500 Health and Wellness Programs Apply for United Way Funding
United Way supports a diverse array of programs across the health spectrum to ensure that families have access to care. Recently, about 500 health and wellness programs throughout the Chicagoland region sought United Way funding. Requests for funding totaled approximately $50 million, of which United Way has only about $15 million to cover health and wellness programs. In addition, nearly 200 new nonprofits applied for United Way support for the first time.
Research indicates that people living at or near poverty experience worse health outcomes and are more likely to die prematurely. United Way convened a panel of health experts to identify ways to increase access to healthcare services in underserved communities and provide the resources needed so people can take preventive measures to live healthy lives. After a year of planning, United Way launched its funding cycle for programs that address health and wellness earlier this fall. Eligible 501(c)3 organizations seeking funding for a health programs were encouraged to apply for United Way funding. The health and wellness issue area also encompasses safety net services such as crisis support.
“Agencies are increasingly doing more with less, so we were committed to simplifying the application process while still maintaining a strong and fair evaluation of programs,” said Annette Charles, Senior Manager, Income and Health, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. “We held agency forums to get early feedback on our new health framework; we eliminated site visits and created an online training video. The feedback we’ve received so far from our partner agencies has been very positive.”
United Way made every effort to assist agencies interested in applying for funding, whether they were current United Way partners or new to the system. The framework on how to apply for funding was introduced through August and September. Additionally, 12 grant writing workshops were held throughout the region to provide additional guidance on the process. Step one of the Health & Wellness Request For Information (RFI) was launched on October 5 followed by five RFI trainings in communities throughout the region. Just prior to the October 27 deadline, a series of conference calls were offered to help applicants with last minute questions.
“As potential grant recipients we want to make sure we do everything possible to increase our chances of success. A complicated application process can hinder our progress,” said Brent Peterson, Manager of Institutional Giving at United Way agency partner, Thresholds. “The United Way online application process is streamlined, efficient and easy to navigate, and the backup support it offered was truly exceptional. They set out make applying for United Way funding simple and achieved a true win-win situation.”
During the next few weeks, volunteers and staff will be reviewing the RFIs to determine which programs will be invited to submit a full application as part of the second and final step for determining what programs will be funded. Agencies will be notified of their status on December 7. For more information, email Annette Charles, firstname.lastname@example.org.