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United Way of Salt Lake has announced its United for Change Changemaker Award honorees for 2017. United Way will honor Kurt Micka, executive director of Utah Partners for Health; state Sen. F. Ann Millner, R-Ogden; Kearns High School Principal Maile Loo; and the Silicon Slopes Startup Santa program as the 2017 Changemakers.

“United Way of Salt Lake is privileged to honor the 2017 Changemakers,” said Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake. “These individuals and organizations exemplify the passion, long-term commitment, generosity, hands-on involvement and collaboration necessary to shift ideas to action. By collaborating with United Way and many others to address our community’s toughest issues, these Changemakers have multiplied the effects of positive change and have made Utah a better place to live. We are grateful for their efforts that inspire the Changemaker in everyone.”

The Changemaker Awards are given to business and civic leaders and organizations that have worked with others to create measureable change in the community, United Way said in a statement. “Through dedication and teamwork, they create lasting impact, inspire action, and are a transformational force for good,” the organization said.

“Kurt Micka, and his associates at Utah Partners for Health (UPFH), define what it means to be a committed, compassionate and willing partner in collective impact,” United Way said. “At every turn, UPFH has stepped up, looking to see what new supports it could bring to the table and in most cases doing so in a way that leverages existing resources. Kurt and his team serve 'Promise Communities' with mobile health clinics, mobile optometry (eye) clinics, glasses delivered to schools, mental health supports, and even dental supports. In addition, UPFH regularly helps with site visits and works with partners to raise funds to support various programs.”

Millner serves as the state senator for District 18 and is chair of the Education Standing Committee and serves on the Economic Development and Workforce Services and Senate Rules committees, Higher Education Committee and the Public Education Appropriations Committee. She is a Regents professor of health administration and former president at Weber State University.

“When elected, Dr. Millner became one of the Senate’s leading education Changemaker, leading out on key education policy initiatives on behalf of the Senate. She has sponsored groundbreaking legislation in close coordination with the Promise Partnership Regional Council and UWSL, including the High-Quality School Readiness Program Expansion and Partnerships for Student Success during the 2016 session,” the United Way release said. “The High-Quality School Readiness Program Expansion added $11 million a year for three years to high-quality preschool for at-risk children, increasing the investment Utah makes in early childhood education.”

“Loo has been teaching, coaching and leading for 32 years — the past 18 as principal at some of the most diverse and challenging schools in the state,” said the release. “During her six years at Kearns High, Maile has been a powerful influence that has changed the odds for thousands of students by emphasizing increased graduation rates and college readiness. The percentage of students applying for college has steadily increased to more than 90 percent. Since 2012, the number of students completing FAFSA applications, one of the strongest indicators of student commitment to college, has doubled from 18 percent to 40 percent. Additionally, Kearns High graduation rates have jumped nearly 20 percent from 66 percent in 2012 to 84 percent in 2016.”

Silicon Slopes is a nonprofit that exists to empower Utah entrepreneurs to learn, connect and serve. In 2015, the organization’s executive director, Clint Betts, approached United Way of Utah County to find out how the tech and startup community could best give back to the community over the holiday season. What Betts discovered was that two out of every three Utah children living in low-income families and attending third grade don’t read at a proficient level, that 347,000 Utah children live at or near the poverty level and that 234,00 of those children are at-risk of intergenerational poverty. Because of this, Silicon Slopes launched Startup Santa and raised 13,644 books from over 40 companies its first year.

In 2016, Silicon Slopes expanded its partnership with United Ways across the state promising to double the results, and engaged more than 90 companies and community organizations. Startup Santa 2016 raised 88,000 books along with cash donations for children living in low-income families. Also, 178 volunteers gave 352 hours of service to sort and distribute the books as well as read to children throughout Salt Lake County.

The Changemaker Awards will be presented at the United for Change breakfast on March 16. Information is available at unitedforchange.uw.org.