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United Way Pillar Grant Funding Opportunity Opens April 4th

Fort Atkinson, WI – March 22, 2022 – The United Way of Jefferson & North Walworth Counties will open its annual pillar grant funding application on Monday, April 4th at 9am. The application will remain open until 5pm on Friday, May 20th, with award decisions announced by June 15th.

“Our United Way is always excited to kick off our pillar grant season each year.  Since launching our pillar grants in 2014, we have allocated a total of $112,013 in pillar grant funding to 56 different community projects and programs, and we are eager to continue that support throughout 2022,” states Megan Hartwick, United Way executive director.  “Our pillar grants have been a very successful program for our United Way, allowing us to develop new partnerships, increase our community awareness, and become involved in new programs/initiatives that align with our mission and community impact. We’ve updated our pillar grant timeline this year a bit, to allow for more promotion of the funding opportunity and additional time for grant applications to be submitted. We know that almost everyone in our communities is dealing with staffing changes & shortages, and increased workloads, so we wanted to provide a timeframe this year that was cognizant of those issues and will hopefully allow more applicants to submit proposals.”

Pillar grants are a unique opportunity that differentiates from traditional nonprofit agency grants United Way provides, in that applicants do not have to be nonprofit organizations to be eligible for funding, although nonprofits are still able and encouraged to apply.  Consideration is open to all community members, organizations/groups, schools, etc. that may have a great community project idea or an existing program that they need additional funding for. The main requirement for pillar grant consideration is that the project must be aimed at improving the health, education and/or financial stability of the communities which United Way of Jefferson & North Walworth Counties supports (which includes all of Jefferson County and the City of Whitewater). Specifically, all applications must focus on at least one of United Way’s three strategic impact areas – early intervention care, mental health/alcohol & other drug addiction (AODA), barriers to self-sufficiency, and/or diversity, equity & inclusion. Also, to ensure proper use of grant funds, pillar grant payments are made on a reimbursement basis after the receipt of paid invoices or on a direct invoice basis.

“It was important to our board of directors that our pillar grant funding aligns closely with the main issues facing our communities, so three years ago we transitioned our pillar grant funding slightly to focus on these four strategic impact areas,” Hartwick states. “The focus on early intervention care, mental health/AODA, barriers to self-sufficiency, and diversity, equity & inclusion comes from direct community feedback, 211 call data, county-wide data and input our partners provide regarding their clients’ major needs.”

A total of $11,000 is currently set aside to support pillar grant proposals, although Hartwick noted that number may increase prior to the June 15th decision-making date, but also added that the United Way board of directors has full discretion to allocate some, all or none of the funding.

Some examples of past recipients of pillar grant funding are: mobile railyard equipment through Fort Healthcare; scholarships for local children to participate in the Working for Whitewater’s Wellness Fit Kid Shuffle; improvements/additions to school and community gardens; Parents Cafes for Jefferson County Head Start; KIND News publication through the Humane Society of Jefferson County; a handicap accessible fishing pier at the Rivers Edge Nature Preserve, Women Who Care school-based behavioral health & school nurse training programs, the Whitewater Little Free Pantry, Recovery Support Center recovery coach training, Bethel House financial literacy curriculum development, a zen den at Fort Atkinson Preschool and Childcare, an opiate awareness toolkit through the Jefferson County Drug Free Coalition, Dolly Parton Imagination Libraries, and many more. A full list of the 56 past pillar grant supported projects/programs can be viewed here: https://uwjnwc.com/who-we-help/pillar-grant-projects/

“Our board of directors is eager to review this year’s applications and we strongly encourage any and all community groups to review the guidelines and consider applying if they have a project or program that would qualify,” Hartwick states. “We are looking forward to offering additional support to our key strategic impact areas and continuing to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our communities.”

A copy of the 2022 guidelines and application can be found on the United Way website at www.uwjnwc.com.  All pillar grant applications must be completed online, and log-in details can be obtained from the United Way office at 920.563.8880 or [email protected].