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Roanoke Valley United Way Awards Grants to 53 Nonprofit Programs

The United Way of Roanoke Valley (UWRV) has awarded grants to 53 nonprofit programs that serve the residents of the Roanoke Valley.

The goal of this year’s community investment process was to create an impact in the three main focus areas of education, income and health. By focusing on these three priorities and investing funds in programs that align with them, UWRV hopes to solve root issues that affect the building blocks of a good life. The goals are that children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and later on in life, that individuals and families are financially stable and that all citizens of the Roanoke Valley lead healthier lives.

UWRV received 54 grant requests totaling more than $3 million.  More than 80 community volunteers spent over 1,200 hours reviewing program applications, conducting site visits and question and answer meetings with program staff, and deliberating at length as they conducted the program reviews to ensure that programs demonstrated the closest alignment to UWRV’s impact goals in the areas of education, income and health.

Volunteers were instructed to look at the funding process through a whole new lens and to not consider past allocation amounts, but instead to look at how each program fits in with UWRV’s new education, income and health impact areas. Each program was evaluated on alignment, program need, collaboration, outcome measurements, and the program’s financials and budget.

In addition to focusing on the three impact areas of education, income and health, UWRV will be using this transition as an opportunity to open the community investment process up to the community at large, making it a more competitive process for future funding. Of the 53 programs receiving funding, 26 programs were awarded varying increases from what they have received in the past.

“There are so many worthy programs in the Roanoke Valley and we would like to be able to fully fund all program requests,” said Wayne Strickland, Chair of the UWRV Community Impact Council and Executive Director of the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission. “The nonprofit organizations in the Roanoke Valley are making a great difference in our community; however, we have some very ambitious goals in the areas of education, income and health so we have to be extremely strategic in allocating funds now and well into the future.”

The hope is that the new funding system by UWRV ultimately will help local nonprofits work together and will allow the community to better track the progress of important community goals, however, the UWRV board members recognize that the new open process will leave gaps in some important community programs.

To help those programs that performed well but did receive lower funding, UWRV has set up a transition funding pool that has been specifically designed to reduce the potential impact of the funding loss resulting from the increased competition from this year’s process.  This one-year “assistance” is not meant to restore the program to its original funding level, but is there to help the agencies adjust to the new funding level and to step them down over the next 12 months.

“We have a great responsibility to be good stewards of the money that is donated to the United Way. It is our goal to make sure that every investment is utilized to support programs that are going to make the biggest impact in our community,” said Frank Rogan, President and CEO of UWRV. “This process is one of the main reasons why donors believe in our mission.”

Aside from investing in diverse programs that are making significant and positive impacts in the community, UWRV is putting resources towards coalition work, focused collaborations,  and volunteerism to make our community a better place to live. During fiscal year 2012-2013 a total of $2.972 million will be granted to these programs.

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