Our Focus

United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for all. Our focus is on education, financial stability and health—the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community.

Explore our Focus Areas


United Way fights for all Mahaska County students to enter school ready to learn and graduate prepared for careers.

United Way’s educational goal is to ensure that youth gain the knowledge, skills, and credentials so that they are prepared for the workforce and able to obtain family-sustaining employment. The evidence clearly demonstrates this can only occur if a solid foundation has been laid; school readiness is predictive of early grade proficiency which is predictive of graduation. United Way of Mahaska County supports a number of local educational support programs and partners.


Iowa Reading Corps at Oskaloosa Elementary School:

Iowa Reading Corps is a statewide initiative to help ensure that all Iowa students are on track to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. The program utilizes the latest research on reading intervention strategies and guidance from reading experts to provide struggling readers what they need – individualized, data-driven instruction, one-on-one attention, well-trained tutors, and the frequency and duration necessary for student achievement. Each day, members meet individually with students to conduct 20-minute tutoring sessions that focus upon building students’ skills in phonics, phonemic awareness, and fluency. Participants are three-times less likely to be assigned special education than non-participants, thus creating a permanent benefit to children and a significant on-going savings to schools.


Mahaska County YMCA:

The Y believes all children and teens have potential. But research shows that many youth from underserved and low-income families need extra support in reaching this potential. They often start kindergarten underprepared and fall behind their peers as they progress through school. That “gap,” known as the achievement gap, presents not just immediate hurdles for these students, but also long-term challenges for us all. The Y is working with caregivers, students and schools across the country to close the gap, piloting evidence-based programs that improve students’ educational readiness, engagement and outcomes, while helping them grow emotionally and physically, too. Click here to learn more about the efforts to close the gap.

4-H Youth Development:

In 4‑H, we believe in the power of young people. We see that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around us. 4‑H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. For more than 100 years, 4‑H has welcomed young people of all beliefs and backgrounds, giving kids a voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better. Through life-changing 4‑H programs, nearly six million kids and teens have taken on critical societal issues, such as addressing community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse and advocating for equity and inclusion for all.

United Way fights for all Mahaska County residents to improve economic stability and self-sufficiency.

United Way of Mahaska County works with local agencies to give people the tools they need to improve their lives and the lives of their children. We work to create pathways to financial stability so that every person has the opportunity to thrive financially. United Way has several programs and strategies to work toward this goal, including making sure people’s basic needs are met, connecting people to education and job training to prepare them for careers that can support their families, and helping people access financial services and benefits that help them achieve their financial goals. Moving more families onto the path of financial stability creates better futures for them, and a stronger community for all of us.


Iowa Legal Aid:

Iowa Legal Aid makes hope, dignity and justice available to low-income Iowans through legal assistance and education that protects fundamental rights, basic necessities and access to the judicial system; challenges policies and practices that harm low-income persons; and empowers clients to advocate effectively for themselves and their communities.  Iowa Legal Aid envisions a state where low-income people have access to services and resources to meet their basic needs and where all residents can vindicate their legal rights and be treated fairly throughout the civil justice system. Along with volunteer lawyers throughout the state, Iowa Legal Aid helps the legal system work for those who cannot afford help with legal issues.


Love INC:

Love INC connects people in need with resources that can help. It identifies unmet needs in the community and helps churches build ministries to respond – to fill the gaps in services that the church(es) feel called to address. We also serve the local community’s agencies and charities by accepting referrals from them of people who need assistance.




Mahaska County Homeless Coalition:

The Mahaska County Homeless Coalition is a nonprofit group with a goal to help the homeless find safe shelter and overcome barriers to having permanent housing. The Coalition consists of caring volunteers and is funded through monetary donations. Approximately 80 people are assisted with homelessness related needed in our county every year. Each request is evaluated to determine the best way to assist, and often includes referrals to other resources. United Way funds are used to provide safe, emergency short-term shelter; help with partial rapid rehousing costs; prevent homelessness with partial rent or utility assistance; purchase bus tickets to help individuals return to their home community or get to a long term shelter; or provide emergency food or gasoline.

United Way fights for all residents to lead active, safe and healthy lives.

Good health is an essential ingredient for individual success and a thriving community. United Way’s health goal is to enable individuals and families to improve their health. This requires creating healthy communities, increasing physical activity and access to healthy food, and ensuring that children and families get off to a healthy start.


Agency on Aging:

Agency on Aging is committed to working with communities and community-based organizations to increase awareness for aging successfully with dignity and independence. Agency on Aging provides support to seniors and adults with disabilities so they may live independently; helps coordinate home based community services; identifies resources and services; assists people in accessing services; and advocates for seniors, adults with disabilities and their caregivers.


Crisis Intervention Services:

Crisis Intervention Services provides services to victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and violent crimes. The mission of Crisis Intervention Services is to provide prevention and life skills education, intervention, shelter, and outreach services to empower persons, families, and the community to end all forms of violence. Services include but are not limited to: personal advocacy, legal advocacy, 24-hour sexual assault and emergency shelter crisis lines, support groups, medical advocacy, transportation, emergency shelter and transitional housing.

Ecumenical Cupboard:

Without adequate nutrition, we can’t function at our best. For adults, that can mean that their health suffers (food insecure Americans are more likely to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure) or they might struggle to perform at work. For children, that can mean growth, development, and behavioral issues that can last for their entire life. No matter the severity, food insecurity is a tough thing to live with. Providing adequate nutrition for those struggling with food insecurity isn’t a one-time fix. It’s a challenge that requires three good meals a day for every Iowan. To provide these meals, we work with a vast network of over 600 partner agencies (food pantries, meal sites, shelters, and others) to distribute more than 1 million lbs. of food per month.


Imagine the Possibilities:

Imagine The Possibilities is committed to providing quality Community based Services to people with disabilities.  People served will be assured individually designed services that enhance capabilities in environments that tolerate only dignity and respect for all.  Our primary focus is to enhance each persons quality of life through individual achievement. We provide teaching, options, support and the necessary skills and tools to people with disabilities.



MHP Palliative Care:

Palliative care is for individuals who do not meet the qualifications for hospice or are not ready for hospice services. Palliative care is a short-term, home-based program for individuals who need assistance managing pain and symptoms, as well as other supportive care. While in the Palliative Care Program, patients may continue to seek treatment in hopes of curing their illness. There is no charge to the patient or family for Palliative Care services because the service is funded by a grant from United Way of Mahaska County.

Mahaska County YMCA:

The Y aims to improve the health and well-being of individuals by providing programs and activities that promote wellness, reduce risk for disease and help others reclaim their health. These programs and everything else the Y does are in service of making us—our community—better. The result is a community that values health and supports healthy choices.