Bristol Herald Courier: United Way Kicks Off Regional Campaign

KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The CEO of the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education shared her passion for education and a message of hope during the United Way regional campaign kickoff Thursday.

Jamie Woodson collaboratively works to support K-12 education in Tennessee and also works with leaders across the state to prepare students for college and the workforce.


She praised the 300 United Way officials and partner agencies who attended the luncheon for working to improve their communities. The event, held at MeadowView Marriot Resort and Conference Center in Kingsport, also marked the beginning of local campaigns across the Mountain Empire.


During her keynote address, Woodson told the crowd that fostering education in the region is important. United Way-funded programs like Reading Buddies help prepare students, she added.


“Over half of our students in the state are not reading at grade level,” Woodson said. “Our kids are moving forward, but test results still aren’t showing that we’ve achieved the best yet.”


Students in Tennessee have improved from 46th to 25th in the nation in fourth grade math and from 32nd to 19th in fourth grade science, she said.


Prior to joining SCORE, Woodson served for more than a decade in the Tennessee General Assembly in both the House and Senate. As chairman of the Senate Education Committee and later Senate speaker pro tempore,

Woodson worked to overhaul the state’s education funding formula, raise academic standards and turn around low-performing schools.


This year’s regional United Way fundraising goal is $7.4 million, including $1.1 million for the Twin City, according to United Way of Greater Kingsport Campaign Chairman Bill Tripp.


United Way of Bristol’s campaign kickoff is still several weeks away, but Executive Director Lisa Cofer said it’s now time to prepare fundraising efforts.


“This is a jumpstart for the community campaign that will be coming up in Bristol next month,” Cofer said. “We partner with our neighboring United Ways on many levels during the year, but with this event we can get everyone together to draw attention to the work we do.”


The United Way of Bristol provides funding to 28 agencies across the Twin City.


The theme for this year’s Bristol campaign is “Give a Little, Change A lot,” which Cofer said has an important message.


“To change lives, you don’t have to give huge amounts of money and we are so very grateful for those individuals who can have the means to make large donations,” Cofer said. “We also want people to realize that any amount makes a difference and because of that, if you give a little, then you are changing lives. We want to be able to help our partner agencies in the region and that’s why our campaigns are so crucial.”