We are proud to announce that on June 20, our Board of Directors approved recommendations made by United Way volunteers to fund 33 local programs throughout Ulster County in the areas of child care, housing and emergency assistance, literacy training, mental health services, parent education, substance abuse prevention for youth, and vocational training. The programs are as varied as a summer camp program for elementary school children that focuses on reading, writing and nutrition, to an in-home support program for family caregivers to help them deal with the challenges of caring for a loved one full time. Over the past 25 years, United Way of Ulster County has allocated $12,500,000 to support local programs.
Program impact is a primary consideration for United Way. In order to receive United Way funding, programs must show that they are having a positive impact on the participants in at least one of the target areas listed above. Results are measured using evaluation tools like attendance records, specially designed surveys, report cards, and client logs. For instance, if an after school program has the objective of ensuring that program participants perform well academically by providing homework help, then the program can work collaboratively with the local school district to determine the student’s academic status. There are special surveys designed to measure improved parenting skills, reduced stress levels, the acquisition of vocational skills and a host of other behavioral outcomes. In addition to evaluation tools, site visits to all United Way funded programs are performed by United Way volunteers and staff after one-year of funding, and include a 1-2 hour interview with program staff, observation of programs in action, and a careful review of program documentation (including evaluation tools!).
“It turns out, that the programs we fund actually welcome our site visits,” said Stacey Rein, President and CEO. “They appreciate that our volunteers and staff are very knowledgeable about the programs they come to review, and that we see ourselves as partners in trying to provide the very best services possible,” she said. Michael Berg, Executive Director of Family of Woodstock concurs. “Family of Woodstock receives a tremendous amount of grant funding, and I can honestly say that the United Way’s evaluation process is probably the most comprehensive, and certainly the most collaborative. We actually like when they come for a visit,” he said.
United Way’s process for determining funding is special because it is driven primarily by community volunteers who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. Glynis Bunt, Central Hudson’s Senior Director-Cost, Rates, and Forecasts, has been a United Way volunteer for more than 20 years. “Being part of the United Way’s allocations process is a great experience because you get a bird’s eye view of where your donation is going and who is being helped. Each year I walk away confident that every dollar I donate to the United Way is supporting high quality programs making a real difference in people’s lives,” she said. Volunteer Sue Books, SUNY New Paltz Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning has been impressed with the broad reach of United Way funded programs, and enjoys the opportunity to participate in the review process. “I learn so much about the community and its needs being a United Way volunteer. And it is very gratifying to work with other community members committed to helping those in need,” she said.
Agencies receiving funding this year include the Arc Mid-Hudson, Boys and Girls Club, Center for Creative Education, Family of Woodstock, Family Services, Gateway Community Industries, Jewish Family Services, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, Mental Health Association, Resource Center for Accessible Living (RCAL), RUPCO, Ulster Community Action, Ulster Literacy Association, Worker Justice Center, YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County, and the YWCA.
“Family of Woodstock receives a tremendous amount of grant funding, and I can honestly say that the United Way’s evaluation process is probably the most comprehensive, and certainly the most collaborative. We actually like when they come for a visit.”