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Since its inception, United Way has partnered with local individuals, businesses and agencies to drive important community change. We are proud of our participation in critical initiatives, including the Long Term and Small Business Recovery funds and disaster response for the fire and floods in 2012 and 2013 and the formation of the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary this year, we are pleased to be expanding our grant-making programs, awarding our first two Innovation Grants to Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County and Big Green.
United Way launched this new type of grant to encourage nonprofits to look for leveraged funds, explore pilot projects, fill pressing community needs and consider innovative partnerships to solve complex social issues. This funding is made possible through generous donors, business partners and the Bohemian Foundation and provides us with the opportunity to increase investments in the community without decreasing support for currently funded collaborative groups.
Innovation Grants allow United Way to be responsive to community needs in “real time.” The grant to Boys & Girls Club is a great example. The clubs in Larimer County experience greater demand in the summer as working parents seek care for their children during the summer recess. Last summer, the wait list was more than 500 children. This year, with United Way’s support, Boys & Girls Club was able to open an additional Club, providing high quality care and summer enrichment to up to 60 additional children each day.
"We are extremely grateful to have been one of the first Innovation Grant recipients,” said Kaycee Headrick, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County. “This grant allowed us to expand and enhance our summer program so that more youth in our community can access a safe and enriching environment. These Innovation Grants provide an opportunity to fill immediate gaps; they are a great demonstration of being responsive to community needs."
Click here to learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County partnership with United Way.
Beyond responsiveness, the Innovation Grant application prioritizes opportunities to leverage additional funds and increase community investment in local projects. Big Green, the second recipient of a United Way of Larimer County Innovation Grant, submitted a strong application to increase access to school gardens and nutritious food to local students. The City of Fort Collins provided Big Green with a challenge to complete gardens in the four remaining low-income schools in the Poudre School District without gardens. They pledged fifty percent of the cost and United Way’s Innovation Grant provided half of the remaining cost, with a challenge to the business community and individual donors to fill the remaining gap to complete the challenge.
This combination of funds will provide dynamic outdoor classrooms and productive edible gardens at O'Dea Elementary School, Lincoln IB World Middle School, Tavelli Elementary School and Laurel Elementary School. These gardens will be operational this fall and are expected to serve 2,000 students annually.
"We're thrilled that the community has come together to build these last four Learning Gardens in PSD and bring real food and experiential education to 2,000 additional Northern Colorado kids!” said Kristin Kirkpatrick, Regional Director for Colorado at Big Green. “United Way's Innovation Grant funding, combined with their matching challenge to the community, and the generous support of entities like the City of Fort Collins' Nature In the City program, assure that kids will return to school this fall to find their schoolyards transformed to improve their access to nature and real food."
Moving forward, United Way of Larimer County will seek out exceptional projects in Estes Park and Loveland for Innovation Grant funding. Our goal is to provide at least eight Innovation Grants during the 2018 - 2019 fiscal year, or more if funding allows.
In addition to Innovation Grants, United Way will continue to fund collaborative groups through its annual grant process. We are proud to be investing more than $3.6 million in our community this fiscal year.
If you are interested in learning more about Innovation Grants, please contact me or our new Vice President of Community Impact, Claire Bouchard. If you are interested in supporting additional Innovation Grants, please consider donating to United Way and attending our 60th anniversary event. Every $10,000 in net proceeds for this event will fund an additional Innovation Grant and attendees at the 60th anniversary will get a say on their choice of project, from applications submitted.
Annie Davies, President / CEO
United Way of Larimer County
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County