New Ideas and Social Entrepreneurs: We’re All In!

By United Way of King County Posted on August 12, 2014 In News

Impact Manager Lori Guilfoyle shares what goes on in her neck of the woods working with the New Solutions grants and grantees.


How would you like a job where you got to discover and fund some of the best, most innovative work to make our community better? That’s my job as giving officer for United Way’s New Solutions Program.

What do I like best about my work? Getting out of the office and out into the community. It is what really keeps me motivated, inspires me and gives me great hope for the future. Doing site visits with our funded agencies is important to my staying connected to the high-quality work they do. But it’s the conversations I have with people that keeps me coming back to my desk excited and motivated.

I recently talked with Mona Han, director of the Coalition for Refugees from Burma. She was so excited to share that they’re partnering with the Kent Meridian High School for the GOAL (Global/lOcal Academic and Leadership) Summer Program. The program has various themes for global and local awareness and academic achievement, with opportunities for youth to participate in service projects. This summer activity will help to keep youth on track and ready to begin the next school year. Such a great program.

Over the past couple of years, United Way of King County and the Coalition for Refugees from Burma have worked together to bring new resources to the local Burmese community. In addition to funding, we are able to connect them to Child Care Resources to develop their Family Literacy Project. This includes parent education workshops and early-learning activities for their children. The curriculum, originally developed by Child Care Resources, was adapted for the Burmese culture and language.

You might ask why United Way supports these kinds of programs. Giving grants like this is at the heart of my great job running New Solutions.

New Solutions To What, You Ask?

United Way’s New Solutions grant-making recognizes that existing human services aren’t always successful in meeting needs. Agencies might not have adequate capacity. They might be providing services that aren’t responsive or relevant to a new population. Or there might be no organization at all currently serving a location or population.

Those are all reasons that, through our New Solutions grants, we support innovative approaches to service design and delivery, new ways to build organizational and community capacity—as well as new ways to effectively meet emerging needs. New Solutions grants and grantees do all this through partnership arrangements, leadership development, and/or community building.

Many of the ideas come to us through community members working on the ground to identify new ways of meeting needs in the community. There is also a written proposal process. Last year we received about 115 proposals. Here’s another of our recent New Solutions grants:

Rainier Valley Corps is implementing a service learning model tailored to refugees and immigrants. Rainier Valley Corps will recruit and place leaders from refugee and immigrant communities at community-based organizations as core staff who build organizational capacity. They gain leadership, community development and professional skills while helping the organization build critical infrastructure.

Doing something that I should know about? Get in touch by email at lguilfoyle@uwkc.org.


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