United Way of Central Alberta held an appreciation event for their funded agencies, celebrating the direct impact changes those agencies make in communities.
“The emphasis still is on demonstrating impact in the community, the difference we are making in a community, moving people forward from their situation into a more positive situation and breaking the cycle of poverty,” said United Way of Central Alberta CEO Robert Mitchell.
Three new agencies are going to be receiving funding for community programs.
These agencies include Cosmos Community Support Services, Family Services of Central Alberta and the Red Deer Native Friendship Society. These businesses have created new programs that align with a new funding model that focuses on income, education and wellness.
“These are key, new things that we really want to support, so we’re really pleased about that,” said Mitchell.
The income portion of the new funding model focuses on moving citizens out of poverty and into possibilities such as affordable housing, employment and skills development.
Education is about “Getting kids to be all they can be,” said Mitchell. Organizations funded under this mandate include Boys & Girls Clubs and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
The third focus is wellness. Wellness means creating awareness in communities, and developing strong ties between community members and funded businesses as well as ensuring United Way can visit the communities they are working in.
Over the last year, United Way has raised over $2.2 million – their highest amount of money raised in a year. This amount of money is likely due to increased attempts at clarity of programs/funding and awareness for communities, officials say.
“We’ve been emphasizing over the last three years community impact, the difference we’re making in the community and the three different areas we’re investing in,” said Mitchell.
“I think people are starting to realize where their money is going in the community.”
The other major announcement apart from the addition of the newly funded agencies was that a three-year funding program has started, which Mitchell said will help keep funded agencies accountable through annual reports and evidence of impact in communities.
“We have quite stringent guidelines. Only registered charities can get United Way funding and we have quite a lot of progress goals (businesses) have to meet coming forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, Volunteer Community Impact Council Chair Brenda Farwell said, “We’ve reviewed all these agencies, we’ve met with them and I think that’s a very personal, in-depth tactic United Way puts to the work they do.”
Farwell also said that an important part of raising, collecting and dispersing funds is making sure organizations are looking to long-term solutions.
“We, through our collective impact, are a community of prep-work. We want to see long term change,” Farwell explained.
“With funding and ensuring the agencies’ goals and objectives are lining up with ours, we’re going to make sure that happens. We want to make sure the work we are funding, the work they’re doing, and the work our donors are funding through their donated dollars is making the best, strongest possible impact in Central Alberta.”