Phoenix, AZ (STN) – Last season on Community Collaborative, Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW) presented its first Mighty Change scorecard from their new Mighty Change 2026 initiative.
This year, VSUW CEO Carla Vargas Jasa and Chief Community Development and Engagement Officer Emma Garcia came back to the show to break down data from year two of their Mighty Change 2026 action plan.
VSUW created this community endeavor to address serious social inequities in healthcare, affordable housing, homelessness, education and workforce development in the Phoenix area after the pandemic.
“When we were here last year, we established our baseline for our MC2026 goals, and it was certainly no surprise that the numbers moved in the wrong direction due to the impacts of COVID. This year as we publish our second scorecard, the good news is we are seeing some progress, and in some areas, and in other areas, we still need to do some work,” said Vargas Jasa during the November episode.
Watch the full segment here:
According to their latest data, VSUW has seen improvement in the healthcare sector of their scorecard, specifically regarding food insecurity in our community. Year two of the MC2026 scorecard showed a significant reduction from 13% to 9% in the area.
Another big area of improvement in the report was the increase in higher-paying jobs and employers raising wages for their employees in the valley area. The new data also showed a 38 percent increase in youth ages 16-24 getting connected to more education and employment opportunities.
“We have to start preparing our young people today for the jobs of tomorrow. We have all heard that first graders today will have jobs that do not exist yet, but I think we have moved so quickly since then that it is kids in middle school who are going to have jobs that don’t exist,” said Community Collaborative producer and Black Chamber of Arizona President Robin Reed.
Unfortunately, one area of focus that got worse was the affordable housing and homelessness sector. Phoenix and the state of Arizona continue to have a huge affordable housing crisis which helps fuel the homelessness problem in our state. However, thanks to some of the collaborative efforts with various state partner organizations, there is hope for the problem.
“Even though the numbers are moving in the wrong direction, the momentum is moving in the right direction,” says Vargas Jasa.
Part of the momentum created by VSUW has been through various investments in the Phoenix area. Since VSUW started their Mighty Change 2026 initiative, they have invested $9.3 million back into the community, $80 million into supporting affordable, quality childcare which impacts nearly ten thousand kids across our community, and supported the distribution of $350 thousand worth of equipment and supplies to more than 100 community nonprofit and school partners.
Garcia says businesses succeed when our community succeeds, which is why they are making such large financial contributions in the four areas highlighted in their MC2026 strategy. Garcia comes to VSUW from Arizona Financial Credit Union where she saw firsthand the things businesses in our community need to thrive.
“I want us [VSUW] to be more strategic in how we can maximize our impact by being more targeted in our efforts, whether it is at a neighborhood level or potentially a population,” says Garcia.
Moving forward, Vargas Jasa says VSUW needs other organizations to join in on the various coalitions they have established to help them reach their goals. They also want to hear from the community about the things that are most important to them.
“I truly believe United Way belongs to the community, so if there are things that you think we should be doing, reach out and tell us because I always want to make sure we are responding to the community,” Vargas Jasa explained.
If you would like to access the latest Mighty Change 2026 data or get involved with VSUW, visit their website.