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What We Fund

New for 2015: Stay turned for our 2015 open grant cycle timeline and grant process. Details and information will be posted here around March 2015.

Information from the 2013 grant cycle (our last open grant cycle):


In order to broaden and deepen our impact, and strengthen our role as a leader, catalyst, convener, and change-agent, United Way of Missoula County has modifed our funding priorities and processes.  This work has been consistent with our shift, over the last several years, to support programs demonstrating results in Education, Income and Health, the three priority areas of the United Way Worldwide movement.  One thing that didn't change:  applicant organizations must demonstrate that their mission includes a major focus on serving low-income and/or vulnerable and at-risk populations.

Collaboration -- We believe that the important and valuable work of United Way and our funded partners would produce more meaningful results through stronger collaborative efforts.  UWMC plays a leadership role in three community initiatives which promote that sort of collaboration: Graduation Matters Montana (Education); Reaching Home: Missoula’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness (Income); and Let’s Move! Missoula (Health).

Accordingly, grant applicants whose work furthers those initiatives and their goals will score higher in the application process.  In line with the priorities 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 outline specific collaborations with other agencies – including programs that submit a joint funding proposal to United Way – will score higher.

Requirements for funding -- Applicants must also demonstrate the following:

•    that their work aligns with general goals for Missoula County in the three focus areas and initiatives described in this document.

•    a capacity to achieve specific, measurable outcomes in these areas in Missoula County.

Financial requirements -- These are unchanged from 2011-13.  

Agency with an operating budget below $100,000
•    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 last 18 months

Agency with an operating budget greater than $250,000
•    One audit conducted by an independent CPA within the last 18 months

Applicants must also submit a copy of their most recently filed IRS 990 tax return.

What we do not fund
– 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 do not fund fraternal or service organizations (Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.).  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, sex or sexual orientation.

Decision-making process, “Citizen Review,” and funding schedule -- All applications receive a careful staff review.  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 18 and May 3, 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 28, 2013, board meeting. Results will be communicated shortly thereafter.

If your program is selected for United Way funding, funds will be disbursed from July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014, via automatic deposit. You must submit semi-annual and annual program reports to us, and reapply for funding next year for 2013-14.  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 must wait until 2015 to reapply.

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, and on 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, recognizing that the total amount of grants we can award this year is likely to be somewhat in line with what we were able to grant last year. Our grants over the last two years have ranged from $5,000-$35,000 each, with the average grant being about $14,000.  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 – and 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 Montana.

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, including housing, with emphasis on 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.

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:
•    Provide low-income and vulnerable individuals and families with access to early-detection screening and tr eatment for physical and mental-health problems.
•    Help and encourage young people and adults to avoid risky behavior, including tobacco and alcohol use and prescription drug abuse
•    Help prevent childhood obesity by
ffectively encouraging young people to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly;
    -providing parents with helpful information to support healthy food and activity choices

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

Questions?  Contact Community Impact Manager Stacy Rye, 549.6104, or stacy@missoulaunitedway.org