COLUMBIA — The Heart of Missouri United Way Inc. launched its annual campaign Friday morning at The Tiger Hotel. The organization is shooting for $4 million in contributions to fund its new “Community Impact” mission.
In the past, the United Way contributed funds to 31 agencies. With the new approach, funding is open to all nonprofits in the area. Any program that feels they have the ability to help the United Way reach its goals has a chance at funding.
“There are a group of about 75 experts in our community that are reviewing those programs and determining which ones have the strongest likelihood of success in meeting those goals,” Mitzi Clayton, Campaign Chair for the United Way, said.
The four priorities of the 2012 United Way campaign, outlined in a video, are:
- Education: Preparing students to enter kindergarten, improving the third-grade reading level and increasing middle school success.
- Income: Increasing employment skills, making transportation and child care readily available and affordable, educating about money management and providing affordable housing.
- Health: Instructing all about healthy life choices, increasing exercise and health care, and reducing teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and smoking.
- Safety net: Providing for basic needs, and increasing social services that address domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.
The organizations selected will receive funding for 3 to 5 years and will be required to show their results at the end of the funding period.
“We need to see the outcomes," Clayton said. "We don’t need to just see how many people you are serving, but the dynamics of those people. Are they changing? Are we reducing the need, not just fulfilling the present need?”
The new campaign has changed the relationship between the United Way and Columbia Public Schools. The schools have supported the United Way through various sponsorships in years past, but are now more directly involved as active partners. This new relationship can help the United Way collect hard figures on the effectiveness of their programs through the Columbia Public School system.
“We’re going to get more data and more information from them and really be able to track kids and what kind of impact we are making on their lives,” said Charlie Aldrich, who is working on the campaign.
The $4 million goal is a half million dollars more than last year’s campaign goal.
“If we want 4.0 effort from our youth, we should expect no different from the community,” Clayton said.
Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.