Series: Freeborn County Communities Foundation reports

Published 2:39 pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

Freeborn County Communities Foundation chairwoman Jill Peterson, center, shakes hands with people from the United Way.

Freeborn County Communities Foundation chairwoman Jill Peterson, center, shakes hands with people from the United Way.

Organization: United Way

Project: local program funding and workshops

Report: With this generous grant from the Freeborn County Communities Foundation, we have been able to continue many efforts throughout 2013 and look forward to the work ahead.

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In addition to financially supporting 29 local programs, our United Way held an outcomes and measurement training for all area agencies. About 47 individuals from 33 programs attended to learn how they can better determine the impact of their work. Our board is in discussion of how to further support and align the work of local programs to develop a common vision.

There are many efforts we have undertaken to help support the work of local programs and fill in the gaps for organizations, which have received cuts from other funding sources, such as Semcac Community Action. Their efforts are highlighted below. Ultimately, we are focused on solving community problems by encouraging collaborations and engaging new partners.

• We have deepened our focus on poverty by helping sponsor a Poverty Workshop in August and are following up with several key leaders to develop a plan to move people out of poverty.

• Our VISTA position (that we were able to secure through a SMIF grant) is focusing on a Community Success Coach efforts, which will connect people who are established with individuals who are struggling. We are partnering with several programs and churches as well as Local 6 to also engage refugees with this effort. We have a large population of Karen people (from Burma/Myanmar) who are working in our area but commuting tot he cities. Many would prefer to move here, but do not yet feel connected to the community. Part of this effort is exploring the possibility of a Welcome Center like the facility in Austin, but with more local programs included in the building (to encourage greater collaboration/communication as well as address the transportation barrier many local people struggle with).

• We are working in partnership with our local clinic as well as DHS and other community programs to identify and address barriers for individuals to access mental health services and develop a more comprehensive plan of service delivery. We are considering a means of discharge planning to help ensure people who have used services are finding success in their lives and are not falling through the cracks.

• Early childhood is an area of focus that we are beginning to address — discussions are taking place this fall regarding a universal preschool approach to help create more access as well as program consistency. We also began to offer the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program for area newborns to encourage family connection and help support early childhood development. Since June, 49 families have signed up.

• Our Rocking the Block collaboration continues to grow. We had four new partners join the effort this August with over 200 volunteers again helping to rehab 4 local homes. We receives many additional donations of materials, which helped keep costs low.