Following a five-month highly competitive process, United Way of the Ozarks (UWO) has a new community investment plan and a new line up to focus on Championing Children and creating Pathways Out of Poverty.
Beginning July 1, 21 grants will be awarded to 14 nonprofit partner organizations through United Way of the Ozarks’ new community investment plan.
“With the support of our Board, we have totally changed the process and focus of our community investment strategy,” said Greg Burris, UWO president and CEO. “For the first time in many years, we opened up the process to our nonprofit community to compete for two-year grants. We have taken a very targeted approach to solicit programs that will help our community’s most vulnerable – our children – and help break the cycle of generational poverty.”
Community investment donor-volunteers lead strategic selection process
Staffed by 60+ donor-volunteers, the process was led by the Community Investment Committee and managed through three Community Investment Panels. More than 35 written applications were received and funneled through a multi-stage vetting process that included video submissions and in-person presentations. Each step helped narrow the pool of programs that collectively will make the strongest impact on the community.
“This is really an exciting time,” said Cindy Norman, American National senior agent experience group analyst and co-chair of the Community Investment Committee. “I have been involved in the community investment process for a very long time and it’s great to see these changes. We all have very warm feelings about our nonprofit partners and we had to make some very difficult decisions. Our members take disbursing donor dollars very seriously.”
Ten nonprofit partners will cycle off UWO’s grant funding. Four nonprofit partners did not reapply; six applied but were not selected by the Community Investment Committee. Each of the six will receive a one-time payment of 50% of their current annual allocation as “transition” funding.
Future actions include developing impact metrics to show community outcomes of each funded program.
Investing in the future
UWO aims to support programs that prepare children and youth to succeed and move adults to stand on their own. The community investment strategy is structured in three categories:
- Upstream – funding that supports long-term plans to address the community’s core social challenges by:
- Eliminating achievement gaps to under-resourced and under-represented students.
- Providing access to education and workforce training.
- Preventing and responding to domestic violence.
- Helping improve parenting skills.
- Safety Net – services that support families and individuals in crisis.
- Innovation – fresh approaches to address persistent community needs or emerging challenges.
Programs receiving 2022-24 grant funding support either – or both – of UWO’s new focus areas targeted at Championing Children or creating Pathways out of Poverty. They are:
- Shape-Up Program – Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield
- Access to Mental Healthcare – Betty and Bobby Allison Ozarks Counseling Center
- Pediatric Therapies – Developmental Center of the Ozarks
- The Family Violence Center – Harmony House
- New Pathways for Good Dads – Good Dads
- Counseling and Education – The Victim Center
- Math and Reading Buddy Program – Council of Churches
- Lunch Buddies/Future Readiness Educational Enhancement Program – Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Reading Tutoring – Ozarks Literacy Council
- Capable Kids and Families – Community Partnership of the Ozarks
- Child Advocacy – CASA of Southwest Missouri
- Crisis Intervention and Advocacy – The Victim Center
- Ozarks Family Resource Center – Great Circle
- Community-Based Mentoring One-on-One – Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Centralized Case Management – Council of Churches
- Home Buying Program – Habitat for Humanity of Springfield
- Financial Assistance and Rosalie O’Reilly Wooten Children’s Fund – Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks
- One Door – Community Partnership of the Ozarks
- Under 35 Diagnostic Mammogram Program – Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks
- Shifting to Somatic Integration Processing in Mental Healthcare – Betty and Bobby Allison Ozarks Counseling Center
For more information on United Way of the Ozarks’ community investment process, please contact Greg Burris at 417-863-7700 or [email protected].