Making funding decisions with scarce resources is always difficult. The funding process for 2013 certainly delivered on that expectation with an added component: two specific requests for proposals were aligned with goals in early childhood and financial stability. A third process of mini grant applications covered the gamut of human services. Together, requests totaled more than $1.1 million. The grant budget is $450,000. Ouch!
Even as we are announcing support for 2013, made possible by the campaign 2012 contributions, we are making a final call for help before closing the books at the end of April. We especially seek contributions that can be matched by the grant we have from the Indiana Association of United Ways. To claim a match, contributions must meet one of the following criteria:
- Current gift of less than $100 increases to more than $100.
- Existing or new donors under age 40 increase giving to $250 or more.
- Existing or new donors giving less than $500 increase giving to $500 or more.
- New partners will provide direct support for financial stability work in any amount.
That said, it’s more important to focus on what will be done rather than on what can’t, and that’s my intent here. There are some real innovations represented by the programs that have been reviewed and new and exciting partnerships are being formed that I have no doubt will result in visible, measurable change in the lives of families across Madison County.
Our community can already celebrate some real success with school readiness and early grade learning. The Community Alliance to Promote Education (CAPE) announced that 86 percent of third-grade students in Madison County passed the ISTEP language arts test in 2012 — twice the percent that was successful when CAPE began its work. Kindergarten students are also testing at much higher levels than when Born Learning Connection joined CAPE to increase outreach to families and caregivers — moving from low 40 percent to high 60 percent testing at grade level. Born Learning Connection continues to expand outreach to families and caregivers in all settings across the county.
The developing work in financial stability has resulted in economic opportunity of all kinds: soft skills from budgeting to customer service, career training and certification from certified nursing assistants to welders, asset building from savings accounts to individual development or education accounts, to home buyer programs, and more.
There is continued support for basic services as well: food, shelter, substance abuse, safe havens, exercise and nutrition. In addition to program funding, United Way supports direct assistance and network partners with more than $100,000, and more than $50,000 through Born Learning Connection. United Way also supports 2-1-1 information and referral service for Madison County and sets aside a small amount for board discretionary funding.
With all of these budgeted items added to the approximately $160,000 that is sent directly to organizations as donor designated contributions, the community support budget has surpassed the annual campaign total. But local contributions continue to be the driver of United Way’s ability to create positive change in our community.
Nancy Vaughan is president of United Way of Madison County Inc. Her column appears the fourth Sunday of each month. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-3061.