Media Release: United Ways from Tennessee speaking with state leaders about pre-kindergarten and funding of critical social services today

United Way advocates for pre-k, honors advocacy leaders, celebrates resolution

(NASHVILLE, TN) United Ways of Tennessee (UWTN), the association of 39 United Ways in the state, gathers today for its annual Hill Day. The day includes a legislative breakfast at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, followed by a training session in the House Chamber. The program concludes with UWTN’s award ceremony and visits by United Way advocates to their legislators.

TN_State_CapitolUnited Way of the Mid-South (serving Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties in TN) is represented by President Bryce Haugsdahl, Senior Vice President of Community Engagement and Alignment Regina Walker, Vice President of Public Policy Fred Ashwill and Mark Sturgis, Director of Strive.

Pre-K program funding is a top issue for the day. “While we were grateful that Pre-K classrooms received full funding in the Governor’s budget, we need to stay vigilant in tough economic times,” said Lester Lattany, Board Chair of United Ways of Tennessee. “Every $1 spent on Pre-K saves taxpayers $7 by reducing the need for special education, welfare and criminal justice services, and we’re only serving a third of at-risk children now.”

Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam is providing remarks as last year’s UWTN Advocacy Leadership Award winner for her work in support of Raise Your Hand Tennessee, a statewide collaborative to recruit volunteers to tutor, read to and mentor children and youth. “She has graciously and tirelessly used her passion for education and the visibility of her office to spotlight Raise Your Hand Tennessee, a program that recruited 4,000 volunteers in its first year of operation with her help,” said Lattany.

The First Lady is presenting this year’s UWTN Advocacy Leadership Award to National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition’s (HMHB) text4baby program. “UWTN is partnering with HMHB to increase Tennesseans’ access to this free program,” said Mary Graham, President of United Ways of Tennessee. “With text4baby, we can provide pregnant women and new moms with information to help them care for their health and give their babies the best possible start in life.”

UWTN is also presenting its Raise Your Hand Tennessee Champion Award to Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “With his oversight of the state library system, he was a tremendous partner in facilitating our Raise Your Hand Tennessee Day of Action on June 21, 2012,” said Lattany. “His leadership enabled us to hold more than 60 events across the state where participants read to children or volunteered to read, tutor or mentor in the future.”

The First Lady, Representative Marsh and Senator Tracy are presenting United Ways of Tennessee with a resolution which passed the House and Senate unanimously to honor United Ways’ 125th year anniversary, including 90 years in our state. “We are extremely honored by the resolution,” said Graham. “United Way is proud of its history and accomplishments nationally and in Tennessee, and we are excited and confident for our future efforts to improve the lives of people in our state.”

(Note: Most of this release comes from text provided by the United Ways of Tennessee organization.)

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