October 29, 2021
AUGUSTA—Impact2032, the community goal-setting process being led by United Way of Kennebec Valley (UWKV), has published its “Report to the Community” following months of public surveying and conversations across Kennebec County. The report garnered participation from nearly 800 local people who identified the most important issues facing the region to be job opportunities, high quality schools, access to affordable, healthy food, and health care services. Publication of the report is the next step in a strategic process that aims to establish county-wide, cross-sector goals by July 2022.
The data resulted from a UWKV-led community research and analysis project that was designed to identify the region’s strengths and most pressing needs in the areas of health, education and financial stability. In the spring, UWKV facilitated a regional survey and hosted five community conversations in both English and Arabic—garnering widespread participation from people of various ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences.
The report depicts a region that possesses valuable assets and well-informed community members, but areas for improvement still exist. Participants’ aspirations for a successful future shared the common themes of accessibility, affordability and quality of various community services such as health care, education, housing and transportation. The most common suggestions for achieving these aspirations included developing a top-notch public education system, increasing the quality and quantity of job opportunities, and expanding the region’s housing quality, stock and affordability.
The report is available on the Impact2032 website, impact2032.org.
“We know Kennebec County is a great place to live, work and play, but unfortunately the data shows that not everyone is doing well,” said Katie Doherty, co-chair of Impact2032’s Goal-Setting Council and president and CEO of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Many of our neighbors can’t afford their basic needs, kids are falling behind in school, and people are dying early from preventable causes. We’re bringing the community together so that we can change that narrative. In turn, these results will help contribute to a strong business community.”
Doherty is leading the council with Chuck Hays, president and CEO of MaineGeneral Health, and the pair announced the regional goal-setting process to the public in April. The council is comprised of 16 leaders from the business, nonprofit and government sectors and is supported by three expert panels focused on health, education and financial stability. Collectively, more than 70 community leaders are directly involved in establishing the goals.
The survey and community listening sessions were preceded and informed by the publication of white papers, commissioned by UWKV, in February 2021. These research papers identified community demographics, data trends and existing needs related to health, education and financial stability.
Impact2032’s expert panels are in the process of analyzing data from the white papers and final report to set three county-wide goals, accompanied by indicators and strategies.
“Our expert panels have spent months diving into the data in order to draft measurable goals that are reflective of Kennebec County statistics as well as feedback from the community,” said Hays, who is also co-leading the health expert panel with MaineGeneral’s chief strategy officer Alex Sydnor. “The panels will recommend draft goals to the council in December, and we’ll spend the spring revising those goals before launching them to the public next summer.”
Ultimately, Impact2032 aims to have hundreds of organizations and individuals endorse these strategies and actions in their own work to generate regional impact over the next 10 years. The entire Kennebec County community—including businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and individuals—will be invited to sign a statement of endorsement to support the community’s vision and goals by summer 2022. The next step will be to sign a separate statement of alignment, demonstrating an organization’s commitment to aligning its work with one or more goals. As organizations become more involved, they may consider collaborating with other community partners and/or reporting data to UWKV to demonstrate the impact their efforts have on the region.
“We don’t see Impact2032 as merely a program,” said Courtney Yeager, executive director of UWKV. “It’s designed to be a driving movement that unites all community members to accelerate change. By 2032, we intend for Kennebec County to achieve these 10-year goals through our collective efforts, and United Way will track the community’s progress publicly every step of the way.” For more information and to download the Report to the Community, visit impact2032.org.