FY19-21 community investments announced

On May 15, United Way’s board of directors unanimously approved the allocation of $1.5 million to support a new portfolio of local programs that address five community-defined priorities: advancing employment, reducing substance abuse, meeting basic needs (housing, food, transportation and health care), supporting families and promoting mental health. These priorities were determined through an extensive outreach and community engagement process that began in the fall of 2015. The previous program funding cycle ended in the spring of 2017, and previous grantees were extended one additional year of funding through the new selection process.

A combined 51 local programs serving three counties will receive funding for a three-year commitment, beginning July 1, 2018:

Key Strategy: Annual Investment

Advancing Employment: $179,000

Reducing Substance Abuse: $236,000

Meeting Basic Needs (HOUSING): $169,000

Meeting Basic Needs (FOOD): $200,000

Meeting Basic Needs (TRANSPORTATION): $17,000

Meeting Basic Needs (HEALTH CARE): $162,000

Supporting Families: $320,000

Promoting Mental Health: $217,000

Total: $1,500,000


United Way of Northwest Vermont received 109 applications totaling more than $4 million. This was the first open application process held by UWNWVT in as many as 10 years, opening the program funding applications to all nonprofit organizations in our community.

“United Way believes strongly in the core value of inclusion and equity,” said CEO Jesse Bridges. “Allowing the many nonprofits doing amazing work in our community to apply for funding was one way to make sure this next funding cycle heard from our evolving network of partners. We knew this would mean change and have been in conversation with our partners throughout the process and will continue to be moving forward.”

The program funding decisions are recommended by the Community Impact Team, a diverse group of highly engaged community volunteers representing all three counties in UWNWVT’s service area. Their review and recommendations are then approved and recommended to the full board of directors by a board committee that also includes additional community volunteers involved in various sectors. Final funding decisions are made through a vote of the board of directors. The volunteers undertake the process of extensively reviewing each application and evaluating its alignment with each of UWNWVT’s five key strategies and its potential for addressing the community’s most pressing needs. Based on available funds and the high volume of applications received, only about one-third of applications were chosen to receive program funding.

“I support and appreciate the work and leadership that our volunteers provided over the last year to ensure that we met as many needs as we could with the dollars we had available,” said Tammy Johnson, board chair. “There is no shortage of programs that provide significant support for so many in our community.”

“Being a part of UWNWVT's open call for investment process has been an incredible opportunity to observe the organization's commitment to its donors, volunteer-led processes and the communities it serves in action,” said Christine Lloyd-Newberry, co-chair of UWNWVT’s volunteer Community Impact Team.

“As a donor, I couldn't be more confident in the way my dollars are stewarded by UWNWVT and its volunteers. As much as the committee would have loved to fund all of the program requests, that wasn't an option. From the list of highly deserving, effective programs, we identified ones that best addressed UWNWVT's key strategies, and where donors’ money will have greatest impact. After being a part of the agonizing process of identifying programs to fund, there is no question I will increase my annual giving. I could not be more confident in and proud of the rigor of the process or the programs funded,” said Christine.

UWNWVT invests in the community in a number of ways, with program funding investments being the single largest annual line item in the overall budget. Other investment areas include strategic initiatives, engagement and collaboration, and volunteer mobilization. UWNWVT leverages community campaign contributions to put additional resources back into the community. In Fiscal Year 2019, UWNWVT will invest almost $4 million in the community, leveraging grants to help address transportation issues for older adults, providing resource coordination and innovation in the workplace, as well as coordinating volunteers throughout the community. In addition to the direct budget impact, UWNWVT leveraged almost $900,000 in volunteer hours throughout the community. UWNWVT also invests directly in Vermont 211, connecting our community with the vital resources provided by all Vermont nonprofits.

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Becca Burns