Increased focus with the 5-year Strategic Plan
Sara Levin, VP of Community Services at United Way of King County, speaks on our increased focus with our strategic 5-year plan.
As we approach the six month mark of our newly adopted strategic plan, I’m incredibly proud of our team’s focus and discipline. Our staff and volunteers are among the most compassionate I know and their commitment to creating a stronger community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable is inspiring.
We meet community leaders every day who are passionate about serving those in need. Sometimes the most difficult part of our day is not choosing which programs to fund, but deciding the programs not to fund. The strategic plan requires us to focus donor dollars on meeting our key community goals:
- Reduce the number of unsheltered people by 50%
- Alleviate poverty for 50,000 people
- Engage 50% of disconnected youth
- 80% of kids are ready for kindergarten
Discipline and commitment are great, but they don’t make funding decisions easy. Last year United Way funded more than 220 agencies, and we will continue to support programs in those agencies achieving outcomes aligned with our goals. For some, we will support their missions in new ways, and for a much smaller number, we will no longer be able to provide grants. That doesn’t mean their work isn’t important or that they aren’t serving real community needs. It does mean that we take seriously our commitment to meeting the goals outlined in our strategic plan.
Lately, our conversations with agencies serving older adults have been robust. This group will be impacted because we will no longer fund some of the general services they provide like community dining programs, wellness classes and other social programs help reduce isolation. We recognize that these are valuable programs that are very important for seniors. That’s why we have taken steps to help agencies manage this transition:
- We made our direction clear early on. We began conversations with agencies that were likely to be impacted by shifts in funding—including those serving older adults —in July 2015, giving them approximately a year notice before any funding changes.
- We invited funding applications in line with our strategic priorities. United Way of King County will continue to support services for seniors without homes (nearly 23% of our homeless population in King County is 55+) and families living in poverty (in Seattle alone, 2,080 grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren living with them). Of the 29 agencies that will have reduced funding for older adults next year, 14 will continue to be funded in the above goal areas.
Our team remains inspired and energized by the increased focus and widespread community buy-in of our strategic plan. We know that in our daily work, inspiration and energy don’t necessarily make our decisions easy, but we’re confident in our commitment to building a community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable.
Sara Levin, VP of Community Services