Cheque presentations to representatives of the different organizations took place Dec. 21.
Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz said there were applications from 12 organizations for the 2017 funding.
“The way we do our grants we’re trying to keep it like any other grant you apply for,” she mentioned. “It’s not a given. Right now, especially with our new focus, we’re trying to really target high-priority areas.”
The United Way has three key focus areas on a national level — all that children can be, from poverty to possibility, and healthy people, strong community. Each United Way office is responsible for addressing these focus areas on a local level by identifying the specific needs of a community.
“That is our three pillars and then from there we narrow down specific areas under those things through the feedback that we gain from different human service sectors,” she explained. “We always look at investing in sustainable programs. So programs that we see as right there, they’re going to be around for a while.”
The intention is for the funding allocation from United Way to have a more significant impact than just the provision of funding to the different programs that applied for grants.
“United Way looks at how can we helpto be that catalyst or whatever to help build that capacity in those areas for the organizations who are providing the programs to the vulnerable sectors and looking for more long-term sustainable solutions rather than band-aid solutions,” she said. “So if we can funnel $10,000 into a certain program rather than spreading that $10,000 into five different programs, you’re going to make a bigger impact with $10,000 on one focus than spread out so thinly on others.”
The Swift Current United Way campaign raised $100,000 in 2016, but the entire amount will not be disbursed immediately. The total value of the recent allocations to the 10 organizations is $75,650. The remaining funds will be put aside for any emerging needs during 2017.
“The remaining funds we’ve now carried into 2017 so that we could look at needs that arise throughout the year,” she said. “Some of the other areas we’re looking at doing is how we can invest in those that work in the frontlines. ... So if there is a way that we can bring in training opportunities that’s going to benefit the frontline workers that are ultimately going to impact the vulnerable sectors.”
The 10 organizations that have received grants from the Swift Current United Way for 2017 are the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Canadian Red Cross Society, Family Resource Centre, Salvation Army, Saskatchewan Abilities Council, Southwest Crisis Services, Swift Current Community Youth Initiative (The Center), Southwest Homes, and the United Way Active Play program.
Swift Current United Way received grant applications from 12 different organizations that totalled an amount of $165,000. This was the largest figure ever requested by non-profit organizations in their annual applications to the Swift Current United Way. Schwartz felt it reflects the impact of a weaker economy on these organizations, which have to cope with cuts in government grants and corporate donations and therefore had to increase the amounts requested from the United Way.
“That’s why we have to look at high-priority, because we can’t meet everybody’s need,” she said. “So we really have to narrow it down to what’s making right now the biggest impact and what our community needs and that’s where we look to advisory teams outside of our own team for that extra input as well.”
An external grant committee reviewed the funding applications. The members of the committee include representatives of the Swift Current United Way board as well as members of the local business community and human services sector.
“It’s good roundtable discussions that we have where we got a lot of good feedback and input,” she said. “Ultimately, it helps us make the best decisions that we need to. They’re often the hardest ones to make, but (we can) be able to walk away and feel confident about the decisions we’ve made.”
The kickoff breakfast for the Swift Current United Way’s 2017 fundraising campaign will take place March 10 at the Living Sky Casino Sky Centre. This year’s theme will be “Live United” and the guest speaker will be award-winning Canadian broadcaster Molly Thomas. She will be speaking about her work as a television correspondent and producer, including her visits to Iraq and Jordan to report on the plight of internally displaced people and Syrian refugees.
“So she is going to be bringing a lot of awareness on just the fact of what is actually going on and how Canada can play a role, and what even in our community that looks like individually,” Schwartz said.
Early bird tickets for the kickoff breakfast are available until Jan. 27 at $40 per person or $375 for a table of 10. Thereafter the regular tickets will be available until Feb. 24 at a price of $50 per person or $475 for a table of 10.