Funding change for Lancaster non-profits upsets some

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 28, 2015 2:50 PM

(Lancaster) -- A prominent non-profit in Lancaster County is losing some key financial support for one its initiatives, after the United Way re-focused its grant awards.

Big Brothers Big Sisters says the $120,000 that usually came from United Way of Lancaster County paid for intensive mentoring programs for between 150-200 kids a year.

But this year, the United Way asked non-profits to develop collaborations to address problems in a comprehensive way.

Because the group didn't receive funding, Executive Director Melissa Siweic says it can't take in a new class of 40 kids.

"It's the consequences of them changing their model. I can't help that they changed the model and this is the fallout from it," says Siweic.

"Their proposal was very good. In terms of where it came out in the scoring process, it just didn't make it to where we...we had to fund the initiatives at a level where there was going to be some impact," says United Way President Sue Suter

She adds she's not aware of any of the awardees doing the kind of work Big Brothers Big Sisters is known for, but says the door isn't closed.

"If we raise more money in the future, organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and others, we may be able to weave them in to some of these different collaboratives," she says.

Suter says the United Way wants to focus on getting children ready for kindergarten, connecting people with health care resources, and helping people develop job skills.

"That's fine, I'm not trying to badmouth United Way, they can make whatever funding decisions they want. But there is definitely an impact on agencies who have depended on them for years and years and years," says Siweic.

Meanwhile, Big Brothers Big Sisters says it will soon start pursuing other funding to maintain its mentoring program.

United Way of Lancaster County awarded a total of $3 million to 16 different partnerships that address health care, education, and poverty.

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