Harvest OKs 9.5k United Way grant

February 7, 2013

From Bulletin staff reports

The Harvest Foundation announced Wednesday it has approved a $9,500 Pick Up the Pace! (PUP) grant to the United Way of Henry County and Martinsville to support its transition from a traditional United Way model to a community impact model.

The grant will support a strategic planning process to include not only United Way staff and board of directors but also a series of community conversations, a release from Harvest said.

Tiffani Underwood, executive director of the United Way of Henry County and Martinsville, said the conversion involves changing the United Way’s role from “basically a fundraiser in the community” to focusing on topics relevant to the community.

“In the new community impact model, the United Way’s role changes slightly,” she said. “Fundraising is part of that, but instead of looking at partner agencies as sole mechanisms, we look at community issues.”

Though the United Way still will work with its partner agencies, the change in focus will allow it to use its funding to help any relevant agency or group to accomplish its goals. “It’s really more about bringing anybody who can change that issue around the table together,” Underwood said.

The idea of the community impact model began about 10 years ago, Underwood said, and the local United Way began talking about the process seven or eight years ago. Those discussions prompted the creation of the its community initiatives such as Smart Beginnings and the HOPE Coalition of Martinsville-Henry County.

“We’ve made some small shifts (where there were) gaps in the community where we could maybe step in and help,” Underwood said.

Though the discussion has been in the works for several years, Underwood said it’s “going to be a lengthy process” to bring the conversion to fruition, most likely over a period of a couple of years.

“Some background work, we have started to look at already,” she said, adding that the United Way is looking at its partner agencies and how they can work within the new model. The grant will allow for better organization of those discussions, Underwood said.

“With the PUP grant, we will be able to go into a true strategic planning process,” she said. The grant will help the United Way plan and hold planning sessions and community conversations as well as create the materials to promote those meetings, Underwood said.

“We really want to get the community’s viewpoint” on the issues and how they are affected, she said.

Though no specific dates have yet been set for the community conversations, Underwood said the goal is to hold several between March 11 and 22. The specifics on the meetings will be announced later, she said. The events will be open to the public.

Harvest’s PUP grants must relate to one or more of Harvest’s focus areas: health, education and community vitality, the release said. Recipients must be recognized nonprofits, religious institutions, government entities or “fiscal agents” acting for others, so long as the purpose is charitable, Harvest said. The grant was the sixth of 10 Harvest will award, Harvest Program Officer Angela Logan said.

“It is a pleasure to partner with United Way on a project that will help drive community change,” said Nancy Cox, Harvest Foundation director of programs. “By developing a strategic vision, with the community as a major partner, the United Way will be poised for greater opportunities to leverage funding to have a greater impact on the needs of the community.”


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