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Vision125: A Renewed Direction

Four story brick building with adjacent courtyard

By Julia Johannsen, Board Chair, and Maicharia Z. Weir Lytle, President and CEO

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last fall, I shared with you and others in our community that USES had commenced a strategic planning process to maintain its strong, high-quality programming while also addressing a significant need to overcome years-long financial difficulties. (Read my previous blog posts here and here.)

I expressed that change was coming at USES, that the stakes were high, and that we'd be as transparent as possible at every stage of the process. That change is here. Our Vision125 strategic planning process enabled us to do some deep, careful, and critical thinking about the future of USES and how to best focus our limited resources on where we believe we can have the most impact. We are happy to provide you an update on how we are moving forward.

We believe that as families stabilize, become more resilient, and connect to a diverse network, they and their children are more likely to develop the skills they need to succeed. As such, we are pivoting to a program model that will mobilize our diverse community to disrupt the cycle of poverty for children and families. Our approach is comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and supports the whole family:

We will work with parents and caregivers through individualized, one-on-one coaching to develop their personal capacities to reach their goals, and to help them enter the workforce on a career trajectory that provides long-term stability for their families.

We will provide children and youth with quality education and enrichment opportunities that promote their development, expand their horizons, and ready them for school and beyond. Our youth will participate in a pathway of programming that includes early childhood education and out of school time programming including a summer sleep-away experience on Squam Lake in NH. All of our youth will receive a curriculum infused with arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

We will enable families to increase their social capital by building a network of disrupters who participate in our high-quality programs, as participants and volunteers, and through other networking and community building opportunities.

To achieve our new vision, we need to align our programs and operations to our new theory of change and renewed mission. This means we will work to transition our existing senior services programs to experienced organizations that we believe can serve our seniors even better than we can. Meanwhile, we plan to explore how we can engage seniors in our new model while shifting the focus of our Workforce Readiness program from education to career preparation, and moving from stand-alone vacation arts programming to agency-wide arts access for all of our youth. These changes will happen at the end of our fiscal year - June 30 - allowing time for a thoughtful transition.

Ultimately, we envision our impact will have a positive cumulative effect on every member of participating families in our community. If families with children are more stable financially and enjoying increased economic mobility, they'll be able to better support seniors in their lives as well, with more quality time and greater resources.

One of the things we've learned how to do well over the past 125 years is to reinvent and revitalize our organization to continually meet the needs of the community through many eras of change. We're innovating again, and in the tradition of the settlement house movement, our work in teaching, inspiring, connecting, guiding, and caring for others in our community will endure.

It's a privilege to be part of an organization that has weathered the winds of change for well over a century, and remains steadfast to a core mission that is rewarding and transformative for all whom USES touches. If you have any questions or would like to learn about ways to get involved, please email

Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to continuing our partnership to support children and families, and keeping you updated as we make essential changes at USES to create a more meaningful impact.

In community,


Julia Johannsen                       Maicharia Z. Weir Lytle

Board Chair                                President & CEO

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