Middlesex United Way sets high standards for funding agencies it supports

To continue to improve the lives of people in our community, Middlesex United Way invests donors’ gifts in high-quality programs throughout Middlesex County.

The programs we invest in are ones that make measurable progress toward education, financial stability, health and youth development. We aim to have the greatest positive impact in our endeavors, and that takes quite a bit of strategizing.

As part of our strategic plan, a committee was formed to evaluate and evolve our community impact strategy to increase our impact and recommend specific funding strategies. The plan is to maintain the four focus areas (education, income, health and housing) while also ensuring we utilize the most effective possible service delivery methods.

To stay transparent and accountable, we must hold our partners to the same standards. We prioritize the following service delivery methods: education/training, prevention, early identification/intervention and community capacity building.

We work on addressing the root causes of issues, and it is essential to truly evaluate the work of the partners based off of their measurable outcomes and making sure they, too, are addressing problems before they happen, or in the early stages of the problems happening.

United Way funding is provided to locally based not-for-profit agencies that provide health and human services to the people of Middlesex County, and meet identified critical community needs and priorities. Organizations that apply must submit detailed financial statements, a certified audit, as well as information on the outcomes of programs and services to be provided.

They must also identify how their services would be impacted if they did not receive funding or were only partially funded, how they will use the funds for the proposed fiscal year, and what United Way goal is most consistent with their work.

This past year, our partners had many great successes and made some tremendous progress in changing lives in Middlesex County. The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness to date has matched all chronically homeless individuals and veterans on the waiting list with housing, and have streamlined the process for others who may find themselves in a housing crisis to be more quickly matched with appropriate resources.

Through our school readiness initiative, early childhood councils in Middlesex County provided over 900 families with services designed to ensure that their preschool-age children are socially and emotionally ready to learn by the time they enter kindergarten.

To kick off the application process with our partners, we invited them to our funding partners breakfast, which will take place on Tuesday. It will highlight strategies for successful applications, and review the expectations set by United Way.

All United Way funding decisions are made by volunteers experienced in analyzing budgets, program efficiency and effectiveness. Funding decisions are based on dollars available, community need, and on the ability of the applicant to meet that need. Each year, all services, programs, and town-based projects funded by United Way are also reviewed to these same standards.

Our goal is to ensure every generously donated dollar goes to a deserving cause. Over the past 24 years, Middlesex United Way has disbursed over $20 million to local partners in Middlesex County. United Way is often leveraged to create even greater contribution. Last year, Middlesex United Way dollars helped local nonprofits secure an additional $844,301 in leveraged funds.

Middlesex United Way, as well as the organizations we contribute to, remain as transparent as possible during the application process and throughout the year.

To learn more about the work we do, visit middlesexunitedway.org/faq or contact Ed Bonilla at 860-346-8695.

Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.