United Way announces $4.1 million community initiative
A new approach at the United Way of Greater
Richmond & Petersburg will bring $4.1 million in Community Impact
Grants to 63 programs at 48 agencies in the Richmond area next year.
The grants announced today, which range from $25,000
to $289,000, grew out of a new grant-making process that was open to
everyone and had no guarantees that anyone would continue to receive
funding from previous years.
The United Way had announced its new Community Impact
Plan and open funding model last August. Since then, the United Way and
90 volunteers have considered 141 initial letters of intent requesting
more than $13 million, requested full proposals on 78 programs
requesting $7.6 million and selected 63 programs to receive the
available $4.1 million in funding. The 2,300 volunteer hours also
included reviewing financial statements to help determine capability to
handle new projects and visiting applicants to assess their programs.
Some of the new recipients were ecstatic.
"This is monumental,” said Sheree Hedrick, executive
director of Hanover Safe Place, which will receive $85,000 to create a
financial education program for victims of domestic abuse. The program
will operate through the domestic violence rapid rehousing program,
which is based in Hanover but serves all of Richmond’s suburban
"For a small agency like ours, that is a significant
level of support. ... We’re really excited to do this work in our
community,” Hedrick said.
The United Way had set goals of making an impact in three areas: education, income and health.
The application from Hanover Safe Place related to
all three, and it also illustrated a common thread that the United Way
discovered in each of the areas: "the disruptive force of violence in
the lives of individuals and families has lasting effects and cannot be
Hedrick said her organization was "just so grateful
for the United Way recognizing the need of domestic violence victims and
how important the anti-violence work is. ... Oftentimes our work does
go unrecognized because it’s so under the radar. We don’t get to talk
about success stories because it’s confidential. For them to recognize
it is so exciting.”
Key findings in the United Way research were divided into six areas:
Child care: Affordable, quality child care programs are scarce for low-income families with children.Home
visitation: Home visiting, as a model, is a proven and effective
intervention for combating poverty and preventing child abuse.Program
quality: High-quality programs drive youth engagement and outcomes in
after-school programs which fill the hours when school-aged children are
most at risk.Homelessness: Homeless young adults who do not meet the federal definition of homelessness are a rising trend.Rapid rehousing: The program works to help individuals find and maintain stable, affordable housing.Social
isolation: Low-income older adults are at risk of social isolation and
need earlier response from health and human services organizations.
Home visitation is at the core of Family Lifeline,
which received the largest grants — $289,000 for early childhood home
visitation in the Greater Richmond area; $125,000 for early childhood
home visitation in Petersburg; and $125,000 for volunteer visitation to
homes of older adults or people with disabilities.
Work with parents in their homes uses the Parents as
Teachers model, said Amy Strite, president and CEO of Family Lifeline.
Participation is free and voluntary.
"It’s a real testament that parents let us into their
homes every day,” she said. "I never met a parent who doesn’t want
better for their child. They want to be good parents and may not have
tools or support to do that. That’s where we come in.”
Corinne Freeman contacted the group when her first
child was 6 months old and she discovered she was pregnant with twins.
She and Aaron Young, their father, felt overwhelmed. This spring, they
were honored at the group’s annual luncheon. They’ve stabilized their
lives, moved from government housing into a new home, and switched roles
so that Freeman works and Young stays home with the children. Everyone
"I look at it like this,” Young said on a video for
the luncheon, "you can’t go wrong with doing something for your
children. I mean, it’s going to be a win-win situation.”
In the grants from United Way, $2.2 million is going
to programs to address school readiness, social and emotional
development and engagement, and academic success of youth; $972,000 to
address stable and affordable housing and household sustaining
employment; and $902,000 to address lifelong wellness and healthy aging,
quality care and caregiver supports for older adults and people with
About a quarter of the grants, a total of $1,036,000,
was directed to "helping residents in our community live violence-free
lives” by preventing child abuse and providing counseling and services
in domestic violence situations.
The United Way campaign last year raised a little
over $13 million, but about half of that amount was designated to go to
specific charities instead of into the general fund, said Barry Taylor,
interim CEO of the United Way. "All we do is cut the check and send it
to the agency. It does not fall under the auspices of all the research
and work and volunteer participation where we decide how that money goes
out. It’s a bit frustrating for United Way,” Taylor said.
"What you’re finding is the money we get to keep and
direct as we see best has been declining. The decline is not as great,
but it’s still in decline mode, and we’d like to bring that out. Part of
that is to explain ourselves a little more to bring more awareness of
exactly what we do.”
This year’s campaign officially ends June 30.
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