Community Impact Grant awards

United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN) unites people and resources to improve lives in the area with a focus on education, income (financial stability), health, safety and well-being, and hunger – the building blocks for a good quality of life. United Way achieves these goals by convening the community to address key issues, collaborating to achieve measureable impact, and connecting human and financial resources. Your dollar goes further with UWSWMN because we’re not doing our work alone. In 2014-15, we will partner with more than thirty community partner programs and deliver on more than a dozen UWSWMN programs and initiatives furthering the network of human services and volunteerism in the region. Your donation goes far, but never far away.

The United Way is unique in the way it invests in southwest Minnesota. It starts by raising money from businesses, organizations, and local people. Then every year community investment volunteers from across the region look at the collective needs of the whole service area. Volunteers participating in the process this year represented sixteen communities and evaluated the programs’ plans and goals, metrics and results, track record, impact and financial management. These reviews resulted in recommendations for funding to the United Way Board of Directors. This work was challenging because total funding requests were 47 percent greater than funds available for grants.

The Board of Directors of United Way of Southwest Minnesota approved the investment of $358,271 in community impact and other grants. These grants will support programs targeting outcomes in education, income, health, safety and well-being, and hunger across Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Yellow Medicine, western Redwood, and portions of Cottonwood, Lac Qui Parle and Nobles counties.

Below are highlights by impact area.

Education: Preparing children to succeed in school and youth to succeed in the community is receiving 33.5 percent of the grant funding ($119,906). Literacy building programs like the Imagination Library, which has distributed over 230,000 books since its inception in southwest Minnesota, seek to improve the proficiency of children entering kindergarten. This area also includes student emergency fund grants to 21 area schools to help needy students.

Safety & Well-being: This focus area strives to build awareness, education and respect for the consequences of bullying; increase suicide prevention and awareness; and strengthen support and prevention programs This area will receive 20.8 percent of the grant funding ($74,500).

Hunger: This focus area will work to increase nutrition awareness and outreach; connect with vulnerable seniors, disadvantaged and/or persons with disabilities; and increase access to food. This area will receive 19.5 percent of the grant funding ($70,000).

Health: Increasing the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors, including maximizing self-sufficiency for seniors and people with disabilities is receiving 12.6 percent of the grant funding ($45,105).

Income (financial stability): Promoting financial stability and independence is receiving 10.5 percent of the grant funding ($37,500). This is targeted to help individuals and families move toward financial stability and for people in the community to have resources to overcome disasters and emotional or financial crises.

Special Community Projects Grants (SCPG): The purpose of these grants is to strengthen our commitment to activities or programs that are aligned with the UWSWMN Goals for the Common Good and are directed at development and support for area residents. 2014-2015 grant deadlines for SCPG’s will be Aug. 29, 2014, and Jan. 30, 2015. There will be $12,000 in grant funding available. In fiscal year 2013-14, $10,585 was awarded.

UWSWMN honored .2 percent in donor designated donations to out of area United Ways. For a complete list by program, please visit www.UnitedWaySWMN.org.

Volunteerism: More than 3,000 hours of time was logged in service hours this year directly benefiting the UWSWMN. In addition, UWSWMN coordinated/matched additional volunteers to projects benefiting community partner programs adding hundreds of hours of additional people power to the region.