Dr. Seuss Day

United Way of Rock River Valley and The Literacy Council are collaborating on a 24-hour mobile giving campaign to purchase Dr. Seuss books for young readers in celebration of the author's birthday on Thursday, March 2. By texting BOOKS to 30306, donors may access a donation form that allows them to make a gift in increments of $5, each of which represents one of four Dr. Seuss books. Donors will also have the opportunity to select from four Dr. Seuss titles with the donation.


Thanks to an anonymous donor, all mobile pledges will be matched up to $1,000. The goal is to provide one Dr. Seuss book for every United Way I READ student, an early-grade reading program in partnership with The Literacy Council. Now in its fifth year, United Way I READ serves 350 Kindergarten thru third grade students in Harlem, Meridian, Oregon, and Rockford school districts. The Dr. Seuss book title choices are Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who, Oh, The Places You Will Go, and The Lorax.

Success By 6 mobile app

(Rockford, Ill. - 02/07/2017) – Rockford Public Library and United Way of Rock River Valley announced a partnership to add video recordings of all Success By 6 school readiness book titles on the library's existing mobile app. Launched in July 2016, the library app features services and resources, including a Look, Listen & Learn Storytime section that encourages reading. Recorded by library staff and read in both English and Spanish, the library will release a new school readiness book to coincide with United Way's monthly Page Turner Reading Program.

"No matter where you are, if your reading skills are limited and neither English nor Spanish are your native languages, you can sit with your child, snuggle up and 'read' stories," said Lynn Stainbrook, executive director of Rockford Public Library.

Over 4,000 children in pre-k programs in Harlem and Rockford school districts, City of Rockford Head Start, Diocese of Rockford, and Rockford Lutheran School each receive a brand new book of their very own each month through United Way's Page Turner Reading Program. Parents and educators also receive early childhood learning information. In addition to the book recordings, the app provides a spelling test as an educational component. The expansion of the Look, Listen & Learn Storytime app feature, which is available on Android and iPhone systems, is made possible through a grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.

Strong Neighborhoods Professional Development Workshop

Suzanne Shelain of Furst Staffing presents on key communication skills to utilize during interviews.

(Rockford, Ill. - 01/18/2017) – Residents learned about soft job skills during the first in a series of professional development workshops held directly in Ellis Heights neighborhood. The Skills to pay the Bills workshop focused on helping residents master interviewing skills and explore the different types of appropriate business attire to wear in a workplace. Participants received a free outfit from the Mt. Sinai Professional Clothing Closet.

The workshop, a part of United Way's Strong Neighborhoods initiative, was a collective effort between Furst Staffing, Inner City Reconstruction, Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, Rockford Minister's Fellowship, Winnebago County Diversity Council and Workforce Connection. One of United Way's key strategies in its Strong Neighborhoods initiative is to connect adults with job skills and economic opportunities.

For more information on United Way's Strong Neighborhoods community impact, contact Matthew Simpson, neighborhood impact manager, by calling 815-968-5400.

MyFreeTaxes provides a free, safe and easy way to file state, federal taxes.

(Rockford, Ill. - 01/25/2017) – United Way of Rock River Valley today announced enhanced security features to MyFreeTaxes designed to further safeguard taxpayer information. MyFreeTaxes is a free, safe and easy way for anyone earning $64,000 or less to file state and federal taxes.

For the past eight years, United Way has partnered with H&R Block to provide free tax filing services for federal and state taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since that time, the partnership has helped more than 750,000 taxpayers claim every deduction and credit they deserve. These tax breaks that lead to refunds provide important opportunities for individuals and families in the Rockford region to build their financial stability.

"MyFreeTaxes helps put refund money back in the taxpayers' pockets so that they can pay bills, cover their costs of living, and put money aside to build a more stable financial future," said Paul Nolley, United Way community impact manager.

When it comes to security and protecting client data, H&R Block is among the industry leaders. Its online filing platform contains:

  • Encryption technology that helps safeguard sensitive information
  • Several layers of authentication for H&R Block account access which further protects from unauthorized access
  • Secure connection established between client's browser and H&R Block servers, encrypting any data that is passed between them to protect the privacy of that data

Eligibility and features
Taxpayers earning less than $64,000 can enter their data through, which links to a secure H&R Block website, making it easy to complete their taxes from home, at work or on mobile devices.

The key features of MyFreeTaxes include:

  • Free, unlimited, personalized real-time chat and phone support from IRS-certified operators at 1-855-MY-TX-HELP. The helpline, with operators who speak both English and Spanish, operates from January 13 through April 18 from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Friday and 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on Saturday
  • Refund RevealTM will show filers how and why their refund amount is changing
  • MyFreeTaxes is promoted by United Way, and users can contact their local United Way for other local resources, or find ways to volunteer and further support their community
  • Advanced functionality for those working in the gig economy or need to include information regarding real estate investments, stock options or inheritance taxes

MyFreeTaxes comes with the same brand promise as all H&R Block's products: that consumers are guaranteed a maximum refund, 100 percent accuracy and 100 percent satisfaction. H&R Block's DIY products are based on 60-plus years of preparing income tax returns.


About H&R Block
H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) is a global consumer tax services provider. Tax return preparation services are provided by professional tax preparers in approximately 12,000 company-owned and franchise retail tax offices worldwide, and through H&R Block tax software products for the DIY consumer. H&R Block also offers adjacent Tax Plus products and services. In fiscal 2016, H&R Block had annual revenues of over $3 billion with 23.2 million tax returns prepared worldwide. For more information, visit the H&R Block Newsroom at



(Rockford, Ill. - 01/18/2017) – The United Way 2-1-1 Quarterly Report for Fourth Quarter 2016 is now available to download. The quarterly report contains information for both Ogle and Winnebago counties during the period of October 2016 – December 2016.

View Report >


Quick Stats:

- 891 total calls received between October - December
- 1,695 total service referrals between October - December
- Top service request: Rent and Utility Assistance
- Top unmet need: Utility Assistance and Holiday Programs


United Way 2-1-1, available 24/7, is an easy to remember three-digit telephone number that connects individuals in Winnebago and Ogle counties with important services and volunteer opportunities. Launched in August 2012, the 2-1-1 phone system offers free information and referrals on a broad range of services, including utility assistance, affordable housing, health resources, job training programs, and Winnebago County government services. All calls are free and confidential and the 2-1-1 network supports multiple languages including Spanish and Manadarin Chinese. For emergency services, callers should call 911.