Mission: United Way's purpose is to improve people's lives by raising funds from over 20,000 donors and partnering with multiple agencies to collaborate, fund programs, and identify solutions that address Basic Needs, Health, Income, and Education. Funding is based on meeting a community need, measurable outcomes and good stewardship. United Way ranks 96th out of 1,250 United Way's nationwide for total dollars raised.
Programs: Allocation servicesunited ways community investment process funds programs that improve conditions for individuals and families. All programs must address one of united ways four priority areas: basic needs (food, clothing, shelter); income (having enough money to pay for todays necessities and save a little for tomorrow); education (supporting children and youth and ensuring they graduate high school on-time, ready for college or to join the workforce) and health (ensuring children and adults are healthy and able to be productive in school and/or work). We believe these four priority areas are the building blocks for a good life. Through the generous contributions of local donors, we fund local programs that promote collaboration, efficiency, innovation, and accountability. Annually, more than 70 volunteers who represent a cross section of the community form nine teams for the purpose of evaluating each program requesting funds. This evaluation is based on a written application and a site visit. The key criteria in the evaluation are 1) does the program meet a community need; 2) does the program achieve results for the people it serves; and 3) does it demonstrate good stewardship (in both financial accountability and organizational management/governance). For the 2014 fiscal year, united way had 27 community partners and funded 50 programs. The programs funded by united way served more than 200,000 persons in the chattahoochee valley. Below are several selected outcomes that demonstrate the results achieved through investing in united way: 3,548 children were served a hot evening meal in a community setting, providing them with food and nutrition necessary for their health and well-being. More than 400 children who were physically and/or sexually abused received counseling and supportive services to help them cope with the situation and improve personal functioning. More than 900 children, who are impoverished, considered to be at risk and participated in a reading and/or tutoring program advanced to the next grade level. 80 families that participated in a family engagement program increased involvement with their childs school and education.
united way programsvitaunited way is a member of a local coalition, now called river valley vita coalition that promotes access to free income tax preparation for low to moderate individuals and families. Taxpayers earning up to $52,000 in 2013 were able to file their taxes at a local site and receive volunteer assistance; taxpayers earning up to $58,000 could access free tax preparation assistance online and file both local and state taxes for free. In addition to providing free tax preparation assistance, this program also ensures that tax payers receive all eligible credits, especially earned income tax credit (eitc) and child tax credit (ctc) without paying expensive processing fees offered by commercial entities. This year, vita served 4,075 tax papers which resulted in a total of $5,335,890 in refund dollars back to our community. Youth programsunited way is focused on helping youth develop as leaders, learn about community needs, increase community involvement and develop an understanding of the role of nonprofit organizations in our community. In 2009, united way established the live united youth camp and in 2012, we established the live united youth council. Live united youth camp is a three day event for local 7th grade students where they gain knowledge about community needs, volunteer, begin to develop as leaders and learn how they can help make a difference in our community. In 2014, 19 7th graders attended the camp and had an experience that will last a lifetime. In addition to the three day camp, the students conducted a food drive and are continuing to participate in volunteer projects. Wlcthe womens leadership council (wlc) is a local affinity group comprised of women leadership donors in our community. This group of women focuses their efforts on the platform of women helping women. After meeting with several service providers who serve the needs of women in our community, we found that there is a true need for undergarments and foundation pieces. In november of 2013, united ways womens leadership council hosted wear one, bring one, the 2nd annual power of the purse luncheon. Attendees were asked to bring an undergarment donation to the event. We collected 1,360 items. In addition, more than $3,500 was raised to fund the undergarment voucher program, which provides vouchers for women in need through a partnership with goodwill industries of the southern rivers and jc penney co. Home for goodhome for good program was created in partnership with the housing authority of columbus, ga (hacg) to develop housing for the homeless. The project is a major component of the housing authoritys moving to work application to hud and it includes a mix of housing options for rapid re-housing (short-term assistance) and permanent supportive housing. To date:$1. 5 million dollar lead gift has been secured by a local benefactor. Hacg (in collaboration with new horizons community service board) is providing thirty housing subsidy vouchers for housing families and individuals experiencing homelessness. The georgia department of behavioral health and developmental disability has committed 100 housing vouchers to be utilized for reducing chronic homelessness.
united way volunteer centerthe united way volunteer center exists to increase volunteerism in the community. The volunteer center connects individuals and groups with agencies in need of volunteers on both an on-going basis and for specific projects. In addition to the more than 1600 individual volunteers that were connected to agencies and their volunteer opportunities online, the program also provides a corporate volunteer program that coordinates volunteer opportunities for teams. During the 2014 fiscal year there were 36 corporate volunteer projects engaging 364 volunteers for 1,011 hours.