United Way of Greenville County’s board of directors announced on Sept. 28 that it had approved a $3.7 million investment plan to benefit 67 Greenville County community partner organizations.
The investment plan includes $1.48 million to education programs and initiatives, $1.25 million to financial stability efforts and more than $1 million to equitable community work.
“For the last 18 months, United Way’s staff, along with our board of directors, have been reimagining the role that United Way could play in the community to move as many people out of poverty and into prosperity as possible,” said United Way of Greenville County’s executive director, Meghan Barp.
That 18 months of work was supplemented by data analysis of its Neighborhood Change Study, Race and Economic Mobility Equity Index, Community Needs Assessment and ongoing community conversations. Following this process, the United Way made a strategic shift to a more concentrated focus on improving economic mobility for individuals and families in Greenville County through education, financial stability and equity initiatives.
The realignment of United Way’s role means there are 14 groups that were formerly funded by United Way grants that would no longer receive the funding, according to Barp. A decrease in money raised also contributed to the decisions on funding. United Way’s revenue decreased over a million dollars between 2017 and 2018. That decline continued into this year.
“Unfortunately, there are just some organizations in there that weren’t as aligned with our strategic direction,” Barp said. “We have been sharing that openly with partners along the way that might be the case if there wasn’t a clear fit with our direction.”
Leading up to the announcement, Barp said, “We hosted several meetings with our partners saying ‘Here’s the direction we’re going in. Here’s what this will look like.'”
She emphasized that the decision not to partner this funding round with some previous partners had nothing to do with the quality of work the organizations did, but only those former partners were not aligned with United Way’s shift in focus.
The United Way request for proposals sent out this summer received 125 applications from 107 organizations, with more than $13 million in total funding requests.
Barp said she would like to see the county contribute some of the $65 million in CARES Act funding it has not allocated to invest in local nonprofit organizations.
“The combination of limited resources and so many worthy applications made this an extremely competitive process,” United Way of Greenville County board of directors chair Jason Richards said in a release. “This list of 67 approved partners distinguished themselves by demonstrating they have the capacity and expertise to make meaningful and measurable progress towards United Way’s impact goals through proven programs and a commitment to a more equitable Greenville.”
Among the 67 selected agencies are 16 new partners. They are:
- Behavioral Health Coalition, Mental Health America of Greenville County
- Bridges to a Brighter Future at Furman University
- Fountain Inn Kid Enrichment Center
- Greenville Housing Fund
- Greenville Chamber Foundation LaunchGVL
- Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy
- Greenville Tech Foundation African American Male Scholars initiative
- Jasmine Road
- Mosaic Educational and Arts Program
- Nicholtown Child and Family Collaborative
- Pride Link
- Root & Rebound
- Soteria Community Development Corporation
- Step By Step Ministry Hope Project
- United Housing Connections
- Unity Health on Main
Jeannie Putnam contributed to this article.