Good health influences everything from how well a child is able to learn in the classroom to how much an adult is able to earn in the workplace. The effects truly last a lifetime. UWGSC seeks to expand care for all ages, increase availability of preventative care for healthy moms and babies, promote healthy behaviors and prevent opiate substance abuse to help create a foundation for strong families and a thriving community.


United Way’s community BOLD GOALS in Health are to increase the number of Stark County residents reporting they are healthy; reduce the infant mortality rate to meet or exceed the Healthy People 2020 Objective and reduce the disparity across races and reduce opiate substance abuse.

  • 34% of Stark County third-graders are overweight or obese. (Source: Stark County Community Health Improvement Plan)

  • In 2015, 38.3% of the children brought into custody were sighted with parental drug use as a factor. Heroin and opiates were the most frequent at 17%. (Source: Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery)

  • The 2014 Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) for Stark County is 8.2, higher than Ohio's IMR of 6.9, and greater than the national rate of 5.96 (2013). (Source: Stark County THRIVE)

  • Stark County's Disparity rate is 3.0. In Stark County, black infants die at three times the rate of white infants (IMR White = 6.7; IME Black = 20.2) (2014). (Source: THRIVE)


To improve health in Greater Stark County, United Way currently invests nearly $1M in 23 programs focused on strategies that give residents access to services that improve the overall health of our community.

  • Healthy Lifestyles

  • Physical Health

  • Behavioral Health 


United Way is collaborating with community organizations such as THRIVE (Stark County Toward Healthy Resiliency for Infant Vitality and Equity), whose goal is to enhance the health and well-being of women, infants and families by improving the community resources and service delivery systems available to them. 

THRIVE has selected two interventions that would allow for the greatest possible impact in reducing infant mortality and disparity rates in our community.

  1. Safe Sleep Education, Policies and Resources: creates awareness, provides educational programs and institutionalizes safe sleep policies and practices.  

  2. CenteringPregnancy® Group Prenatal Care with Community-Based Care Coordination: provides education on early prenatal care, CenteringPregnancy®, addresses barriers to accessing prenatal care and other socio-economic needs by providing information and connection to community resources.


Carlynn is a mother of five. She knows the routine of doctor visits and the loneliness of waiting rooms. When she was expecting her fourth child, Carlynn found a new pregnancy experience through THRIVE’s CenteringPregnancy® Group Prenatal Care.

Carlynn joined a group of other expectant mothers of all ages. The group met regularly throughout her entire pregnancy. Each meeting featured the same doctors and nurses. Even more importantly, the same women attended each gathering.

Over the course of the program, Carlynn and the women developed a strong, lasting camaraderie as they learned more about caring for themselves and their babies.

“It is wonderful just knowing you don’t have to go through it alone. The women in the group and the doctors and nurses empower you and give you comfort and confidence through the entire process. That part alone is powerful,” Carlynn said.

THRIVE helped Carlynn learn about safe sleep, swaddling, developmental milestones, birthing options and more. Even though Carlynn already had three children, through CenteringPregnancy® she learned new information.

More than just an alternative to standard doctor visits, THRIVE connected Carlynn and other women in her group with resources, transportation, housing and food needs. THRIVE made the difference for Carlynn and her last two pregnancies, helping her children celebrate their first birthdays and beyond.


Behind all of our work, there are people like you who get significantly involved in big and small ways to ensure a better future for their family and their community. Your involvement is our most powerful resource. With you on our team, we can reach our goal of a better future for Greater Stark County. Will you join us?