920.563.8880 unitedway@idcnet.com

The United Way of Jefferson & North Walworth Counties will open its annual pillar grant funding application on Monday, March 22nd at 9am. The application will remain open until 5pm on Friday, April 23rd, with award decisions announced by Friday, May 14th.

“Our United Way is so excited to welcome back our pillar grant funding opportunity after suspending it last year to provide additional financial support for our COVID Relief Fund.  Since launching our pillar grants in 2014, we have allocated a total of $101,513 in pillar grant funding to 50 different community projects and programs, and we are eager to continue that support now in 2021,” states Megan Hartwick, United Way executive director.  “Our pillar grants have been a very successful program for our United Way since their launch in 2014. Although it was difficult for our board to temporarily suspend them last year, we knew it was important to concentrate our efforts on the immediate needs our communities were facing. Now, we’re excited to offer some additional support to our communities, especially as so many groups faced a year of difficult funding but also of increase innovation in the way they deliver important programs and services to our communities.”

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 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. Specifically, all applications must focus on one of United Way’s three strategic impact areas – early intervention care, mental health/AODA, or barriers to self-sufficiency. 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 aligned closely with the main issues facing our communities, so two years ago we transitioned our pillar grant funding a bit to focus on these three strategic impact areas,” Hartwick states. “The focus on early intervention care, mental health/AODA, and barriers to self-sufficiency comes from direct community feedback, 211 call data, county-wide data and input our partners provide regarding their clients major needs.”

A total of $8,000 is currently set aside to support pillar grant proposals, although Hartwick noted that number may increase prior to the May 14th 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, and many more.

“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 2021 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 unitedway@idcnet.com.