SPRINGFIELD – United Way of Central Illinois announces $1,633,827 of community funding to 38 local health and human service programs. This community investment was made possible by the generosity of more 7,000 individuals who designated their donation to United Way’s Community Fund during the 2013 campaign. 100% of every donation to the community fund is distributed to local agencies.
United Way continues to be the largest private funder of these programs in Sangamon County. This year, program funding requests totaled more than $2.8 million, with funding decisions made by 53 volunteers dedicating a combined 650 hours of service during the allocation process.
Community Fund Volunteers employ consistent, standardized methods to evaluate and ultimately fund those programs best positioned to improve educational opportunities and increase access in our community.
“United Way volunteers are asked evaluate programs based upon community needs, measurable outcomes, financial transparency and accountability,” said Dr. Harry Berman, retired provost and interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield. “Sound stewardship of donor dollars starts with United Way’s commitment to transparency and accountability, without that foundation we cannot build a stronger, more vibrant community.”
Volunteers evaluated a record number of Lifelong Learning Initiative applications during the funding process. Likewise, volunteers had fewer dollars available to allocate due to a decrease in the 2013 campaign.
“This year was especially challenging for Community Fund Volunteers,” said John Kelker, president of United Way of Central Illinois. “Our Lifelong Learning Initiative experienced a 30% increase in both the number of applications and dollar amount of funding requests, while having fewer dollars available.”
United Way mobilizes resources to benefit local programs aligned around education, food, shelter, healthcare and victim services; with every dollar donated to the community fund supporting such programs. At present, 58% of the allocations fund programs that provide food, shelter, healthcare and victim services (Essential Service programs). The balance of 42% funds programs providing skills and promoting lifelong learning beyond the classroom (Lifelong Learning Initiative).
United Way volunteers provided funding to 13 Lifelong Learning Initiative programs, including those from Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Illinois Capital Region, and UCP Land of Lincoln.
Three programs new to our community were provided funding for the first time this year. They are:
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois – Common Core Kids
Common Core Kids will introduce a new academic support program for children with developmental lags. The program will have certified teachers working alongside volunteers to improve reading and math performance, while improving attendance.
- Family Service Center – Ready for Tomorrow
Ready for Tomorrow is a collaboration between Family Service Center, Springfield School District 186, the MOSAIC Project, and Community Child Care Connection. Together, these agencies are responding to the overwhelming need for high quality early childhood programs in the Springfield area. They will work to improve the academic readiness for children birth to five and coordination of academic and support services for at-risk families.
- Springfield YMCA – Academic Enhancement Program
The YMCA is responding to rising poverty levels and the increased need of academic supports in the Ball-Chatham School District. The program will work to bring at-risk students in grades 3-5,up to grade level in reading and math.
“Our volunteers allocated $680,000 to Lifelong Learning Initiative programs this year, a little more than half the amount requested by local agencies,” said Kelker. “For this reason, our volunteers, agencies and staff will be working harder than ever to address unmet needs in our community.”
This year’s allocations included $950,000 in second-year funding to Essential Services programs. This amount includes a 3.23% decrease in funding to Essential Services programs.
“With United Way’s campaign down last year, we were concerned about the impact of fewer community fund dollars being available,” said Angela Bertoni, chief executive officer of Sojourn Shelter & Services. “Fortunately, the reduction is less than many of us feared and provides all of us an opportunity to discuss the vital role the community fund plays in supporting social services throughout our community.”
“We knew entering this year’s community fund process that our volunteers would face difficult decisions,” said Kelker. “Even though a down year is disappointing, it highlights the importance in all of us working together to build a more hopeful future, because we are all better united.”
For a complete list of program funding, please visit http://springfieldunitedway.org/our-work/community-fund/funded-programs/