Grant program improves community health and supports United Way's mission

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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Contributor: Mary Rhode, VP of Marketing & Communications, United Way Fox Cities

Since our beginning, over 70 years ago, United Way Fox Cities has supported the community in many ways. Dollars collected from our donors are invested in over 100 programs, initiatives, and grants. 

Prior to funding approval, grants must go through a vetting process to make sure they align with United Way’s four quality of life goals:

  • Children and youth are on track to reach their full potential.
  • Individuals and families are financially stable.
  • Children are free of abuse and neglect.
  • Children, youth, and adults are healthy.

Our grant program consists of two categories: general and innovative. 

General grants fund unexpected agency needs, capacity building or another short-term need impacting service delivery. Applications are accepted twice per year and must demonstrate a contribution to at least one quality of life goal.

Innovative grants fund an underlying cause of an identified community need. Applications are accepted once per year. Applications must demonstrate a contribution to at least one quality of life goal and address a strategy of that particular goal. 

To learn more about our grant application requirements, visit our website.

In 2019, United Way funded just over $345,000 in grants. Typically, we invest in 10-20 grants per year, totaling $300,000 to $1 million, contingent on how many applications are submitted and what dollar amount is being asked for. 
Do you ever wonder how your donations to United Way make a difference? Below are three examples of grants we funded this past year to improve our community’s health. 

Community Clothes Closet
Adult steel toe work boots

The Community Clothes Closet applied for a $10,000 grant to purchase steel toe footwear for their clients. They receive many requests throughout the year from job seekers who are required to own a pair of steel toe work boots for their new job. For those just starting out in factories, warehouses, restaurants, and construction jobs, they may not have the funds to purchase costly footwear that is required. Having proper footwear can be a barrier to getting hired or maintaining employment. The grant provided by United Way was used to purchase 128 pairs of boots and has helped eliminate that barrier. 

“We are thrilled to offer this resource on behalf of the men and women who are entering the workforce. Clients are able to gain financial independence so they can provide for themselves and their families. A huge thank you to United Way Fox Cities for sharing our vision! We’ve received many positive comments from our clients and we are confident that the impact these boots will make will be great!”
– Diane MacDonald, Executive Director, Community Clothes Closet

Volunteer Fox Cities
Older adult community volunteer outreach program

This program is a collaboration between Volunteer Fox Cities and St. Paul Elder Services. The program is designed to connect community volunteers with older adults who may be living in isolation. The program was awarded a grant of $10,000 and the funds have been used to provide elder match services as well as a service called TeleCare which is a friendly, twice-a-week phone call to a home-bound individual.

“Funding from United Way for our elder match program means that we are able to recruit more volunteers who are matched with older adults living in their home, reducing their isolation and helping them to develop and maintain a healthy, safe, and independent life.”
– Susan Vanden Heuvel, Executive Director, Volunteer Fox Cities

Community Early Learning Center
Year four for mindfulness-based kindness project for families with three- to five-year-old’s

The Community Early Learning Center (CELC) is a multi-agency facility that focuses on families of young children, especially those experiencing poverty or other unhealthy stressors. Over the course of four years, a mindfulness-based Kindness Curriculum from Healthy Minds Innovations at UW-Madison is being implemented at CELC with grant funding from United Way. Thus far, results of the project have demonstrated positive impact and value of the mindfulness-based Kindness Curriculum as well as improved socio-emotional test scores for children, improved mindful skills for parents, and less stress and burnout for teachers. 

“We are deeply grateful for United Way Fox Cities’ commitment to our Kindness Project. This generous grant has supported implementation of mindfulness-based family activities and a Kindness Curriculum for hundreds of children; allowed us to assess the impact of mindfulness programming on the well-being of children, parents, and teachers; and facilitated expansion of mindfulness programming throughout our early-childhood community. Parent feedback has been feelings of gratitude for teaching them how to transmit calm to their children as well as providing them opportunities to learn ways to feel more joyful in life. Thank you, United Way Fox Cities, for taking such good care of our children, families, and teachers!”
– Miriam Boleyn-Fitzgerald, mindfulness coach; Beth Haines and Kathy Immel, co-managers, CELC Kindness Project

Thank you for helping us continue to build a stronger, more caring community.