For more than 80 years, United Way Capital Area has been investing community dollars in worthy causes: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, helping people make it to their next paycheck, etc. We’re proud of that work.
One of the top concerns expressed by many Central Texans in response to the announcement of United Way Capital Area’s new funding decisions is that we are no longer supporting “agencies that provide very basic needs services.” This is a valid concern, and it merits a more detailed explanation of how our funding model has changed, how much is still going towards basic needs and the other ways that we will continue to support those agencies.
From the ever expanding traffic to the tall cranes building all those shiny new downtown condos, our region is changing and growing rapidly. The data (the US Census or Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project, 2006 Biennial Data Report are great places to start) are showing that the number of homeless grows, more and more kids drop out of school, the poverty rate has increased 35% since 1999, fewer children enter school prepared to succeed, and so on. To think that addressing these same problems—problems that are getting worse, not better—with the same approach is somehow going to make those problems disappear permanently…well, that’s a popular definition of insanity.
United Way Capital Area is not simply adjusting to “a hip, return-on-investment, individualistic culture,” but to the needs and goals of the Central Texas community itself. You, the community, have told United Way that a new solution is in order. You have demanded that we fix our shared problems with innovation, focus, and an eye toward the future. It’s not enough to patch up the symptoms of a problem, you said, United Way must help eliminate those problems from the ground up. So we’re trying a new approach.
A review of our basic needs shift details the fact that United Way Capital Area is not abandoning basic needs funding in our community. More than half of our announced Community Investment Grants funding will go towards basic needs programs and services in our community.
It should also be noted that we will be investing more than $550,000 in transitional funding for currently funded agencies that were not selected to receive new Community Investment Grants. Those agencies will also continue to receive donor designated funds we raise in our campaigns, which amounted to more than $1 million last year alone. Several agencies are also members of our Gifts in Kind program, which is open to any registered nonprofit, and will continue to be so.
So where is the funding going? That is the exciting part of the discussion. We urge you to take a closer look at the new programs, in part chosen by more than 165 community volunteers, who spent more than 1,800 hours reviewing the program applications and providing recommendations for program funding.
Achieving a positive measurable impact in the Central Texas community is the real story–check back here often for more detailed information about the exciting work that these programs are doing. Donate now to help us support the new programs.
Please feel free to comment below, and let us know what you think.