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President's letter: We're happy to announce our 2019 investments

 
Dear Friends of MUW,
 
Monadnock United Way is pleased to announce that we are investing nearly $1.48 million in the Monadnock community in 2019
 
A heartfelt thanks to our volunteer investment review teams who spent countless hours over the last several months reviewing proposals and funding initiatives that will help to strengthen the fabric of our community. 

Innovative Investments

A portion of this year’s investments supported our first-ever funding cycle (called a Request for Proposal, or RFP) focused on children. The proposals we received were impressive and quite innovative. 
 
One was from a group of seven programs who offer afterschool enrichment opportunities in a safe environment. This collective group, called All Children Cared for Educated and Successful (ACCESS) is new to MUW funding and their goal is to support the learning and growth of children in their care by reducing non-appropriate behaviors by 50%. The collective comprises the following programs: ACCESS Winchester Afterschool Program; Hinsdale Afterschool Program; Keene Family YMCA School's Out Program (plus Chesterfield site); Project Keep (sites at Symonds, Fuller and Franklin Schools in Keene); Project Edventure Marlborough Afterschool; ACES 93, Afterschool Program (sites at Mt. Caesar and Cutler Schools in Swanzey, Troy Elementary, and Emerson Elementary in Fitzwilliam); Hillsboro-Deering Before and Afterschool.
 
Another innovative proposal came from the newly formed Monadnock Parent Education Collective, comprised of: Monadnock Family Services; The River Center; The Grapevine; and Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services. This collective of parent education programs instills positive parenting practices that help to heal families and support the emotional and developmental growth of children. 
 
We are excited about the potential of initiatives like these, as well as the many other initiatives we are supporting in our community. Congratulations to them all! I hope you will read the full list on our 2019 Investments web page.

MUW’s Strategic Direction: Impact

The examples I shared may sound different to you. You may also be wondering who else has been funded? And is MUW only funding children’s initiatives? Read on to find out.

Why Impact?

In the Fall of 2015, MUW launched a new strategic direction, which focuses on addressing some of our region’s most pressing needs: children, education and financial stability, including basic needs. We learned that:
 
  • Children: The rates of teenage pregnancy, and child abuse and neglect are higher in this region than all but three counties in the state.
  • Education: High school students in this region generally scored lower than the top 25 percent in the rest of the state.
  • Financial Stability: The region is losing high-paying jobs and our wages are the second lowest in the state.
  • Basic Needs: Community members must have access to food, shelter, heat and transportation. MUW believes these are foundational needs that support the focus areas above.
 
Our direction also incorporates Collective Impact (CI). The data and rationale for our direction are outlined on the first page of MUW’s 5-year Strategic Plan. The detailed research supporting this direction can also be found in these two documents: 
 

Collective Impact (CI) at MUW

At its core, CI brings people and organizations with similar goals together to solve complex problems facing a community. The important concepts in this definition are Together, Similar Goals, and Solve Complex Problems. As we learned during our strategic planning process, our region has some complex problems that must be solved to ensure a vibrant future for our community. MUW also has a rich, 65-year history of bringing people together to address complex problems. With CI, we will now encourage our community to work together to achieve similar goals. 
 
How will MUW do this? 
As we shift into CI, MUW will fund a mix of collectives, like the two described above, and individual organizations that can help address each area of need: children, education and financial stability/basic needs. 
 
Our first step in this strategic direction was opening this year’s RFP for children’s initiatives. All applications addressed similar, shared goals and strategies for children. At the same time, existing MUW partner agencies with programs focused on non-children initiatives applied for funding through the traditional allocations process. They are all listed on our 2019 Investments web page.
 
Next year, we will release an RFP for initiatives addressing financial stability, including basic needs. The applications from collectives and individual programs will include shared goals and strategies in these areas. An RFP for education initiatives will be released in the following year, also with shared goals and strategies. Once that process is complete, we expect to be funding a mix of collectives and individual programs who are all working toward solving these complex problems together. 

Direct Strategic Investments

In addition to funding agency programs and collectives, we are also making what we call “direct strategic investments” in initiatives that support our focus areas, such as Impact Monadnock, our signature early childhood initiative. We are also currently investing in the Monadnock Home Visiting Alliance,  a pilot collective launched last year that comprises four agencies that provide home visiting services to families in the region.
 
We are excited about our new strategic direction and its potential to keep our region a strong and vibrant one, using the power of collective action. 
 
I’m always happy to speak to anyone who has questions or who wants to learn more. You can reach me at liz@muw.org or call 603-352-4209 ex. 26.
 
I’d love to hear from you.
 
All my best,
 
Liz LaRose, President
Monadnock United Way
 
Useful links: