Erika Hunt understands the intricacies of policy. A member of the Center for Education Policy housed in the College of Education, she and her colleagues have been honored for their work developing strategies to help the state educators train and prepare for the future.

Though she works every day helping others see the big picture, Hunt realized something was missing. “So often what we do is on a state level, so you don’t often see the every-day impact.”

Hunt became a volunteer for United Way of McLean County, working with the Education Solutions Team to help distribute the local funds raised. “United Way is such a good organization. It tries to pull resources together to help the community,” she said, adding that the collective effort can tackle problems on a larger scale. “The social issues facing education are generally larger than any one organization can handle. We have a greater impact when we work together.”

The United Way leadership quickly realized Hunt’s knowledge could help in other ways. Adapting some of her work from the state level on an advisory committee that made recommendations for the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS), Hunt helped create a local skills survey used by Unit 5 and District 87 school districts for children coming into kindergarten.

“The goal was to create a tool aligned with KIDS and the kindergarten common core standards that could assist school staff with identifying where children are coming in,” said Hunt. United Way is looking for ways to build on this work, including potential funding for kindergarten readiness camps at local elementary schools for children and their families to make them comfortable with the school setting prior to starting school.

As a volunteer for United Way, Hunt is looking for ways to engage ISU college students as well as other faculty and staff with the United Way-funded organizations. “There are before- and after-school programs, literacy programs, and a host of others that could benefit from working with our students, faculty, and staff,” said Hunt.

Hunt is also working with focus groups to help streamline United Way’s work with “support partners,” or the organizations United Way funds. “If two organizations are funding the same type of project, it only makes sense for them to work together. That way we can create a greater impact,” said Hunt. “It’s all about investing in community and being good stewards of that investment.”

United Way is one of nearly 2,000 charities in the State Employee Combined Appeal (SECA) catalog. The SECA campaign runs through Nov. 7 at Illinois State. Download a form and send it to SECA Chair Georgia Martin at Campus Box 3390.

Find more information on SECA, including pledge forms and stories about how SECA impacts the lives of ISU employees.