United We Learn

United We Learn was an opportunity to learn more about United Way and our work in the community. These virtual learning sessions were offered and hosted by United Way of Central Illinois. Each session was only fifteen minutes and you can find all the recorded sessions below!

Topics varied from our community impact, diving into specific United Way programs, the importance of volunteering, to updates on where Springfield stands on specific issues, debunking United Way misconceptions to how we are assessing community needs.

Upcoming Sessions


Beginning on June 25, our first Living United in Central Illinois PODCAST will go live for your listening pleasure. United Way of Central Illinois, is continuing all the things we love about United We Learn but converting it to a podcast format, available in both an audio and video format.

Previous UNITED WE LEARN Sessions

The COVID-19 Pandemic: United Way’s Response

Recorded on Friday June 26, 2020

United Way’s primary concern is the safety and health of our community. During this session, we will be discussing the COVID-19 pandemic and how United Way of Central Illinois responded and continues to respond. We will touch on how United Way of Central Illinois partnered with The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln to create the COVID-19 Response Fund to deploy resources to community-based organizations at the front lines of a coronavirus spread in Illinois’ greater capital region. In addition to the COVID-19 Response Fund we will discuss how we adapted our partnerships with our programs, helped connect the community to services and offered opportunities for people wanting to help. We will also tap in to how we are moving from response to recovery and how our community can continue to help.

United Way 101: 98 Years of Helping

Recorded on Friday July 10, 2020

Founded in 1922, United Way of Central Illinois was founded by the Chamber of Commerce and business community to create an organized means to help those in need.  Ninety-Eight years later, we are still adding value to donor investments and helping to build Sangamon and Menard Counties into a vibrant region where individuals and families thrive. Tune in to learn more about our history and how we have continuously strived for excellence to make the greatest impact.

Making Strategic Investments: How United Way Balances Community Voices, Data and Best Practices

Recorded on Friday July 24, 2020

Opinions, and Data, and Research, Oh My! Join us to learn more about what it takes to create Community Impact, and how the United Way of Central Illinois is striving for greatness and the greatest return on donor investments in the areas of Basic Needs, Education, Financial Stability, and Health.

Results That Matter: 2020 Community Impact Report

Recorded on Friday August 7, 2020

Watch to learn about the results United Way investments are making in our community. While so much good has been accomplished, there is always room for improvement. The number of lives who have been impacted are endless. 

Supporting Local Programs During COVID-19: What you can do to help

Recorded on August 21, 2020

In times of past crisis, we’ve always risen to the challenge as a community. We are again facing such a crisis and while we worry about our own futures, we must not forget the people in our community who are already struggling with the financial effects of COVID-19. Tune in as we discuss how you can help support our local nonprofits continue to provide vital relief services and stay open. Even in these uncertain times, no one is powerless to make a difference.

Hopeful Futures Start with the Basics: How we fight for a safety net of food and shelter

Recorded on September 4, 2020

When basic needs are met, there’s hope for a brighter future—and a stronger community. We support emergency services vital to the basic needs (food and shelter) of the most vulnerable members of our community. Tune in to hear how we are working with leaders and organizations in our community to provide a safety net of food and shelter.

The Importance of Volunteerism: How you can raise your hand to help

Recorded on September 18, 2020

We love our volunteers! They selflessly give their time, talent and heart to make changes big and small in our community. If you are one of our 2,700+ volunteers – thank you!  Whether you have been volunteering with us for many years or are taking the first step in giving back to the community, we have lots of opportunities for you to get involved. Listen to hear about a few ways you can raise your hand!

The Impact of Summer Education Programs: 4 Program Leaders Share Their Perspective

Recorded on October 2, 2020

Summer may be over, but the impact of our Summer Education Programs is not. Join us for this United We Learn to hear from a panel of our Summer Program providers about what they experienced this Summer and some amazing success stories!


  • Molly Berendt with Camp Compass
  • Lacey Harrison with Camp Kindergarten
  • Ashley Moore with Freedom School
  • Emily Bergschneider with Project Learn.

ReUnited: Retired from work, but not from creating change

Recorded on October 16, 2020

You can retire from a career, but you can’t retire from caring!  Join us for this session as we introduce ReUnited. ReUnited members are individuals who see and understand the important role volunteerism and philanthropy play in building a stronger community. No matter where the next chapter takes you, we can connect you with opportunities to leave a lasting legacy of caring and generosity.

Supporting Early Childhood Literacy: How you can help foster a love of reading

Recorded on October 30, 2020

Reading opens new worlds. With a book, kids can imagine new places, think about new ideas and see themselves as anything they want to be. Reading is also the foundation for all learning. Tune in to hear about how you can help foster a love of reading by supporting programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and through our peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Meet ALICE: A new way of defining the struggles of working households

Recorded on November 13, 2020

ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, are households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget. Tune in to learn more about ALICE families and how the future success of our community is directly tied to the financial stability of these fragile ALICE households.

United Way Resources: Programs that provide financial relief for families and individuals

Recorded on December 4, 2020

In recent years, United Way of Central Illinois has introduced a variety of services to assist members of our community. Tune in for fifteen minutes to learn more about programs like Familywize- a free prescription drug card, MyFreeTaxes.com- an online platform that provides free state and federal tax preparation, and 211- a free confidential referral and information helpline. These United Way administered programs provide financial relief to individuals and families in our community.

Healthy Communities Thrive: How we fight for every person in our community to be healthy and stay healthy

Recorded on December 18, 2020

Our neighbors face health challenges every day that impact their daily lives, education and economic stability. Every person deserves to get healthy and stay healthy. That’s at the heart of our fight for the health of every person in our community. Join us as we highlight our Health Issue Area and the crucial work being done in partnership with critical programs.

United Way’s Healing Illinois 21 Week Equity Challenge: Take the pledge to heal our community

Recorded on January 8, 2021

There is significant need for us as individuals and organizations to gain a better understanding of how inequity and racism impact so many of our neighbors. We have partnered with local United Ways across Illinois and the Illinois Department of Human Services with their Healing Illinois initiative. This 21-week program is a self-guided learning journey that examines the history and impact of racism, and how it has shaped people’s lives.  It’s not enough to be kind, and our journey is still only beginning.

The Fight For Financial Stability: Part One

Recorded on January 22, 2021

The whole community benefits when more individuals and families are able to stop walking a financial tightrope and get on solid ground. That’s why we focus on lasting solutions that go beyond charity, because financially stable people are more likely to have access to quality health care, provide a good education for their children, and contribute to their local economies. Hear from our panel about how we’re helping local people keep more of the money they earned – so they can recover from the pandemic, pay for basic expenses, and save for the future.


  • Mark Franklin a Certified Financial Coach with the Workforce and Economic Division of the Springfield Urban League
  • Laura Davis the Director of Representative Payee Services with Helping Hands of Springfield, Inc.
  • Pam Aymer the Director of Elder Assistance Services with Senior Services of Central Illinois

The Fight For Financial Stability: Part Two

Recorded on February 5, 2021

Join us for Part Two of our Financial Stability issue area. Hear more about programs like MyFreeTaxes and how we’re helping to provide individuals and families the education, skills and supports needed to lead financially stable lives.

Learn. Work. Succeed.: How the Continuum of Learning helps improve our economic future

Recorded on February 19, 2021

Launched in 2007 the Continuum of Learning is an initiative of the Community Foundation, The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Central Illinois and University of Illinois Springfield aimed at improving Sangamon County’s economic future through increased educational attainment of its citizens. Hear from United Way staff along with John Stremsterfer with the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and Hillary Rains, the Program Director of Social Innovation for Innovate Springfield to provide an update on what’s coming next from the Continuum.

Kids Dream Big with Books: A deep dive into the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program

Recorded on March 5, 2021

Having early access to books can help children build important academic skills. A United Way funded and supported program to help provide free access to books is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a literacy program that provides children birth to age five, one free, age appropriate book every month, delivered to their homes. Listen to hear how you can help give more kids this magic feeling and help us improve childhood literacy in Sangamon and Menard Counties.

Moving from 2020 to a Brighter Future: Catch up with two of our local Superintendents

Recorded on March 19, 2021

Having early access to books can help children build important academic skills. A United Way funded and supported program to help provide free access to books is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a literacy program that provides children birth to age five, one free, age appropriate book every month, delivered to their homes. Listen to hear how you can help give more kids this magic feeling and help us improve childhood literacy in Sangamon and Menard Counties.

From Day of Action to Vision Councils: How Volunteers Help Make an Impact

Recorded on April 2, 2021

Volunteering, whether for an afternoon or part of a sustained effort, is what keeps our community running. Everything from our fundraising to our grantmaking is volunteer-led and this how we stay connected to Sangamon and Menard Counties. Tune in to hear how our process is volunteer centered and how you can get involved.

Can You Live on an ALICE Budget?: A simulation to show the tough decisions ALICE families make everyday

Recorded on April 16, 2021

ALICE are our families, neighbors and colleagues who work hard, earn above the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget of housing, child car, food, transportation and health care. When the dollars run out, ALICE families are forced to make difficult short-term choices that can result in long-term consequences. 

For example, paying the heating bill instead of rent or deciding to purchase essential medication instead of putting dinner on the table. These choices are not easy.  What would you do? Watch as our attendees participated in a virtual exercise to see if you can make it on an ALICE budget. If you would like to participate in this simulation, please contact our Community Impact team.

2021 Community Impact Report: Changing the way families live, give and grow

Recorded on April 30, 2021

2020 was definitely a busy year for your local United Way. The pandemic has shown all of us that can come together when it matters most. And because of your support we were able to help the most vulnerable among us. Tune in to hear how your investments helped our community during one of the toughest years.

Need Resources: 211 and how it works

Recorded on May 14, 2021

Take a closer look at 211 (our community information and referral services helpline center) because it is more than just a number. Find out how it works and what goes on behind the scenes to ensure it continues to be a robust resource for resource information and support.

How to Live United: Small Actions that make BIG Impacts in our communities.

Recorded on May 28, 2021

Hear our discussion on what types of small actions we are all able to do. How we can Advocate (Lend our voice), help a neighbor in need, lend our talents, lead by example, volunteer by using GetConnected, and just by simply spreading kindness to those in our community! Also, hear from our 2021 Campaign Chairs!

Let’s Review: Allow us to revisit with you some of our past impactful United We Learn sessions.

Recorded on June 11, 2021

Over the past year we have covered a variety of topics on United We Learn. From our COVID response to our community impact work, it has been a pleasure sharing Friday mornings with you. Join us as we spotlight some of our greatest hits and share with you our plans for the future.