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A joint effort between Bridgewater State University’s Institute for Policy Analysis and Regional Engagement (IPARE) and School of Social Work has resulted in the completion of a needs assessment for the five United Ways across Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod. This marked the first time these United Ways have collaborated on a project of this scope and magnitude.
The study identified the most pressing concerns in the region to help inform program delivery goals in areas served by the United Ways of the Cape and Islands, Greater Attleboro/Taunton, Greater Fall River, Greater New Bedford and Greater Plymouth County.
The core of the study focused on three areas: Education, income and health. Using Bridgewater’s Qualtrics software, a survey instrument was developed and distributed to leaders of organizations located in or providing services within each United Way’s service area. Information from more than 120 agency leaders is included in the report.
Dr. Arnaa Alcon, associate professor and chairperson of the School of Social Work, provided guidance and supervision of the two social work graduate students – Brian Diehl of Harwich and Brandy Mohn of Marion – who designed the survey, compiled the data and authored the report. In addition, Ms. Mohn produced detailed reports for each of the United Ways.
Dennis Carman, president of the United Way of Greater Plymouth County, had worked with the university in 2007 on a needs assessment of his organization. “When the time came for a larger collaboration between the United Ways of Southeastern Massachusetts, I knew that Bridgewater State University could serve as the perfect convener,” he said.
Dr. Deniz Leuenberger, associate professor and IPARE’s faculty director, was responsible for bringing the parties together. The regional United Ways will be convened over upcoming months to discuss the findings of the report, said Mary Waldron, director of IPARE.
“The project was a way to facilitate and improve communication, promote stakeholder engagement and shape public debate on matters of regional importance,” said Frederick W. Clark Jr., Bridgewater’s executive vice president and vice president of external affairs. “As a public institution, it is of vital importance to work with our nonprofit partners who, like Bridgewater State University, have a mission to serve this region.”