New Solutions in King County
Guest blogger Fiona Scott volunteers with United Way Emerging Leaders. Fiona is a legal clerk at a global law firm, where she supports the firm’s trademark practice.
How do you feel hopeful when you feel helpless? In a world where we are surrounded by a news cycle that never sleeps, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We hear all about the groups committed to hate, but never about the groups dedicated to reducing poverty and increasing positive outcomes.
Despite how bleak the world may seem, the good news is that there are always people working in ways, no matter how small, to make a positive change in the world. With the New Solutions grant program, the United Way of King County has dedicated funding to helping local organizations take their small difference and grow it into a big one.
This past week, I was fortunate enough to attend the United Way New Solutions Marketplace, where representatives from 27 non-profits pitched their “new solutions” for community change to members of the Advisory Committee, comprised of Emerging Leaders, community service providers and United Way staff. And here’s what was really cool – and really electrifying – about the experience:
- The New Solutions funding round aims to expand and/or improve services for low-income residents, refugees, immigrants and communities of color. There is a distinct focus placed on programs that are the result of grassroots community organizing. This is to ensure that even though new resources are being brought into a community, the program is honoring and working within a community’s established culture and ideals.
- Though not every proposal receives funding, no organization walks away empty handed. Three non-profits shared every table with three to four advisory committee members. The marketplace was designed to create a sense of togetherness between the non-profits – not competition. All of the providers had an opportunity to network with each other and the members of the committee, and then pitch their proposal to the group. Members of the advisory committee as well as other providers were able to pose questions and learn about the work being done. We all left with the gift of getting to know someone else in the community who is working to create positive change.
- United Way is going to fund between 10-12 new solutions up to $30,000. That’s an amazing contribution that will jump start new projects developed by grassroots organizations, many of which can’t typically compete with bigger, better funded organizations.
So next time the evening news begins to feel like a laundry list of terrible tragedies, remember that there are groups of community members right here in King County who are dedicating their lives to helping the most marginalized and undeserved among us. And know that if you ever want to help, every time you give your time in volunteering or give a donation to United Way King County, you are helping create real change.