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School and Program Updates

North Texas: Researchers Help United Way Outline Future Community Direction

A team of researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health (UNTHSC) has completed a comprehensive community assessment for United Way of Tarrant County, Texas, that will help set the organization’s strategic direction for years to come.

Led by Dr. Emily Spence-Almaguer, associate dean for community engagement and health equity at the UNTHSC School of Public Health, along with Dr. Karen Bell, UNTHSC assistant professor of health behavior and health systems, and project director Ms. Danielle Rohr, the assessment incorporated months of in-depth, one-on-one interviews and focus groups with local leaders, civic representatives and citizens, to not just address areas of need but analyze and determine the root causes for solving them.

At two million people and growing, Tarrant County is the third most populous county in Texas and the 16th largest in the United States. Yet, 23 percent of area families earn less than $35,000, making housing unaffordable for many.

Overall, the top identified issues for residents were found to be housing and homelessness; physical/mental health and wellness; transportation; education, childcare, early childhood and youth services; basic needs, emergency assistance and financial stability.

“While many of these issues are not new,” said Ms. Leah M. King, United Way executive vice president and chief operating officer, “the community assessment highlights how they are interconnected and how they compound challenges for residents and their quality of life. The results of this UNTHSC study have helped provide guidance on how United Way can partner, lead, listen and work in providing future leadership and harnessing resources to solve the county’s toughest social challenges.”

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