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United Way of Washington County gives $854,060 to agencies, programs

Organization is asking for more accountability from those receiving grants

June 16, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

The United Way of Washington County awarded grants worth $854,060 to 21 community agencies to fund 27 programs.

A total of 29 local nonprofits requested nearly $1.68 million in grant money to fund 48 programs this year.

The United Way has changed the way the grants are distributed, part of a plan set in motion in 2009 that will make the disbursement “more targeted and more strategic,” said Melissa Reabold, executive director of the United Way of Washington County.

Reabold said that in the past, the United Way raised and gave out the money to its member agencies to fill revenue gaps.

The United Way has moved away from that model, Reabold said, and now the money is available as grants to any local health and human service nonprofits to fund specific programs.

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The agencies receiving the grants have to provide information to the United Way on how the money is being used and what results are being achieved.

Now, agencies have to request “community impact” grants for a specific program, Reabold said, and they have to let the United Way know, through quarterly reports, what results “we are getting out of the program.”

For example, the agency in charge of a tutoring program designed to help students graduate from high school will have to show how many students are graduating, Reabold said.

One reason for the change is that donors want to know how the money they donate is being used, she said.

Reabold said the grant money was given out in three key areas: education, income and health.

United Way officials said previously that the agency adopted goals for their three focus areas using the Strategic Community Impact Plan, or SCIP, developed in conjunction with Community Foundation of Washington County Md., Inc. and the community.

The SCIP program is the result of a collaborative effort to identify the most pressing health and human-service needs, as well as arts, culture and tourism, jobs and economic development, civic engagement and education in Washington County. The effort included the identification and prioritization of needs, as well as the development of goals and strategies to assist the community in having an impact upon those needs.

“We want to be able to invest in solutions,” she said.

She said the United Way wants to find out about results, outcomes and impacts of the programs it funds.

The grants, according to a news release from the United Way, are awarded for a six-month period. If the agency meets its goals as stated in its grant application, the rest of the grant is provided in the next six months.

“That award is dependent on the agency meeting its outcomes as stated in the grant application and whether or not the 2013 campaign goes as successfully as the past year’s campaign,” according to the release.

Community agencies are being encouraged to work together, Reabold said.

The release notes that “applications featuring partnerships and collaborative efforts were strongly encouraged” during the current cycle of funding.

Reabold said a community organization could direct a person it is helping to another program in a different agency.

“We are all for partnering together,” Reabold said.

For instance, the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, which received a grant, is partnering with the Town of Williamsport and the Washington County Community Action Council for a summer program for children called Williamsport Summer Enhancement.

Reabold said the United Way’s goal was to be able to help residents of the county, “so that they become productive members of society.”

Where did the money go?

The total award amounts listed in the three categories below exceed the grant amount of $854,060 listed elsewhere. That’s because the grants cross over two campaign years, according to Melissa Reabold, executive director of United Way of Washington County.
United Way of Washington County awarded Community Impact grants in three categories to the following agencies in support of their programs:

Education: Total awarded was $373,390, focusing on academics, social competence and family support to create a cohesive plan to address educational needs from birth through adulthood. 

  • Boys & Girls Club (three grants) — Project Smart, Williamsport Summer Enhancement, and Afterschool & Summer Enhancement
  • Children in Need — Client monthly visits
  • Friends of Safe Place — Real Care Shaken Baby
  • Girls Inc. — Grow a Girl
  • HARC — Micah’s Backpack
  • Mason Dixon-Boy Scouts — STEM
  • United Way of Washington County — Summer Learning Loss
  • YMCA — Child care
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