United Way accepting applications for 2015-16 partner agencies

Sunday, February 1, 2015

As it does each year, the United Way of Putnam County is sending out a call to local non-profit agencies to be partners in the upcoming funding year.

Currently in the midst of its 2014-15 campaign, the United Way will use the money raised to fund its partners in the following funding year.

"What we raise goes to our partners," Executive Director Jennifer Edwards said.

Applications are open to any 501(c)(3) organizations.

"We can't fund any organizationa if they aren't a 501(c)(3)," Edwards said.

In the current year, the United Way of Putnam County has 14 partner agencies that include the American Red Cross, Beyond Homeless Inc., Hope Haven Horse Farm, Johnson Nichols Health Clinic, Mental Health American in Putnam County, Putnam County Chaplaincy Association, Putnam County Comprehensive Services, Putnam County Council on the Aging and Aged Inc., Putnam County Family Support Services Inc., Putnam County Youth Development Commission, Reading Improvement Center, Summer Enrichment Program, The Imaginiation Library and YMCA of Clay County.

Any 501(c)(3) is free to apply, but special consideration is given to those that serve the focus areas of education, health, or income and stability.

"If we had an applicant that serviced all three areas, they'd probably be more likely to get funding," Edwards said.

The process includes filling out an application as well as providing a budget for the organization.

Applications are due by March 15, after which time they are reviewed and the partner agencies are chosen.

Anyone who is interested may email Edwards at jennifer@unitedwayofputnamcounty.org and she will email the application and budget form for consideration.

Edwards said in her three years with the United Way, less than a handful of applicants have been turned down, and the reason for some has been they were not a non-profit agency.

"It's not a very hard process by any means," Edwards said.

Edwards hopes the partner agencies will have plenty of funding to divide up following the current campaign.

A little over halfway through the campaign, the agency is about halfway to its goal.

"We hope we can finish strong and meet that goal of $175,000," Edwards said.

The campaign kicked off in late September and will conclude with the United Way of Putnam County annual meeting in April. Exact details of the meeting are still in the planning stages.

Regardless of the amount, Edwards and the board strive to get as much of the money into the community as possible.

"We have worked really hard to save on the overhead so we have more to send out in the community," Edwards said.

Once the overhead is removed, the rest is divided among the partners. This point is especially important to Edwards. Although the United Way may be a national organization, money raised in Putnam County stays with the local United Way.

"When they say it stays in Putnam County, it does because we fund these agencies," Edwards said.

One small change Edwards finds encouraging is the United Way taking small steps toward providing some programming of its own. The first example of this is Real Men Read, which is entering its third month serving the kindergarten classes in Putnam County.

Once a month, men (or MENtors) from the community go into each kindergarten classroom in Putnam County to read a story to the children, giving them positive male role models in a place they don't always find them.

"While we'll never be in a position to fund individuals, we want to do more programs like Real Men Read," Edwards said.

Whether through partner agencies or its own programming, the United Way of Putnam County tries to keep its focus on serving Putnam County.

For more information on becoming a partner, the annual campaign or other questions concerning the United Way of Putnam County, contact Edwards at jennifer@unitedwayofputnamcounty.org or 653-5638.

"When you partner with us and give to us, you can be confident you're serving your community in such a large way," Edwards said.

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