United Way announces partners for second year of Your Voice Counts

Bridging differences and inspiring young adults to create sustainable change in societal dialogue
United Way of Southeastern Connecticut launched a youth program in 2022, Your Voice Counts (YVC), to promote trust and civility in our community. The initiative aims to improve communication, critical thinking, and understanding among high school students. Youth gain skills needed to navigate conversations that often result in divisiveness to help make the world a kinder place, one which will contribute to a more positive community.

Your Voice Counts focuses on a new curriculum during which students enhance listening skills and begin to understand viewpoints, which may differ from their own, and to say to others, “Your Voice Counts.”

A team of community volunteers reviewed agency proposals to participate in YVC. Both programs selected will run between January-May 2024. Participants will meet once/twice a week in facilitator led, evidence-based curriculum and develop their final projects which will then be presented to a community panel of reviewers trained by United Way.

Participants will have a final contest to showcase how they can and will bring their new skills and knowledge to the broader community.

The programs participating are:
UCONN Extension – New London County 4-H Program
The mission of 4-H is to assist all youth ages 5-18 in acquiring knowledge, developing leadership and life skills while forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive, and contributing members of their families and communities.

The YVC Program will operate a club led by UConn Extension 4-H staff members in two cohorts, one virtually and one in person. Participants will focus on developing the skills needed to engage in discussions with individuals with viewpoints that differ from their own while becoming advocates for change.
New London Youth Affairs
The YVC program will be integrated into their current Teen Links program at New London Youth Affairs, which serves middle/high school young people through school year employment, workforce certifications, life skills training, and educational/cultural field trips.

YVC will be an additional program offering to gain the skills necessary for navigating the workforce and their everyday lives outside of the classroom. Programming will focus on not only developing skills such as active listening and conflict management but also the self-awareness needed to be confident advocates for themselves and their community.

United Way of Southeastern Connecticut is a locally-based non-profit organization supporting a network of health and human services, programs, and initiatives in New London County that work together to help people in need and improve community conditions. Supported programs make an impact in four areas: Basic Needs; Community Wellness; Promoting Independence; and Thriving Children and Youth.

United Way operates the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center which provides food to a network of free emergency food programs in New London County and a Mobile Pantry, at no cost to those in need. United Way supports 2-1-1 Connecticut for free information and referral 24/7 and Project Warm-up for one-time, emergency heating assistance. Visit United Way online at www.uwsect.org.