need to direct their dollars toward concerning tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs as related to abuse.

This coalition consists of law enforcement, doctors, school resource center staff, mental health professionals, city and county leadership and community members.  The McCracken County KY-ASAP has recently been established and has received $20,000 to implement Substance Abuse prevention initiatives. We are excited about creating a unified plan to help reduce the devastating impact of substance abuse in our community. We welcome you to join this committee if you are interested in working on this issue by emailing or calling our office at 270-442-1691.


There are multiple great organizations working on the issue of economic development in Paducah and McCracken County.  This committee’s focus was not on job creation, but ensuring that those in poverty have developed the job-readiness skills to secure the jobs that are created in our community. 

After much research, the Jobs Committee looked at an exciting job-readiness model founded in Cincinnati, OH., called Cincinnati Works.  In 2012, we brought the Cincinnati Works founder, Dave Phillips to Paducah to meet with business and community leaders.  Mr. Phillips spoke at the Chamber Breakfast during this visit and laid out the basic steps to implement the Cincinnati Works model in our community.  The number one factor for the success of these models throughout the country has been identifying a “Zealot” or leader for this initiative. –IN PROGRESS

John Williams Sr., founder of Computer Services Inc., and Michael Byers, Vice President of Crounse Corporation, are strong community leaders that recently revisited the Cincinnati Works model. The United Way is collaborating with Mr. Williams and Mr. Byers to do more in depth research in our community to assess the need and feasibility of implementing a Cincinnati Works type program in Paducah. A specific timeline for establishing this program has yet to be determined, but will hopefully be revealed in the coming months.


One of the things that became clear during the study of poverty in our community was the fact that many of the social service organizations working with those in poverty are not successful in helping clients out of poverty.  While the Task Force was aware that there were limits to what we could change, we did feel there were some basic things that could be implemented to reduce some of the problems within the social service agencies in our community.

One of the short-term goals was to work to ensure that as many churches and charities as possible are utilizing Charity Tracker.  As of today, 14 agencies and churches are utilizing this software which cuts down on “double-dipping” but also allows organizations to share what resources they have or what resources are needed. – IN PROGRESS

Another important issue brought to light through Impact Poverty was how difficult it often was for the agencies to learn what other agencies were doing.  Creating an easier way to communicate needs and address issues had to be created.  It is always wonderful when community businesses step up to answer the need even before they were asked.  Independence Bank began a Community Coalition meeting in 2012 that is successfully bringing together non-profit agencies on a quarterly basis to share ideas, share resources and communicate about needs! -GOAL ACCOMPLISHED

Finally, in an attempt to continue to increase communication among agencies and to help get the word out to the community about the needs and volunteer opportunities, the United Way launched:  Please visit the site to see the hundreds of volunteer opportunities, use the site as a resource directory, and find out about non-profit events going on.  –GOAL ACCOMPLISHED


The goal of this committee is to continue to help educate the community on the issue of poverty and the erroneous perceptions that are often connected to it. Since the Impact Poverty plan was rolled out in 2012, we have offered the Bridges Out of Poverty half-day course and recently added an full-day course on an almost monthly basis to community members at a minimal cost.  We plan to continue this effort as long as there is demand for this training.

Please see our EVENTS tab for details on the next training. -IN PROGRESS

In addition, since 2012 we have offered Getting Ahead courses for individuals wanting to move from poverty to self-sufficiency.  These are 15-week programs and require trained facilitators and a serious commitment from the participants.  Since 2012, we have funded three of the Getting Ahead programs.  Today, we are working closely with churches and other organizations to have them coordinate and facilitate the Getting Ahead courses.  If you are interested, please contact our United Way office: 270-442-1691.