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What We Fund

Updated for 2015 (on Feb. 24, 2015): 


Please read the information below carefully as you consider applying or reapplying for United Way funding. It contains important new information about the pool of grant funds that will be available for granting to outside agencies. A full application packet for the 2015-2016 funding year will be provided to all organizations currently funded by United Way.  Again this year, we will be accepting applications electronically through the online platform, Submittable. The deadline for applying for 2015-16 funding is 5 p.m. on Friday March 20, 2015.


Building a better community:  an overview of our funding priorities – United Way of Missoula County supports health and human service programs that demonstrate results in Education, Income and Health, the three priority areas of the United Way Worldwide movement, and of our local United Way.  All applicant organizations must demonstrate that their missions include a major focus on serving low-income and/or vulnerable and at-risk populations.


Over the last several years, United Way has played a leadership role in, and provided significant support – principally in-kind – to numerous community initiatives. Many of our funded partners are involved in these broad-based collaborative efforts.  We serve as a catalyst, convener, leader and champion of these initiatives, which are outlined below:



Graduation Matters Missoula – supporting and encouraging students to complete high school and go on to college or career training

Imagination Library – a program that mails a free, high-quality, age-appropriate book each month to all registered Missoula County children, birth to age 5

Supply Our Students – annual drive to provide students from low-income and/or homeless families with backpacks full of a year’s worth of school supplies



Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness – a plan to end homelessness by provide appropriate housing to Missoula’s diverse homeless population within 10 years



Let’s Move! Missoula – developing and promoting policies and programs to reduce childhood obesity by encouraging kids and families to eat healthy diets and be more physically active

Western Montana Suicide Prevention Initiative (WMSPI) – reducing the number of suicides and suicide attempts in our community through collaborative efforts that promote, support, and increase suicide awareness, prevention, intervention, and recovery


United Way of Missoula County is also a principal leader of a fledgling community-impact effort – involving many of our funded programs – that crosses all three of our priority-funding categories.  Modeled after successful efforts elsewhere in the country, the initiative’s working title is Missoula Collective Impact.  Its goal is to improve outcomes for all Missoula children and young people, “cradle to career."   


A shift in our funding – In addition to providing significant in-kind support to the above efforts, United Way has also raised separate, dedicated funds for these efforts.  Because of our traditional role as an organization that funds the work of outside partners, however, we have not funded United Way-led initiatives from the results of our annual campaigns, beyond the occasional small grant ($2,500 and below) from our Opportunity Fund.

Although we promote these initiatives broadly, including in the media, to donors and in campaign presentations, United Way has emphasized funding the work of others over funding our own work. In fact, we have made a concerted effort to keep grants to outside agencies relatively stable, even in years when our campaign revenues have been lower than anticipated. Not only has this meant that successful, collaborative, results-oriented United Way-led programs have lacked the resources they need to further develop, it has also adversely affected our cash flow and operating budgets.

Accordingly, after considerable deliberation, we are implementing changes to our funding model. While United Way will continue to further the community's agenda in the areas of Education, Income and Health by making grants to other nonprofits, and while we will continue to provide substantial in-kind support to United Way-led initiatives, and raise separate funds for them from corporations, foundations, public entities and individuals, we will also devote annual campaign resources to these initiatives. Specifically, beginning this year, undesignated gifts to our annual campaigns from corporations and foundations will support Reaching Home; Let's Move! Missoula; Graduation Matters Missoula; Imagination Library; Supply Our Students; the Western Montana Suicide Prevention Initiative; and Missoula Collective Impact.


We believe fully that this is a sensible and strategic course to follow – indeed, it is a path that many United Ways nationally have been following for several years – but we realize it will reduce the pool of funds available for granting to outside partners.  Longtime grantees may see their United Way funding reduced significantly.  This is not a commentary on the work of our funded partners; rather, it is a reflection both of United Way's wish to build on the promising early success of community-wide collective-impact initiatives in which we play a leadership role, and of internal budget realities.



As stated above, all applicant organizations must demonstrate that their missions include a major focus on serving low-income and/or vulnerable and at-risk populations.



Community-wide initiatives – Grant applicants whose work demonstrably furthers the goals of the initiatives described above will score significantly higher in the application process.



Measurable outcomes – Organizations that use, or demonstrate the capacity to use, specific outcome data to demonstrate measurable program effectiveness will also score higher.


Collaboration -- We believe that the important and valuable work of United Way and our funded partners produce more meaningful results through stronger collaborative efforts. 


In line with the funding criteria listed below, United Way also encourages applicants to demonstrate meaningful collaboration with other agencies to produce a more significant and measurable community impact. Applications that describe specific collaborations with other agencies will score higher.



Financial requirements -- These are unchanged from 2014. 

Agency with an operating budget below $100,000


·  {C}

One compilation with full disclosures conducted by an independent CPA


Agency with an operating budget between $100,000-$249,999


· One review conducted by an independent CPA within the past 18 months


Agency with an operating budget greater than $250,000


· One audit conducted by an independent CPA within the past 18 months


Applicants must also submit a copy of their most recent (2013 or 2014) 990 tax return filed with the IRS.


What we do not fund – We do not fund foundations or entities whose principal purpose is grantmaking to others.  We do not fund fraternal or service organizations (Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.).  We do not fund for-profit entities.  United Way – nationally as well as locally – is not able to fund agencies that proselytize or impose any sort of religious requirements on clients.  Examples of this include mandatory prayer or religious study in return for, or in order to receive services. We are also unable to support organizations that do not comply with our anti-discrimination policy, which states the following:


United Way of Missoula County (UWMC) is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination based on race, creed, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, gender or sexual orientation.


Decision-making process, “Citizen Review,” and funding schedule – All applications receive a careful staff evaluation.  Summaries of all applications are then reviewed by our volunteer Community Impact Committee, which selects finalists for further, in-depth consideration, including a full review of their application. Please note that, because we receive a far greater volume of applications than we are able to fund, some do not make it to the final round of consideration for funding.  If your program is not selected as a finalist, we will notify you promptly.


Finalists also participate in “citizen review.”  This is a hallmark of United Way funding nationwide – it offers applicants the chance to give trained volunteers a firsthand look at their organizations and programs, and it offers United Way donors the chance to provide guidance to our funding decision makers.  Team leaders – most of whom are members of our Community Impact Committee – will be in touch with you in advance to schedule a mutually convenient time for those visits, and to explain their parameters. Most site visits will take place between April 20 and May 1, and will last 60-90 minutes.


The Community Impact Committee then considers the written comments of citizen reviewers and makes funding recommendations to the United Way board of directors for action at its May 26, 2015, board meeting. Results will be communicated shortly thereafter.


If your program is selected for United Way funding, funds will be disbursed from July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016, via automatic deposit. You must submit semi-annual and annual program reports to us, as well as reapply for funding next year in 2016.  We set and communicate the deadlines and supply the appropriate forms for your reporting and reapplication purposes. If your program is not selected for United Way funding, you can reapply in 2017, unless otherwise notified.


What we value – We base our proposal evaluations – whether submitted by longtime funded partners or first-time applicants – on the quality of the proposals themselves, including the extent to which they align with the information and criteria stated in this document.  We also take seriously the recommendations resulting from the citizen review process. In the case of currently funded agencies seeking renewed support, we also take into account the quality of our relationship with those agencies.


Deciding how much to request – We welcome you to apply for the amount you feel represents the needs of your program. Our grants over the last two years have ranged from $5,000-$35,000 each, with the average grant being about $15,000.  If your proposal is funded at a level significantly less than you requested, we will work with you to modify your programmatic goals accordingly, rather than ask you to “do more with less.”   


Education, Income or Health – Our priorities and goals are described in the Education, Income and Health sections below. Applicant programs must select one focus area in which to apply – Education, Income, or Health.  (We recognize that the work of many agencies spans all three impact areas; selecting one area allows us to honor donor designations made to specific funding categories.) 


Applicants must also provide one or more examples of their work in the areas delineated by bullet points. As always, it is possible for agencies to seek funding for more than one program within their agency.


 EDUCATION:  Helping children and youth achieve their potential, with a focus on early childhood development and programs that further the goals of Graduation Matters.

 Goal:                         Children grow to their potential physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually, and graduate from high school with the skills necessary to enter college or access further training to prepare for the work force.


To achieve this goal, United Way of Missoula County supports programs with a demonstrated capacity to:


  • Help children start school ready to learn.


  • Support and encourage young people to succeed in elementary school, transition successfully to middle school and high school, and stay and succeed in school through high school graduation and beyond.


  • Foster healthy ongoing relationships between children and caring adults.


  • Provide safe places and activities, especially during non-school hours, where young people can learn and grow.


  • Provide opportunities for young people to give back to their community through service, including through peer education and training.


INCOME:  Promoting the ability of families and individuals to meet their basic needs, become stable and financially independent, with emphasis on the work consistent with the goals of Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.


Goal:                           Low-income and vulnerable families improve and/or maintain their economic independence and well-being. Those at risk of homelessness have access to programs that keep them housed, and those who lose housing are rapidly re-housed.


To achieve this goal, United Way of Missoula County supports programs with a demonstrated capacity to help individuals and families do the following:


  • Meet basic needs, including emergencies. Basic needs include food, shelter, safety, and health care – needs which, if met appropriately, can keep people housed.


  • Access public and private programs that provide longer-term solutions to income challenges and foster greater economic independence and self-reliance. 


  • Access housing appropriate to their situations, including housing linked to social services.


HEALTH: Improving people’s physical and mental health, with specific emphasis on improving health outcomes for low-income people, who face significant challenges. Preventing childhood obesity through furthering the goals of Let’s Move! Missoula; and the reduction of suicide and suicide attempts through the Western Montana Suicide Prevention Initiative.


Goal:                           Low-income and vulnerable individuals and families are able to prevent and/or address critical physical and mental-health problems. Childhood obesity is reduced.  Healthy behaviors are encouraged and risky behaviors are avoided.



To achieve this goal, United Way of Missoula County supports programs with a demonstrated capacity to do the following:



·  {C}

Provide low-income and vulnerable individuals and families with access to early-detection screening and treatment for physical and mental-health problems. 


·  {C}

Advocate for or provide “gatekeeper training” in suicide prevention techniques to staff and stakeholders.


· {C}

Help and encourage young people and adults to avoid risky behavior, including tobacco and alcohol use and prescription drug abuse


·  {C}

Help prevent childhood obesity by


o   {C}

effectively encouraging young people and families to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly;


o   {C}

providing parents with helpful information to support healthy food and activity choices


o   {C}

ensuring that vulnerable families have access to healthy food from emergency sources



Questions?  Contact Community Relations & Development Manager Kristin Stratford, 549.6104, or