KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," 9/11/11, 7:30 AM & KTTU "In Focus," 9/11/11, 10:30 AM

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Tony Penn, Pres. & CEO, United Way of Tucson & So. AZ. Another United Way campaign kicks off in Southern Arizona in a couple of weeks.

Penn says the goal this year is to top the $8-million raised in the 1010 fund drive. He says the campaign begins Sept. 28 with a kick-off event at McKale Center on the UA Campus.  He says that day is also the first “Day of Caring” when volunteers carry out a variety of people-helping projects across the area.  A second day takes place Oct. 1.

Penn says he has been successful in turning around the difficult situation he took on when he came to the United Way a year ago.  He says during his first year he has seen current liabilities reduced by more than 2-million dollars, the organization’s credit line has been reduced to zero, operating reserves have been restored, the board structure has been overhauled and workplace contributions increased last year.  He says in general, the organization’s operation is much more “transparent” than it has ever been.  

Penn says the focus locally continues to be on “education.”  He says by partnering with Arizona’s First Things First initiative, more kids are able to read at the appropriate level by the time they reach third grade, and the local high school drop-out rate is declining.  He says the annual VITA (Volunteers In Tax Preparation) program returns millions of dollars to the community through the free tax services provided by volunteers.