United Way of Pennsylvania          LIVE UNITED
UWP Update - March 30 , 2018
UWP joined Congressman Thompson, Secretary Redding, and community organizations and businesses to have a round table about the Farm Bill and SNAP.
US Rep. Thompson discusses Farm Bill at roundtable in Harrisburg

On Tuesday, the United Way of Pennsylvania joined Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson, Secretary Redding, farm and food industry producers and representatives, legislators and other constituents in a roundtable discussion about the Farm Bill at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Congressman Thompson serves as the chair of the congressional subcommittee on nutrition. These two leaders offered their insight into how the Farm Bill may look in its reauthorization. The roundtable focused on the importance of a strong 2018 Farm Bill for the agriculture industry and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 
Congressman Thompson stressed the importance of the focus on nutrition in the Farm Bill and how crucial that is to SNAP and the promotion of healthy foods. He also highlighted some program integrity measures which have been too restrictive in the past, such as what he calls "poverty cliffs" which are created by current asset testing rules. The proposal he discussed would increase asset limits for SNAP eligibility. He stated that there is no intention in his subcommittee to cut funding for SNAP, but also cautioned that it is still early in the process and the plan needs to be vetted by other House members which could result in changes. 
Workforce development also came up in the conversation. Congressman Thompson stated that somewhere in the ballpark of $1 billion would be invested in career and technical training for workforce programs in SNAP. This would come alongside mandated case management, subsidized employment, and added stress on literacy and financial literacy in conjunction with transitional SNAP benefits (of 3 months) to move people from poverty to a financially stable life.
As you know, the Farm Bill is legislated and enacted approximately every 5 years. The Farm Bill is important to everyone in America, but it has outsized importance in Pennsylvania given the prominence of agriculture and food industries in our state and local economies. Currently $2.7 billion of SNAP is spent in Pennsylvania in grocery stores and farmers markets with over $4 billion in economic impact, yet 1.7 million Pennsylvanians are still at risk of hunger even today. 

Thompson sees efforts to separate nutrition from other elements of the Farm Bill as dead on arrival. He also stated that there are a number of members who would like the Farm Bill to be reauthorized early, particularly due to the crisis the dairy industry is currently facing. 

UWP joins the United Way ALICE project - attend an information session to learn more 
Many of UWP's members have heard of the United Way ALICE Project. ALICE stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. It is a data-driven effort to quantify and describe the number of employed households that are struggling to meet their basic needs. 

UWP's Board of Directors took action in support of entering an agreement with the ALICE project to produce a PA report. This report can be used to start a conversation in our communities with businesses, government officials, community organizations, the media, and donors. The information can increase awareness and understanding about the scope of the challenge facing working families who are not living under the federal definition of poverty but cannot meet their basic costs of living. The report can also be used to bring the community together to support ALICE with solutions that move her along the path to financial stability. 

United Ways who join UWP in this endeavor will have access to local data and a learning community supported by UWP. They can use this to build action and improve financial stability in their communities. 

UWP understands our members will have questions and want to learn more about the ALICE Project. We're announcing four planned regional meetings for staff from all organizations who are eligible to be members of UWP. These are the scheduled upcoming meetings:
  • May 1st, 2018 11:00AM - 2:00PM 
    United Way of Lancaster County
    Lancaster, PA 
  • May 17th, 2018 10:00AM - 1:00PM
    Patton Township Building
    State College, PA
  • May 23rd, 2018 10:00AM - 1:00PM
    United Way of Wyoming Valley
    Wilkes-Barre, PA
  • Date, Time, and Specific Location TBD
    Butler County
We're asking attendees to register so we have a specific count for materials and lunch. You can register by going to the UWP Calendar on our website. 

Questions about the ALICE Project can be directed to Kristen Rotz at krotz@uwp.org. Registration questions can be directed to Brandie Trostle at brandie@uwp.org
Update on Emergency Food and Shelter Program - Phase 35
Phase 35 allocations were announced by the federal EFSP board on March 29. Pennsylvania is capturing a larger share of these funds this year, which is indicative of a state economy that is lagging behind other states in the formula factors measured to distribute EFSP dollars, including unemployment. The national unemployment rate is 4.1% while Pennsylvania's is currently 4.8%. 

Just shy of $5 million has been allocated to Pennsylvania in total, which is a little more than a half million dollar increase from Phase 34.  The state set-aside committee is receiving about $543,000 to allocate to local jurisdictions, which is a decrease of $55,000. 

Although the state set-aside committee is receiving fewer dollars, there are eleven more counties who will receive direct federal funding this year. Those counties are Armstrong, Clearfield, Clinton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, McKean, Somerset, Tioga and Venango. A total of 32 jurisdictions will be funded directly by the federal board. 

The full list of allocations is available hereOnce the National Board staff has finished updating materials, including the Phase 35 Responsibilities and Requirements Manual to account for new grant requirements and new program policies and procedures, the official award announcement will be sent by email to all qualifying jurisdictions and SSAs. 
Federal Budget and United Way priorities
The following is an excerpt from an update authored by UWW staff which focuses on member areas of interest: 

As you are probably aware, Congress passed and the President just signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill to fund government operations for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, which ends September 30, 2018. Because of your continued advocacy, we not only protected existing funding for the programs on our policy agenda, but helped to secure significant increases for many of them. Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education programs (where most of our key programs are housed) received a $16 billion increase over 2017 funding levels. THANK YOU for all your advocacy efforts over the last few months!
Below are some highlights, but please don't hesitate to reach out to the UWW Policy Team for additional information.
HEALTH: For additional information, contact Dave Wallace
  • Opioid Crisis: $3.2 billion increase for programs to respond to the opioid crisis, including prevention, treatment, behavioral health workforce training, and support for children and families. 
EDUCATION: For additional information, contact Soncia Coleman
  • Early Care and Education:
    • A $2.4 billion increase to Child Development Block Grant (for a total of $5.2 Billion)
    • A seven percent increase of $610 million to Head StartK-12 Wraparound Supports:
    • A $20 million increase for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (afterschool programs)
FINANCIAL STABILITY: For additional information, contact Caitlin Carey
  • Housing Programs:$2.5 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, a $117 million increase
  • Emergency Food & Shelter Program is flat funded at $120 million.
  • Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program: flat funded at $15 million. 
COMMUNITY STRENGTHENING: For additional information, contact Soncia Coleman
  • Corporation for National and Community Service: $1.06 billion, an increase of nearly $34 million. The bill sustains funding for Senior Corps and AmeriCorps*VISTA, includes an increase of $26 million for AmeriCorps State and National, and increases funding for state commissions, AmeriCorps*NCCC, the Volunteer Generation Fund and Days of Service.

Advocacy tools: Pre-K fact sheets show updated unmet need in counties and legislative districts

The Pre-K for PA campaign has created and released fact sheets for each county in Pennsylvania. That information can be accessed here. You can now access information such as the percentage of eligible children who do not have access to high-quality pre-k, the number of eligible children in the county, the number of pre-k participating locations and eligible locations, how many more classrooms are needed, and more for your specific county. This information is handy to know, especially when approaching legislators with the needs of your and their communities.
Fact sheets have also been compiled for each legislator on what pre-k looks like in their districts. Use this link to see how high-quality, publicly funded pre-k works in Pennsylvania. The information can be broken down by Senate district, House district, and school district. 

Early Registration for UWP 2018 Statewide Conference ends in one month! 
If you haven't registered yet for the conference, there's still time to enjoy the early bird rate of $300 for the whole conference!

Early registration ends on April 30th. In May, the price will go up to $350 for the whole conference.  

United Ways can choose to use flex credits to be reimbursed by UWW for attending the UWP conference. 

Online registration is open until May 31st! If you have any questions or issues, please contact Amanda Barbarich or Brandie Trostle. You can also call the UWP office at (717) 238-7365 x206.  

No matter which price you pay, we're looking forward to seeing you in Erie in June! Check out our conference website to get the most recent updates! 
Housing Alliance hosting webinar on CMS New Medicare Card Campaign

The Housing Alliance is inviting community members to join their free webinar on the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) New Medicare Card Campaign. 

As we previously notified you in the UWP Update, CMS is gearing up to launch a year-long process of sending Medicare beneficiaries a new Medicare card starting in April 2018. The new card will assign a unique Medicare  Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to the beneficiary, removing the person's social security number from the new Medicare card. 

CMS's new campaign and resources designed to promote awareness of this process to beneficiaries, families, caregivers, and advocates will be featured during the webinar. The campaign will educate about potential scams and tips identifying and addressing potential issues. 

You can register for the free webinar at the Housing Alliance events page. The webinar is Friday, April 6, 2018 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. 

In addition, you can check out the new materials at the Partners and Employers page. Beneficiaries who have questions about the new card can be directed to the Medicare.gov homepage or to the new short URL: go.medicare.gov/newcard

United Way leaders invited to the Early Learning Investment Commission's Economic Summit
The Economic Summit is an opportunity to learn, network and collaborate on early learning policy. Participants include business and community leaders who support early learning. 

The ELIC summit is coming up on May 7, 2018, and will be held at the Harrisburg Hilton from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There is a modest registration fee. Click here for more information and to register. 
PA's unemployment rate continues to lag behind the recovery of the rest of the country
Pennsylvania's unemployment rate held steady in February at 4.8%, but this is above the national average of 4.1%. Pennsylvania also currently has the fifth highest unemployment, surpassed only by Nevada, West Virginia, New Mexico and Alaska. 

According to an analysis by Capitolwire reporter Chris Comisac published this week, since the start of the Great Recession, this is the longest period the state's unemployment rate has been higher than the national rate. 

The state's employers reported adding 10,400 jobs from January to February. The majority of growth was in education and healthcare, construction, financial and manufacturing. The largest job losses came from government and professional/business services.