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Published: Sunday, June 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Viewpoints


Thanks to the community, 107 programs get funding

As this year's United Way Board Chair and Campaign Chair we are very excited about some new investments United Way is about to make back into our community. We are talking about $7.9 million which will be invested in 107 local social service programs over the next three years.
United Way is able to do this because of strong support from our community and a year-long commitment from our volunteers. Over the past 12 months, 53 volunteers spent 2,500 hours studying the community, identifying 13 priority investment areas, and reviewing 154 proposals. This commitment of $7.9 million over three years will be to a variety of critical programs managed by 40 different agencies in 23 communities throughout Snohomish County.
These 53 volunteers are your neighbors. They're your colleagues. They're aerospace workers, educators, bankers, researchers, union members, law enforcement officers, state, county and city employees, navy personnel and community volunteers. They are passionate about their work and bring a level of expertise that is much appreciated. All of them share the same goal of improving the lives of the people who live here in Snohomish County and advancing the common good.
Your contributions to United Way of Snohomish County -- whether through a campaign at your office, a corporate gift, or an individual donation through our website -- were in their very capable hands. At United Way, our volunteers make all of the funding decisions. They did a great job.
These volunteers began their work by analyzing what was going on in our community, and determining the areas of greatest need. Were there certain trends? Were the needs of our community changing? How were our children doing? Were the number and types of immigrants changing? Was language or cultural isolation a problem? What about hunger and homelessness? Health care? Were seniors getting the services they need? Were people with disabilities feeling a sense of isolation? Was the lack of transportation in certain areas a barrier to accessing services?
After hearing from experts on these issues and in the areas of health care delivery, early learning, the needs of seniors, changing demographics and more, our volunteers identified 13 priority investment areas. They knew that your contributions would have the biggest impact in these specific priority investment areas. Our volunteers even identified two new areas that warranted targeted investments: programs that address the needs of crime victims and the needs of the underinsured and uninsured.
We are very excited about the 107 programs that United Way will be funding over the next three years. While some of the funded programs have received funding from United Way in the past, others are new. Each proposal received the same level of scrutiny and had the same chance of being funded. The 107 funded programs will serve people living in 23 communities throughout Snohomish County from Stanwood and Darrington in the North, Sultan and Gold Bar in the East and in the larger cities along Interstate 5. Volunteers gave careful consideration to vulnerable populations, geographic diversity and programs that address critical gaps of services to the community. Congratulations to all of our newly funded program partners. To see all thirteen of the priority investment areas and where the investments were made, you can visit the United Way of Snohomish County website at www.uwsc.org.
Making the specific funding decisions was hard. The needs in our community are widespread. While this $7.9 million in targeted investments represents a $300,000 increase over the last three-year cycle, many strong programs that align with our priority investment areas did not get funded for the simple reason that we still did not have enough money. If we had additional funds, we could have done even more.
Along with these future investments, United Way also works with community partners to launch initiatives and collaborations that will create a lasting impact, addressing the root causes of a problem. Some of these include our free tax preparation centers; work with the Snohomish County Asset Building Coalition; our education initiatives in Marysville and Lake Stevens and our efforts to support the development of English language learner curricula. Whether we're addressing immediate needs or the root causes of a problem, our overall goals remain the same: ensuring the optimal social and emotional development of our children, seeing that our families are financially stable and building healthy communities. These are the building blocks for a good quality of life.
These funding decisions are not the end of the process; in some ways, it is just the beginning. Over the next three years, we will continue to work with each of the agencies that received funding for specific programs. We will follow up to ensure your money is being invested wisely and that the programs are achieving their desired outcomes. We are very excited about these investments, and will look for new and creative ways to raise money so that we can do even more three years from now.
Dr. David Beyer is the President of Everett Community College and 2013 Board Chair for United Way of Snohomish County. Jon Nehring is the Mayor of the city of Marysville and is the 2013 Campaign Chair for United Way.
Story tags » Charity

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Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

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