How Funds are Distributed

Through its community partnerships, and ongoing interactions with community leaders in the areas of aging, criminal justice, education, emergency assistance, mental health and health, planning, business, and social services, United Way assesses on an ongoing basis the barriers and challenges facing our most disadvantaged residents. At this time, indications are that the two greatest barriers to attaining family self-sufficiency are steady, gainful employment, and family stability; and that the following resources must be made available in order to eliminate these barriers:

  • Affordable day care, and after school programming.
  • “Family centered” mental health services
  • Housing, fuel, food, and income assistance to low-income families
  • Vocational, literacy, and life skills training targeted to entry level workers
  • Parent education
  • Substance abuse prevention programs for youth

Presently, all United Way funds are directed to these service areas either through our Community Fund, or Community Partnerships.


Decisions regarding who receives funding through our Community Fund are made by local community volunteers recruited and trained by United Way staff. Approximately 50 women and men, representing a wide spectrum of the community, are assigned to committees to review grant requests in the specific areas listed above. There is at least one “expert” assigned to each committee (a social worker on the Parenting Education Committee, for example) to assure a level of expertise. However, the strength of the Community Fund process depends on diverse points of view, and so representation from all sectors of our community is critical.

A “Guide to Proposal Review and Rating” developed by United Way instructs volunteers on the objective criteria that must be used when reviewing and rating proposals. It includes detailed information on how to judge: 1) Program Organization, 2) Program Activities & Objectives, 3) Program Evaluation, 4) Program Budget and 5) Other Similar Programs (to reduce duplication).

Programs funded through the Community Fund are evaluated by United Way staff and volunteers annually through site visits that include interviews with staff and participants, comprehensive review of program records, and observation of programs in action.


Community Partnerships are an outgrowth of needs identified by the community that are not being met by established agencies and programs because they either lack the resources, or the need is out of their purview. United Way plays a leading role in all Community Partnerships, providing administrative and marketing support, funds, and human resources (volunteers) as necessary and appropriate. Community Partnerships are evaluated based on documented evidence of numbers served, and outcomes achieved.