MUSCATINE, Iowa–As residents across Muscatine County rang in the new year, United Way of Muscatine welcomed 2021 by opening their new granting cycle. With this latest round of grants, United Way hopes to make progress towards bringing long term stability to those in need.
Three years ago, United Way of Muscatine implemented a new strategic plan. United Way of Muscatine’s Executive Director Shane Orr detailed the plan’s focus: “Our primary goal is to increase the number of self-sufficient households in Muscatine County by 20% by 2030. We’ll do that with a focus on education and job training, and affordable and sustainable housing while making sure that basic needs are met.” This new granting cycle will focus on providing money to organizations that can work towards meeting these goals.
To that end, Orr encourages all organizations working to provide for people’s basic needs, improve access to affordable housing, and create educational and vocational training opportunities should apply for the grants. “We strongly encourage organizations working in that space to apply since it will take many organizations working together to really make the positive change that the community needs,” he said.
For the first time, United Way of Muscatine will use a common financial standards review application as part of the recently founded funder network they created along with the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, Early Childhood Iowa Muscatine County, and Muscatine Charities. By having applicants complete the financial standards review, United Way hopes to make it easier for them to apply for future grants from other organizations, increasing the good work they can do for the community. “With multiple funders sharing the same grant platform and application, organizations can spend less time filling out paperwork to apply for grants and more time doing the important work that they do helping people in our community,” he explained.
Along with completing the financial standards review, applicants for United Way’s grants will need to submit a letter of intent by Jan. 8 and their final application by Jan. 31. United Way provides both forms via their website.
In December 2020, United Ways of Iowa released the results of their survey on the financial impacts of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found the pandemic has had the greatest impact on low income households, and increased the number of households unable to meet their basic expenses every month.
In light of these findings, Orr found it more important than ever to have United Way’s grants focus on helping lift people out of poverty and into financial stability. “It’s going to take more than a band-aid approach to make the long-lasting change that people in the community need,” he stressed: “By focusing resources on this area, we can work to make sure more people can support themselves long-term. When more people can support themselves, our community as a whole will thrive.”