Why Middle School?

The future well-being of our community rests squarely on the shoulders of our middle school students.
It’s a fact: unless our middle schoolers are prepared for college and have the skills required for the 21st century workforce, we won't have the resources we need to compete, and thrive, as a community.

The long-term effects of not graduating from high school are significant: high school dropouts are three times more likely to live in poverty, and six times more likely to be arrested.

Studies show that the process of dropping out of high school actually begins in middle school. For the 23% of our Winnebago County middle school students now living in high-poverty neighborhoods, the challenges can seem almost insurmountable.

Early intervention is critical. Research also shows that if a student hits one or more of the following indicators during their middle school years, without successful intervention their likelihood of graduating from high school can drop to just 25 percent:

  • Attendance - missing 18 days (10 percent)
  • Behavior - two or more behavioral referrals
  • Course performance - failing a core subject such as English or math

Challenges ahead. A reading of the region’s middle school ‘barometer’ would indicate trouble ahead. For example: an estimated 70% of Winnebago County middle school students are now failing Algebra I – a critical building block for the jobs of the future.

The time to act is now.

What We Do

Without early intervention, thousands of area middle school students will continue to struggle, helping to perpetuate a seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty, crime and hopelessness. That’s why the United Way of Rock River Valley is targeting our region’s middle school students with its Move the Middle Now programs. In the coming months, we’ll be working with our community partners to help influence outcomes that, for so many years, and for thousands of struggling students, have been a foregone conclusion.

Get Involved


United Way of Rock River Valley is more than just a fundraiser – we are a community leader. We lead the hand-raisers and the game-changers when we fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every neighborhood. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

No matter how large or small, every gift is important, and 100% of your contribution stays right here in our community. So join the fight because we are stronger together than we are alone.




Advocacy goes beyond volunteering and giving in order to drive long-term changes. It starts with informing yourself about the ways to create positive, lasting improvements in our community. From there, we encourage you to inform your friends, neighbors, and co-workers about these important steps that help everyone find their path to success.

Stay Tuned…

Move the Middle Now is just getting started. It will be a long, arduous journey. Many challenges, and opportunities, await us along the way. But if not now, when? If not us, who? Stay in touch, get involved. We’ll be rolling out processes, programs and, with your help, showing progress in the coming months. Our future depends on it.

With your help, we can move the middle. It’s a game changer for the future of our youth and the community. Ready to join the fight? Contact Us to learn more about our Move the Middle initiatives going forward.