OUR CHANCE TO WORK TOGETHER IN STRENGTHENING COMMUNITIES
Crime Prevention & Intervention
Crime inflicts devastating effects on individuals, their friends, families, and the neighborhoods of Kansas City, leaving a lasting impact. Crime has the potential to touch anyone’s life, whether as a victim, witness, or through hearing about acts that have occurred. However, certain groups and geographic areas are more susceptible to crime than others, highlighting the presence of disparities. For instance, the homicide rate among Black adolescents and youth consistently surpasses that of their white counterparts (Sheats et al. 2018). Low-income neighborhoods bear a greater burden of crime compared to their high-income counterparts (Kang 2016).
Apart from the immediate consequences on individuals and communities, exposure to and experience with crime have significant short- and long-term effects on mental and physical health. This includes conditions such as depression, suicidal ideation, hypertension, cancer, and stroke (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2022). While crime rates across the nation have decreased since the peak experienced in the 1990s, cities and their neighborhoods still grapple with significant violence and crime. In 2022, Kansas City, Missouri reported 168 homicides (Lanham 2023), while the Kansas City metro area recorded 264 homicides (Cronkleton 2023), both figures falling just short of the records set in 2020. Analyzing crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kansas City, Missouri ranks among the top 15 most dangerous cities in America (Gordon 2023).
As Kansas City continues to confront the challenges of crime and strives for equitable community development, United Way remains deeply committed to supporting nonprofit organizations that focus on prevention, intervention, and response to crime throughout the metro area. With the support of United Way, Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, the Center for Conflict Resolution, KC Common Good, and Lyrik’s Institution play vital roles in our community by working towards crime prevention, intervention, and response, ensuring a safer and more harmonious environment for all.
Healthy Neighborhoods / Built Environment
Our neighborhoods play a defining role in shaping our opportunities. The quality of our health, safety, education, and economic mobility is intrinsically linked to the neighborhoods in which we grow up and reside. Living in neighborhoods characterized by high crime rates, pervasive poverty, and significant deterioration can profoundly impact a person’s employment prospects, educational attainment, and overall well-being (Urban Institute 2015). The social and economic aspects of neighborhoods have been extensively associated with various health indicators, including mortality rates, overall health status, disabilities, birth outcomes, chronic conditions, health behaviors, mental health, injuries, and violence (Cubbin et al. 2008).
The lives of children, for better or worse, are deeply influenced by the neighborhoods they grow up in. Research has demonstrated that relocating to neighborhoods with greater opportunities, characterized by lower levels of unemployment and crime, and higher income levels, has a substantial impact on a child’s future earnings as an adult, as well as other outcomes such as college attendance (Chetty and Hendren 2015). It is impossible to overlook the impact of spatial segregation based on race and ethnicity when examining the disparities observed in health and economic outcomes (Morenoff and Lynch 2004). In Kansas City, the history of racial discrimination in housing continues to impact our community as Black residents have one-third the housing wealth of white households and lower rates of homeownership (Mid-America Regional Council 2023b). Given that neighborhoods profoundly shape the present and future of individuals in our community, United Way is dedicated to investing in agencies that focus on creating housing options, safe spaces, and accessible opportunities in neighborhoods throughout Kansas City.
While fostering healthy neighborhoods requires collective effort, United Way collaborates with Community Housing of Wyandotte County, Urban Neighborhood Initiative, and United Community Services of Johnson County to facilitate meaningful dialogue and drive transformative change aimed at establishing safe, affordable, and equitable places for everyone to call home. By prioritizing these investments, United Way aims to cultivate thriving neighborhoods that empower individuals and foster a sense of belonging for all members of our community.
For over 100 years, the United Way has played a unique role in the philanthropic community by bringing people and resources together to tackle the most pressing and persistent challenges facing our community today and tomorrow. We support children and families throughout the Greater Kansas City metro with real-time needs and work collaboratively on long-term solutions to remove barriers to social and economic mobility so that all people in our community can thrive. This needs index works to triangulate multiple sources of information on our community including the voices United Way hears everyday via our 211-contact center, local level data on pressing social issues, and national level data for trends that show up in every part of our country. The analysis of the Kansas City landscape remains part of our ongoing work to keep a pulse on community needs and align philanthropic resources with high-performing agencies and programs.
United Way has worked to amplify the voice and visibility of our nonprofit partners who provide an indispensable role in our community in meeting the needs outlined in this needs index. Recently, we launched innovative programming designed to fill gaps that exist in our community based on the needs we surfaced and by listening to community voices. By working with leaders from communities of color and centering their voices, United Way secured funding from the Kauffman Foundation to launch the Catalyst Fund, providing strategic grants tailored to the unique needs of organizations and priorities established by their leaders for organizations serving BIPOC communities. The first wave of catalyst grant funding provided 22 agencies with $546,800 in funding to support agencies working across multiple issue areas contained within our analysis of the Kansas City landscape.
As our community continues to evolve, United Way will be there to identify our metro’s most pressing needs, rally support, engage with communities we serve, and invest in highly effective programs so that everyone in Kansas City can thrive. The needs index will be continuing work by United Way to bring key issues to the forefront of our community and galvanize work between people, companies, and governments to create lasting solutions that enhance the quality of life for all residents of Kansas City. But now it is your chance to act! Below are QR codes you can use to find out more about how to give, advocate, and volunteer with United Way. Our metro has serious challenges, but they are solvable problems with WaymakersTM like you choosing to give your time, talent, and resources to support the hundreds of ways we can make a difference with United Way.
Thank you to research and community partners for supplying information and support critical to this community needs index including: US Dept of Health and Human Services, Urban Institute, AdHoc Group Against Crime, Center for Conflict Resolution, KC Common Good, Lyrik’s Institution, Mid America Regional Council.