Community Grants Update
One of the ways United Way Blackhawk Region tackles our community's tough problems is by awarding Community Grants to local programs demonstrating community need, articulating program efficacy and results.
Currently, we are in step 4 of a 6-step volunteer-driven process for the 2021 - 2023 Community Grant cycle.
Application: First, eligible applicant organizations complete a rigorous online application with numerous required document attachments or uploads. The application spans myriad topics including substantiating community need, program delivery, demographics, measurable outcomes, etc.
Financial Review: The second step is a thorough financial analysis conducted by a volunteer team of accountants and finance professionals. Volunteers review applicants’ IRS Form 990s, agency budgets and specific program budgets, a Partner Certification Form and the most recent Audit. Any concerns identified by the Financial Review Team are then forwarded to the Investment Panel (also referred to as community volunteers and/or the volunteer panel).
Investment Panel Reviews & Evaluates Application: The third step is the formation of diverse volunteer Investment Panels, which are comprised of local subject matter experts and knowledgeable professionals who have full access to the completed application and all the required attachments. The Investment Panel looks closely at the value of a program in the community and its ability to achieve outlined goals in our focus areas of health, education and financial stability.
Panel Presentation: The Investment Panel is tasked with evaluating the application and being present for a panel interview (this year via Zoom) with the applicant organization. Required attendance from the applicant organization includes their CEO, board representative and financial expert (e.g. CFO, board treasurer, etc.). Our volunteers understand the panel presentation is a face-to-face opportunity for a deeper dive into any questions or concerns they may have.
Next up, the Investment Panel Develops Recommendation(s) to the Community Impact Council. The purpose of the volunteer Community Impact Council is to provide executive leadership and oversee all steps of the Community Grant process. As such, the Council conducts a thorough review to approve and/or modify funding recommendations from the Investment Panels and makes the final investment / grant award recommendation(s) to the Board of Directors.
The last step is the Final Community Grant Award / Investment Approval. The volunteer Community Impact Council, as well as United Way Blackhawk Region's Board of Directors must ensure responsible stewardship and accountability for funds allocated by United Way as part of the investment plan. Final approval of Community Grant Awards is voted upon by the board.