United Way program funding up 15 percent

Jenni Marsh, President and CEO at United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties, Indiana

Jenni Marsh, President and CEO at United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties, Indiana

United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties is increasing its funding of Delaware County programs by 15 percent thanks to hugely successful campaigns the last two years, and new programs that focus on improving grade-level reading and programs that address barriers toward that goal.

Since 2014, United Way has invested half its dollars in Delaware County toward educational programs. It’s a focus that addresses United Way’s primary goal of ending generational poverty.

“We have a very precise goal and we are delighted to be able to support programs that moves us closer to achieving that goal through this incredibly competitive grant-making process,” said Jenni Marsh, president and CEO of United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties.

The new two-year funding cycle earmarks just over $800,000 going to fund 28 programs in 23 Delaware County organizations.

United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties is strategically investing in organizations that have programming which address these key community touch points:

  • Children are born healthy and ready for kindergarten

  • There is out-of-school learning support community-wide

  • Young people reach graduation and post-secondary experiences

  • The community is filled with thriving individuals and families

  • People are living healthy, independent lives

  • Safety net services address and prevent traumatic childhood experiences

United Way is strategic in how it invests the community’s campaign gifts. Based on responses from community members, improving education is the single most important focus to address generational poverty. United Way funds organizations that are committed to this goal.

 In addition, UWDHC is providing more scholarships this round – up 21 percent - to families to send their child to high-quality childcare centers. “This increase represents the largest increase for a single objective,” Marsh said.

New to United Way this year is funding for:

  • Forward S.T.E.P.S., a program at Second Harvest Food Bank that provides holistic support for struggling working families to become financially stable.

  • Inside/Out’s Fresh Directions program, which provides the community’s w most vulnerable populations with nutritious and delicious meals and snacks through out of school programs.

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates’ Family Recovery Court program, which helps parents with drug-related charges overcome barriers and be reunited with their children.  

United Way’s grant-making is a rigorous process and it is highly competitive, Marsh said.

Programs that qualify for United Way funding must address one of three areas – education, financial stability, or health and must be able to explain how they serve families who need them most. “We want to support the household not just the programs. Helping families get on track financially and live healthy independent lives gives the whole family wrap around resources while we work with partners to make sure their children are on track for success in school and life. This strategic and holistic approach is how the community can truly begin to end generational poverty,” explained Director of Impact Jim Flatford.

This year, 19 outside reviewers independently vetted all applications, then met collectively with United Way staff, to prepare a funding recommendation. Anyone involved in the process must be free of any conflict or personal influence over any of the organizations they review. 

In addition to funding 28 programs run by local nonprofits, UWDHC is running its own direct service programs to ensure all third graders will be reading at grade level - the single greatest indicator of a child’s success in school and life.

Summer Book Give Away, Reading Clubs, Read United and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are a few of the programs run by United Way staff. In addition to funding $801,830 to local nonprofits, UWDHC will spend almost $400,000 addressing gaps in grade level reading support, as well as supporting the development of Delaware County’s nonprofits and the community’s access to them. UWDHC is also granting out over $125,000 in donor designated gifts to specified nonprofits throughout the community.

Since 1925, the Delaware County community has given more than $275 million, in today’s dollars, to provide a lifeline to its neighbors in need. To conquer generational poverty, UWDHC has adopted the bold goal that by 2024 all Delaware County third graders will be reading at grade level. Donor support is strategically invested in local programs to help put children on a pathway out of poverty through better educational outcomes.  United Way in Delaware County has raised nearly $3 million over the last two years. Each of the campaigns in 2017 and 2018 surpassed its goal.