SJ-R Column: Workplace efforts support annual campaign

As originally published in the The State Journal Register.

United Way of Central Illinois’ annual campaign is reaching its most active point with multiple companies that have already run or are currently running workplace campaigns. The theme of this year’s campaign, under the leadership of Campaign Chair Ginny Conlee, is “Be a Game Changer.” The campaign will raise funds for United Way’s community-identified priorities. Those priorities are to provide services vital to the immediate basic needs of the most vulnerable members of our community, while making long term investments in education, financial stability and health because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life.


To the companies and individuals that have already made contributions: Thank you! To people who are currently at companies that are starting their workplace campaigns, thank you for your future contributions.


For those unfamiliar with United Way, the campaign presents an opportunity to assist members of our community in need of health and human services. Companies can run employee giving campaigns or host special events. And as individuals we can all support our community through United Way. Please consider making a gift to the 2019 campaign, which runs through the end of the calendar year. Donations can be made at: www.springfieldunitedway.org.


All gifts are important. Every dollar given to United Way stays local. Thanks to corporate underwriting, 100% of every donation goes directly to the funded programs. Donating to United Way provides the most effective way to support multiple local programs working together to improve our community.


As United Way’s annual campaign is coming to a close and thanks to the generosity of thousands, The United Way Board of Directors is pleased to announce the release of our Request for Applications (RFA) for the upcoming funding cycle (2020–2023) in the four priority areas of Basic Needs, Education, Financial Stability, and Health, as well as a new area, Cross Issue programming.


Specifically, United Way is seeking to fund programs that focus on providing a safety net of food and shelter; helping children learn, achieve and succeed while engaging families and communities; providing individuals and families the skills and information needed to live financially stable lives; and programs activating members in our community to get healthy and stay healthy. Through review and evaluation of the applications, United Way will provide funding to high-quality human service programs aligned with the priorities and strategies outlined under each issue area.


A successful campaign will result in approximately $1.5 million being allocated to support approved programs. That level of funding makes United Way of Central Illinois the largest funder of health and human service programs in Sangamon and Menard Counties.


United Way conducts community conversations and listening sessions before each funding cycle to discuss the community’s aspirations, hopes and needs. The feedback from those conversations is used by United Way’s Vision Councils to ensure the funds are going to the priorities and strategies that are needed most.


Over the past several years community conversation participants have repeatedly described challenges that cut across multiple priority areas. Examples of these challenges include “children can’t learn if they are hungry,” “mental health stands in the way of any success,” “we can’t address health care without addressing housing,” and many more. While each issue area’s strategies do well on their own, we know in order to address the complexities of the problems stated above and the overwhelming circumstances many of our individuals and families face in Sangamon and Menard Counties we need to allow and support programs that have the ability to demonstrate deep success for their clientele across issue areas by approaching their problems in a holistic way. Therefore, for the upcoming funding cycle United Way will make funds available to support programs that address more than one priority area.


Our community entrusts United Way to use donations to meet community needs in an effective and efficient manner. United Way takes its responsibility seriously to ensure all gifts are used properly and programs will provide measurable outcomes.


We hope our local companies, organizations and individuals will join us in our campaign. We also invite you to help us spread the word about United Way’s funding opportunities. Working together we can build a more hopeful future for everyone in our community.


To learn more about our funding process and how to get involved, please visit www.springfieldunitedway.org.


Harry J. Berman, Ph.D., is a member of the board of United Way of Central Illinois and Chair of the Community Impact–Investments Committee.

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