High Point funding grows

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — With needs continuing to outstrip funds available to address them, United Way of Greater High Point has increased its funding to partner agencies that provide health and human services.

Boosted by its annual drive last year, which raised $4.1 million and grew 3.5 percent from a year earlier, United Way is giving nearly $2.8 million to 68 programs funded through 29 partner agencies serving High Point, Archdale, Trinity and Jamestown.

While they grew nearly $12,000 from the total United Way allocated in 2005, allocated funds this year still fell over $229,000 short of total dollars that agencies requested.

“It’s still a challenging environment out there,” says Bobby Smith, president.

Based on recommendations by volunteer teams that reviewed agencies’ funding requests, United Way also approved two new programs to receive funding, the first time in several years it has added new programs.

And it is likely to consider funding groups outside United Way, a move that could affect funds it raises in 2007 for distribution in 2008, Smith says.

While their needs typically exceed the dollars they request from United Way, he says, agencies tend to limit their requests based on their recognition of funds available to United Way.

Requests are “realistic and not pie in the sky,” he says.

Headed by a “community investment cabinet” chaired by Molly Dickinson, director of planning at High Point Regional Health System, the allocation process involves roughly 100 United Way volunteers who spend 20 hours each, on average, visiting agencies and reviewing their requests.

The volunteers are divided into teams that screen requests in each of four “impact” areas that include programs involving health, safe neighborhoods, self-sufficiency, and children and families, respectively.

Funding included nearly $1.4 million for children and families, $716,000 for self-sufficiency and safe neighborhoods, and $696,000 for health.

Funding for new programs included nearly $6,000 for Family Service of the Piedmont to help support Harmony House, a program that provides supervised family visits and court-ordered exchanges of children by their parents, and $10,685 to the Mental Health Association in High Point for its new Work Force program, which provides job training, coaching and placement services for the group’s clients.

Of the 68 programs that will be funded, 18 already had been approved for multi-year support, and so are not getting increases this year.

Of the remaining 50 programs, 27 will get funding increases of at least 2.5 percent, and no programs will receive funding cuts, although one did not renew its request for funds.

Most of the remaining dollars raised in the annual drive are not used for administrative costs but rather for purposes such as covering “uncollectible” pledges; gifts that donors designate to other local United Ways, mainly in Davidson, Randolph and Forsyth counties and in Greensboro; and gifts designated for United Way partner agencies by donors at companies for which High Point’s United Way handles workplace giving.

With annual budget of over $860,000, United Way employs a staff of 12 people.

Overseeing the allocation process for United Way staff will be Desha Williams, former program coordinator at the Department of Community Development for Chester County near Philadelphia, who has been named vice president of community impact.

This year’s United Way drive kicks off September 15 and will be chaired by attorney Ken McAllister.

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