When United Way of Greater Topeka began working to solve the root causes of problems in our community, our board and volunteers understood that it would also be essential to continue providing support for Basic Needs. Basic Needs like food, health care and prescription access, rent and utility assistance, and even safety from domestic violence have to be addressed before someone who is struggling can even think about making a long-term change.
This December, 39 volunteers like you gathered to evaluate and approve new Basic Needs grant applications. Partners all across the community submit their plans to provide services and United Way volunteers read through those applications online before meeting in the United Way Community Room to make final decisions. Katie Sullivan, Director of Community Impact, is responsible for overseeing the process and works closely with Director of Volunteer Engagement and E-CImpact administrator Joyce Katzer to provide the best experience for our volunteers.
Volunteers invested $367,700 with 16 partners. Three nonprofits received funding in multiple categories. Two agencies, Valeo Behavioral Health and Marian Dental Clinic, are receiving a United Way investment for the first time.
“United Way knows that continued support for those in crisis is vital to the stability of our community,” said Carol Wheeler, United Way of Greater Topeka interim CEO. “People who lack food or struggle to pay for basics like rent and utilities can’t focus on making bigger improvements in their lives. So as United Way and our partners work to improve the education, financial stability and health of our entire community, we also help the agencies that keep our most vulnerable citizens afloat in hard times.”
Anyone can serve on a review panel. The process requires about an hour of preparation for each proposal to be reviewed plus a review panel meeting that lasts from 4 to 8 hours. Renewal panels for grants in Early Education, On-Grade Achievement and Financial Stability will take place in late spring. Panel opportunities will be announced on the United Way Facebook page and on the website: www.unitedwaytopeka.org.