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The United Way of Escambia County is Dedicated to the Causes that Matter

By Elisha Neubauer

The United Way is a nonprofit organization that is spread out in counties across America (almost 1,200 counties to be exact), focusing on the issues that are most pressing to that specific area. They partner with everything from schools, government agencies, businesses, and organized labor to financial institutions, community development corporations, voluntary and neighborhood associations, the faith community, and many others to accomplish their varied missions and goals.

In Escambia County, the local United Way funded specific community outcomes secured by forty-three programs at thirty local partner agencies that received a total of $946,683, for outcomes promised last year alone. "Each of those funded programs provides services in one of United Way of Escambia County's three focus areas: education, health or financial stability," explains Melissa Lewis, Director of Administration/HR for the United Way of Escambia County.

When it comes to selecting which programs will be awarded the grant money, there is a fair yet detailed process which occurs. "United Way volunteers choose which programs receive funding during the Community Investment Process," Lewis tells us. "United Way invites its donors to review grant applications, visit agency sites to learn more about the programs, and make funding recommendations based on the available funds and the quality of the programs that have applied." These recommendations are then reviewed by the Board of Directors for that community's United Way office and then funds are dispersed.

This practice of funding community-needed programs has been active and ongoing since its inception in 1924. Founded by Carl and Agnes Weis, John Sherrill, John McCormack and Max Bear, the goal of the United Way of Escambia County was to fundraise, as one entity, on behalf of all local agencies. "During its first year, the group met its goal of raising $30,000," Lewis details. "Today, United Way of Escambia County brings together agencies, businesses, organizations, faith-based groups, government, and individuals to focus on the community problems that matter most."

During times of community crisis, this organization really shows its worth in ways that are exceptionally beneficial to the community. In February of this year, Escambia County was hit with two EF3 tornados that damaged or destroyed more than four hundred Escambia County properties. The United Way immediately set to work, raising $353,232 through fundraising efforts.

"The community also donated $70, 168 worth of in-kind items to help those who lost everything during the tornados," says Lewis. "During two rounds of special grant funding, United Way of Escambia County's Board of Directors has already awarded $243,085 of these funds to local nonprofits that demonstrate the ability to provide long-term recovery assistance to tornado survivors." Lewis goes on, stating that once the additional funding has been received, a third round of funding will be opened for nonprofits to apply. "Every dollar donated to United Way supports tornado recovery." In total, United Way of Escambia County will award over $2 million to serve the community this year. Over 150 agencies will benefit from these allocations of funds.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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