On January 23, our Board of Directors has announced our intent to invest $9.2 million over the next two years in critical local health and human service programs that address key priorities in Education, Financial Stability, and Health and Wellness, as well as four critical community resources that provide needed services in Erie County.

The Board's action represents the culmination of an eight-month process in which 85 agencies submitted 146 proposals requesting a total of $10.4 million in annual funding. Sixty volunteers from across the community, including subject matter experts, reviewed and scored those proposals using a 150-point scale. Based on program scores, priority impact areas, and anticipated level of available funding, 107 programs across 59 nonprofits are slated to receive a total of $4.1 million for the funding year beginning July 1. Click HERE for the full list of funded programs.

An additional $487,000 has been slated for additional community services including American Red Cross disaster relief; Closing the Gap in Student Performance, an initiative in the Buffalo Public Schools administered by Catholic Charities; Western New York 2-1-1, a program of the Olmsted Center for Sight which provides information and referral services; and emergency basic needs services provided to the local Labor community.

This funding represents only a portion of our total investments in improving quality of life in Erie County. In all, we invested nearly $19 million into the community last year through program funding, grant funding secured on behalf of partner agencies, United Way-led initiatives, donor designated funds and more.

Final funding commitments are contingent not only on the total fundraising result of our 2014 Campaign, which concludes on March 31, but on the level of unrestricted contributions - those contributions not directed to a specific agency - which will not be known until all Campaign pledges have been processed. Final decisions will be made and communicated when our Board meets and approves a final investment plan in May.

"A key component of United Way's value in the community is our history of investing in programs and services that are proven to make a difference in high-priority areas," said Michael Weiner, United Way president and CEO. "When our donors entrust us with an unrestricted gift, they are partners with us in achieving meaningful outcomes for people in our community who face significant challenges in education, financial stability, and health and wellness."

The number of programs slated for funding represents a nearly 25% increase over the number of programs currently receiving United Way support. Some of these programs have received United Way funding in the past, and some will be receiving program funding for the first time.

Belmont Housing Resources for WNY was awarded continued funding for its Comprehensive Housing Counseling program. In addition, the organization applied for and was awarded funding for its Individual Development Account and Family Self Sufficiency Programs, which had not previously been funded. Elizabeth Huckabone, executive director, said, "United Way funding is critical to our efforts to help local families not only reach financial stability, but build their futures through savings and responsible home ownership. We are proud to partner with United Way, and grateful to the thousands of United Way donors who made this investment possible."

The Work Appreciation for Youth (WAY) and School-Based Mobile Dental programs at Baker Victory Services, which had not previously been funded, were awarded funding. "This support will make a significant difference in our ability to support the youth we serve - both now through better access to needed dental care, and into the future by helping them learn valuable skills that will serve them well in the working world," said Baker Victory executive director Terese Scofidio. "We are proud of the outcomes we achieve, and proud that United Way has chosen us as partners in improving quality of life in our community."

None of these investments in critical programs would be possible without the support of you, our donors. Your generosity will impact thousands of lives. Thank you.

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