Commentary from the United Way board: ‘We are incentivizing connection, not competition. We are making a very deliberate commitment to a better quality of life.’

Commentary from the United Way board: ‘We are incentivizing connection, not competition. We are making a very deliberate commitment to a better quality of life.’

About this post: The following is a letter to the edtior from the board of the United Way of Rome and Floyd County concerning changes made in 2019. Following the letter, you’ll find another posting of what was been funded by the United Way for the 2020-21 grant cycle.

Letter to the Editor: It is fair to say that in most all ways, the United Way of Rome and Floyd County is an entirely new organization.

Rome and Floyd County deserves a community-led, community-minded United Way. It required hard choices, which the board has not taken lightly. Ultimately, we’ve been charged with doing what we feel is best for our organization and mission. Everything from by-laws; policies and procedures; organizational structure; to our telephone number reflects change carefully planned and implemented as part of a larger vision.

Most newsworthy, however, have been changes to our funding philosophy.

A community impact model identifies priority community needs; engages and mobilizes key stakeholders; implements evidence-based programs, funding them to scale and building sustainability; and tracking, measuring, evaluating and reporting community change. What that really means is instead of picking one mission over another, or having those missions compete with each other in a grant process, we dig deep to identify our community’s biggest challenges and we hit them right at the roots in a coordinated, collaborative effort of all the resources available. (Please see the 2020-21 Community Impact Grant Awards below).

Poverty is clearly a community issue in Rome and Floyd County. Systemic poverty is deeply rooted and multifaceted, with causes that stretch across generations past and future. Think of every social service you know of, from food and shelter to recovery and mental health providers. They are all addressing symptoms of and contributors to systemic poverty.

The hope of our new model is to support an ongoing, community-wide, collaborative partnership between nonprofit missions, local government, business, industry, and volunteers–across sectors and divides. It aligns partners around a unified plan for addressing our community’s greatest social challenges; needs are defined and priorities identified together, effort we now meet with year-round support as those needs evolve.

We are incentivizing connection, not competition. We are making a very deliberate commitment to a better quality of life for all in Rome and Floyd County.

Our 2019 competitive grants process transitioned us fully to this new model with an innovative, two-part funding recommendation: The United Way allocated $185,000 in competitive grants to seven clearly defined and fully United Way funded programs, and established a new social change initiative to address homelessness and housing.

This initiative is the first example of our new model in action. Instead of choosing between missions focused on sheltering and housing, it provides a permanent home for the Interagency Council on Poverty and Homelessness, a group comprised in part by leaders from each of these organizations, and creates a permanent support staff position. It also provides the council with 501(c)3 status so our community can designate gifts to support the council’s priorities as they define them together, for the good of all.

United Way has earmarked funds to make this same commitment. Our new focus ensures stability, implementation, and accountability for the work of the council. It drives
collaborative solutions with the support needed to monitor and adjust priorities in real-time, according to changing needs and progress. It ensures the community as a whole receives regular, updated reporting and continued opportunities to engage and invest time, advocacy, and funding exactly where and when they are most needed.

Looking to the past or toward the future, one constant is United Way believes in community first. We are excited about what the future holds, and hope very much you are a part of it.

Signed, the United Way of Rome & Floyd County Board of Directors:

  • Bryan Shealy
  • Jordan Knight
  • Patrick Eidson
  • Brooke Brinson
  • Chris Carey
  • Kirk Jarrett
  • Ben Levy
  • Jackie McDowell
  • Kelsey Mitchell
  • Jackie Moreland
  • Shane Walley

Previous media release: Announcing our 2020 – 2021 Community Impact Grant Awards and the establishment of a new Social Change Initiative to support and prioritize funding toward our community’s work to address homelessness and housing challenges.

Our restructured Impact Grant process allows substantial and meaningful investment in the work of local nonprofit organizations. Our goal is to align evidence-based programs which establish a cohesive strategy for progressive social change. By fully funding these programs, we are able to direct support and build sustainability through measurable outcomes. A dedicated team of community volunteers reviewed program proposals and visited each organization, then made recommendations that were approved by the United Way’s board of directors.

This grant cycle, we will fully fund the following programs for a total of $370,000 over the two year period:

  • Teen LAUNCH — Engage, Connect, Empower, a collaboration with Rome-Floyd YMCA – $20,000
  • Acts of Kindness, a collaboration with Summit Quest – $20,000
  • Become Unsinkable, a collaboration with Rome-Floyd YMCA – $100,000
  • Cooking Matters and Outdoor Adventures, a collaboration with Summit Quest – $12,000
  • Exchange Parent Aide, a collaboration with Family Resource Center – $70,000
  • No Longer Inc, a collaboration with Living Proof Recovery – $40,000
  • Project Learn, a collaboration with Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Georgia – $108,000

Additionally, the United Way joins our community in acknowledging poverty and homelessness as the greatest social challenges currently facing Rome & Floyd County. We have proposed a partnership with the City of Rome and Floyd County to give the Interagency Council on Poverty & Homelessness a permanent home, 501(c)3 status, and to create a permanent support staff position.  This position will lead, coordinate, and support the Interagency Council in developing and implementing their new community plan. United Way has agreed to commit funding to support the council’s agreed upon and defined priorities.

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