United Way of Lebanon Co. launches new funding model with bold goals

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Oct 11, 2018 12:03 PM

FILE PHOTO: (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(Harrisburg) -- A midstate United Way is closing its community chest model of funding area nonprofits.

The United Way of Lebanon County has traditionally acted as a community chest, in which it gives funds each year to a limited number of organizations.

It recently launched a collective impact vision, which is aimed at getting organizations to work together to create long term solutions to community issues.

CEO Kenny Montijo said the move is meant to encourage more collaboration and less competition.

"It's always been done one way. It's always been an allocation. It's always been kind of guaranteed funding year over year, and I think in the 21st century and where we are today, we really as a community need to be responsive, and to be accountable to the donor and to the community," Montijo said.

The new vision sets out three major goals to reach by 2025, based on increasing literacy, engaging youth, and empowering adults. 

They are to: ensure that 90% of children are reading on grade level by the end of third grade, ensure that 100% of youth are connected to work or school, and move 7,000 adults to self-sufficiency.

Right now one-third of children in the county are not reading on grade level by third grade. There are 33,000 adults who cannot support themselves without some form of assistance. 

Montijo said some funding priorities will stay the same.

"We will continue to fund crisis centers, we will continue to fund homeless shelters and those kind of immediate needs that sometimes people just need in the community, to ensure that they're there," he said.

United Way is partnering with Penn State to collect data and track progress on the goals.

Montijo said many United Way offices are moving toward collective impact models, but this approach is unique to Lebanon County.

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