Improving Individual Lives Through Increased Access to Employment

What does it take to change a life?

For those in our community facing financial insecurity, securing suitable employment that will provide for themselves or their families can be challenging at times. And with such a low unemployment rate and between 800-1000 jobs open on any one day in Columbus, the reason for these individuals’ struggles finding employment may surprise you.

A United Way Board member and HR Manager recently identified barriers or challenges for employment for many at-risk individuals on the cusp of financial failure. Some common challenges are:

  • Language barriers for Spanish-speaking-only workers seeking employment at companies that require you to communicate in English,

  • And access to transportation. When facing financial insecurity, a reliable family car is not always available, putting the employee at risk of regularly being late or absent from work.

Improving employability is a proactive solution for keeping at-risk individuals out of poverty. As such, United Way works closely with agency partners, direct programs, and local and statewide coalitions to find solutions to these most common challenges.

This is first evident in the services provided by the newest United Way partner agency: Centro Hispano. Centro Hispano provides legal, advocacy and educational services for many members of our community. United Way funds will be used to help support their GED program which will provide GED prep classes in Spanish to help this population improve their employability.  Once they have their GED, they’re encouraged to continue to improve their English language skills

Similarly, Platte Valley Literacy Association also provides a GED program in English for those who’ve not received their high school diploma. They also provide an English-language skills class to help assist those needing improved language skills in order to advance in their careers.

Finally, United Way continues to support Columbus Area Transit, which provides public bus transportation within the city limits of Columbus at an affordable fee of $2 a ride. The majority of the riders have no other means of transportation and are extremely appreciative for this service. Last year, the Transit program provided 2,951 rides for employment.

Beyond the individual benefits to those being served by these programs, the efforts of these United Way partners will also benefit our overall local economy says Drive for Five Director Kara Asmus.

By continuing to provide financial support for these programs, United Way will help improve our community for generations to come. But we can’t do it without Y-O-U.

Please consider giving a year-end or monthly gift to the Columbus Area United Way 2018-2019 Annual Campaign to help continue programs like these. To set up your donation, visit or call the office at 564-5661.