Beginning in July, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley will award $30 million in grants to 160 area nonprofits, reflecting a new approach to funding based on community goals.
The funds will be distributed over three years to partner organizations that meet goals in target issue areas outlined by the United Way.
Last August, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV) outlined specific community goals and objectives for its partner organizations to follow in the areas of healthy child development, family financial stability, and increasing youth opportunities.
In the Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley region, more than 1,000 businesses and 6,000 donors contributed funding toward the United Way’s pledge of $30 million to area nonprofits. The organization is redistributing existing funds to cover this pledge.
When the United Way announced its goals and objectives last summer, more than 200 organizations in Greater Boston and Merrimack Valley were eligible to apply for funding. Various community leaders, volunteers, and donors met with United Way staff last fall to review the organizations that applied. The group evaluated each organization based on its governance, fiscal accountability, and capacity to contribute to the United Way’s long-term goals. After the review process, 160 organizations were selected as United Way partner organizations and granted three years of funding.
This year’s multi-million funding will support intervention or treatment to nearly 10,000 children at risk for behavioral issues or developmental delays, provide academic support to more than 21,500 youth, and help more than 10,000 families retain permanent housing and more than 5,000 people gain employment, according to Meghan Keaney Anderson, UWMBMV director of communications.
The grants to be made in July reflect a paradigm shift the organization made in 2007, said Anderson. A that time the United Way moved from a funding model based on historical relationships with its organizations to one which connects its funding of organizations to specific community goals and measurements. The United Way redesigned its investments proportionally to the outcomes of partner organizations.
The United Way now bases its grants to provider organizations on their ability to drive progress and meet defined sets of goals in its issue areas. This next stage in funding will help improve program quality and coordination.
“We believe that the organizations we funded are in the best position to help us make progress against our community impact goals of ensuring children enter school ready to learn, youth stay engaged in school and graduate ready to compete, and families achieve financial stability,” said Anderson.
For example, the United Way will no longer just measure the quality of after school programs in its network, but will track how many youths in programs sponsored by the organization advance from grade-to-grade, she said.
The funding “will enable the organization to bolster successful programs, adjust funding to those not reaching goals, and drive a greater impact across the region,” said UWMBMV President and CEO Michael K. Durkin in a statement.
Last year, The Boston Foundation also announced a change in the way it would provide grants, moving from a purely programmatic approach to providing grantees with general operating support.
Note: Originally published May 2010 on massnonprofit.org