Building Strong Youth

Champion for Children – Basic Needs 

Basic Needs:  For children and teens to learn effectively and grow and develop in a healthy way, their basic needs must be met. Unfortunately, too many children have face barriers and traumatic stress because of the challenges and socials ills they have to overcome. The recent 2020 census shows that 17% (1 out 6) households in Fort Dodge are living at or below the poverty level and 1 out of 4 children and adolescents are living in a household that is below, at or very close to the poverty level.  

Preventing Child Homelessness 

1 in 5 children live in families that are at risk of becoming homeless. 43% of families with dependent children in Fort Dodge are single parent families. Most of these homeless children live in single parent households heading by the mother.  United Way’s Homeless Prevention Fund helps these families in financial crisis so they can find affordable housing or remain in their current homes and the children do not become victims of homelessness.

Fighting Hunger

In Fort Dodge, one out of every seven children are food insecure and are periodically coping with hunger. United Way provides support for our local food pantries so they can offer food assistance for families in need.


Clothes for Kids

United Way provides vouchers for children who are in dire need of clothing that fits them appropriately including shoes, pants, shirts, underwear, socks and coats. Children who lack proper clothing often go to school cold, uncomfortable and embarrassed. 

Beds for Kids 

There are many children in Fort Dodge that sleep on the floor at night because they do not have a bed. A good night’s sleep in a warm bed can make all the difference in the world for a child.  Over the past ten years, United Way has distributed over 1,000 beds to children in need of a warm bed.


Hope for Healing Fund 

Transportation - United Way helps low income families that have a child with cancer or other serious medical conditions and they need transportation assistance to get their sick child to a larger medical center in Des Moines, Iowa City or Rochester for lifesaving medical care.  United Way provides these families with gas cards and other travel costs.

Prescription for Kids – United Way’s Prescription for Kids program provides financial support for children in need of prescription drugs when their family does not have the financial ability to pay for the drug.  

Medical Equipment – When a child is need of medical equipment such as a wheelchair, crutches, walkers, oxygen concentrators, monitors, ventilators, nebulizers, etc., United Way is here to help.     

Adolescent Mental Health 

Depression is the most common mental health disorder among teens that can have a long-term and serious impact on their lives. Today, 33% of teens experience depression and anxiety, and many are considered clinically depressed. Teens with untreated depression are more likely to engage in at-risk behaviors that can lead to low self-esteem, suicide, drug abuse, dropping out of school, teen pregnancy etc. In Fort Dodge and across the nation, adolescent depression is at an all-time high. 

United Way works with our local mental health agencies and families to provide financial support so no child or teen will be denied the mental health services they need.  These youth need our support to overcome anxiety and depression so they can lead full and productive lives.

Vision to Learn 

Children need to have good vision so they can learn and achieve in school. United Way provides free glasses for children in need of corrective lenses but do not have the funds to cover the costs for an eye exam and lenses.

Education and Enrichment

United Way supports a wide range of educational and enrichment programs for youth including extracurricular activities such as youth sports, art, music and youth leadership clubs.  We want no child to be denied the chance to participate in healthy enrichment activities.