United Way Expands Its Network of Help for Howard County Residents
United Way of Central Maryland announced the awarding of $200,000 in Community Impact Grants to eight local programs serving Howard County’s most vulnerable residents.
With demand for basic human services high, United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM) continues to concentrate its efforts on improving the health, stability and well-being of central Maryland residents who are disadvantaged, especially those living at or near the federal poverty level. These grants serve to get Howard County residents out of crisis and stabilize them, with the ultimate goal of helping all families and individuals lead self-sufficient lives.
The grant funding reaches across the basic needs spectrum and touches people of all ages in such areas as access to health care, job training and employment, case management, emergency and transitional housing, nutrition, legal assistance, affordable day-care, after-school programs and the like.
In 2010, UWCM decentralized the Community Impact Grant process to ensure that its dollars address the most pressing human needs. In Howard County, grant awards are approved according to predetermined criteria by UWCM’s Howard County Community Partnership Board, composed of volunteers from various sectors who live or work in Howard County. These volunteers use data, local knowledge and expertise to evaluate and score hundreds of proposals, and then recommend funding to UWCM’s Board of Directors. UWCM’s staff and Community Partnership Board also monitor each program’s effectiveness based on performance reports submitted by grantees throughout the year.
"This year, we have been able to fund more programs in Howard County to improve more lives," said Paul Gleichauf, senior vice president at Howard County General Hospital and chair of UWCM’s Howard County Community Partnership Board. "At a time when so many of our neighbors across the region are in need of help, it’s critical that we allocate these funds to have the greatest impact."
"We are very appreciative that United Way of Central Maryland responded to our grant proposal to make important improvements to the nutrition content of the food we provide for homebound seniors and disabled adults in our community," said Barbara Levin, Meals on Wheels’ director of client services. "Our clients suffer from a multitude of disabilities and challenges that are exacerbated by advanced age. Research has shown that quality nutrition can significantly improve health outcomes of this population and help improve their overall well-being and quality of life."
United Way of Central Maryland received 18 applications from Howard County organizations and approved $200,000 in funding for eight programs. This is an increase from the last community impact grant cycle for fiscal year 2011 – which had 15 applicants, six of which were approved.
Howard County organizations that received Community Impact Funding include:
- Bridges to Housing Stability ($64,000): Supporting the Bridges Temporary Housing Program
- Community Action Council of Howard County ($20,000): Supporting the Rental Assistance Program
- Domestic Violence Center of Howard County ($20,000): Supporting the safe shelter residential services program
- Fuel Fund of Maryland ($10,000): Supporting energy assistance for Howard County families
- Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center ($64,000): Supporting the Grassroots' Family and Men's Shelter programs
- Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland ($6,000): Supporting the home-delivered meals program
- Neighbor Ride ($9,500): Supporting the Good Neighbor Fund
- Service Coordination ($6,500): Supporting the Service Coordination Impact Fund
Community Impact Grants represent just one way in which UWCM is addressing basic human needs in Howard County. The Community Partnership Board is able respond to smaller, urgent requests from local nonprofits on a quarterly basis in the form of Community Response Grants. UWCM is also a major underwriter of specific human service programs at the American Red Cross of Central Maryland, Catholic Charities, THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, American Cancer Society and others – totaling millions of dollars. Last fall, the organization launched its Access to Healthy Food Initiative, a three-year, $2.25 million regional campaign to ensure that people in poverty have greater access to healthy and nutritious food. Later in 2012, UWCM is preparing to launch another major regional initiative to keep families facing eviction housed, together and in the same schools. UWCM also operates the 2-1-1 Maryland call center covering central Maryland, a free service that connects people in need with referral to myriad social services.
"When people think of United Way, our annual fundraising campaigns and volunteer activities often come to mind," said Mr. Furst. "While we proudly mobilize many generous donors and volunteers, what’s even more important is our ability to harness their collective impact. Together we’re giving help and hope to those who need it the most."
If you would like to support UWCM’s work, please visit www.uwcm.org to give online or find volunteer opportunities.