United Way kicks off grant cycle | ParkRecord.com

United Way kicks off grant cycle

Kelly Evertsen, Of the Record Staff

United Way in Summit County is always doing its best to get the community involved.

"Our goal is to bring people and resources together to make changes in our community. That’s not a one-day thing, it takes years," said Judy Sobin, regional director for United Way in Summit County. "We have wonderful resources in our community and we can bring more in and we can get people together to produce great results."

Last week, United Way started calling for applications for its three-year grant funding cycle. Non-profit organizations or other established public entities are encouraged to apply for these grants in order to provide philanthropic services, activities or facilities for Summit County and Utah. United Way is also hosting a variety of activities this year, including the Young Leaders Event in Salt Lake on Saturday, Dec. 1, the Earn It, Keep It, Save It Campaign, community learning centers and the Centro de la Familia program.

There is plenty of money to give away to organizations that truly want to make a difference. United Way of Salt Lake has assessed and identified the four major priorities of the state for 2007.

These include 1) improving financial stability; 2) opening doors to educational achievement; 3) strengthening children and families; and 4) protecting and meeting basic needs.

"[Our] research identified the most serious social problems facing our communities," said Deborah Bayle, president and CEO of United Way Salt Lake, in a press release.

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Organizations that apply for grants must meet certain eligibility criteria in order to apply, whether or not they have received grants from United Way in the past, Sobin said.

But, she said, it is easy to apply and she encourages all non-profits in the Park City community to place an application.

"As long as they fall within one of those four core areas, and if they have a program they feel would meet the objectives, they should consider applying," Sobin said. "It can be a new approach. It can be something they’re already doing. There’s no limit in terms of the types of programs within those four areas."

United Way of Summit County will host an information session about grants on Dec. 10, at the Rikka floral shop in the Silver Mountain Building at Kimball Junction from 2 to 4 p.m. This "technical training session" will "provide information to help people determine whether or not they want to put in an application for a grant," Sobin said. The deadline for applications is Jan. 11.

The eligibility criteria list and applications are available on United Way’s Web site at http://www.uw.org .

Summit County organizations with United Way grants

Sobin talked about five organizations in Summit County that were selected to receive grants from United Way in the last three-year cycle.

One is the Norwegian Outdoor Exploration Center in Oakley.

"They have been in Park City for the last 27 years, so they’re one of the oldest organizations we have," Sobin said. "They bring children together with nature."

Sobin explained the Norwegian Center works with children from local schools who are either disadvantaged or grieving to rebuild their self-confidence. Sobin said the center has done very well with the grant it has received from United Way.

She said United Way also sponsors the Park City Peace House, the domestic violence support agency that provides resources, facilities and an outreach center for families experiencing domestic abuse.

"They seem to be the most well-known," Sobin said of the Peace House.

Another program is Community Action Services, which works throughout the county to assist people in need of paying utility bills, buying food or paying their rent.

"It’s a really good program for people who are going through that," Sobin said of Community Action Services.

Two other Summit County organizations that received United Way grants are Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club of Park City.

"Big Brothers, Big Sisters basically brings youth and adults together – boys and girls – and matches children with adults who mentor them," Sobin explained. "These children usually come from single-parent families or have parents who aren’t around a lot. Mentors can help with anything from homework to going out for hikes, to having a meal together."

Sobin say the Boys and Girls Club of Park City also provides after-school activities for children. The organization recently renovated its facilities at the City Park.

"They [offer] after-school activities for kids of all ages – elementary, middle and high school," Sobin said. "They have a nice facility."

Earn It! Keep It! Save It!

Another outreach program United Way will sponsor in Park City in January is the "Earn It! Keep It! Save It!" campaign.

The "Earn It! Keep It! Save It!" campaign is a free tax clinic for Parkites or Summit County citizens who earn less than $40,000 a year to have their taxes prepared for free.

Sobin said this is the first time United Way has held the program in Park City. She said those who qualify can make an appointment by calling 211, United Way’s statewide hotline. She said volunteers will be at Zions Bank each Wednesday night at the end of January, during tax season. She said some people who make less than $40,000 a year can get up to $4,500 back on their income tax credits.

"It’s such a great thing because it’s free money," Sobin said. "Then we ask people to try to do something with it – Either pay off their debt or save it, put it in an educational account for their child because that’s something you can get every year and keep."

Sobin added that the IRS and immigration service do not associate with each other, so immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, she said, should file their taxes.

"It will not impact anyone’s immigration status except to establish residency and citizenship later on," Sobin said.

Community learning centers and Centro de la Familia

Sobin also encourages Parkites to support the current educational programs that United Way sponsors, including community learning centers and the Centro de la Familia program.

"Basically, the idea of a community learning center is to address the achievement gap and, to not just address it, but to do something about it," Sobin said. "It brings the community to the schools We’re just such a perfect community for this concept [because] we’re doing a lot of this already."

Sobin explained that a community learning center encourages parents to be more active in their children’s educations. She said this could mean providing childcare for parents so they can attend parent-teacher meetings, providing mentoring programs or other programs. She said it also means finding the means to provide medical or dental care for children who cannot afford it.

"The idea is to look at the particular school and see what’s missing and what needs to be there to help children learn," Sobin said. "We have kids who are unsupervised a lot of the time now with both parents working and with more single-parent families."

United Way of Summit County also has a contract with Centro de la Familia. This program promotes educational opportunities for Latino families in the community.

"We are really going to do a lot with this," Sobin said of the program. "This is a great community for not shying away from this huge issue. We have a huge gap in learning for our Latino kids and our white kids, so we really need to address that."

Sobin said she hopes members of the community will rally around Latino families and their children to create a dual immersion of both the American and Latino cultures.

"Many Latino parents are working two jobs and cannot get involved in their children’s educations. It’s proven that parent involvement helps a child’s achievement in school," Sobin said.

When asked what community members can do to be more involved, Sobin said the possibilities are endless. Actively working in the community to promote these programs is a great way to contribute, she said. She encourages Parkites to contact United Way in Summit County to learn more about volunteer opportunities. She said donating money is an easy way to make an impact.

"Donating money is always needed. One hundred percent of their contributions go into the program. Our administrative costs are totally covered by corporate donations," Sobin said.

Young Leaders event at The Depot

Judy Sobin of United Way in Summit County also spoke about the various philanthropic networks sponsored by United Way and throughout Utah. These include the Young Leaders group, the Women’s Philanthropic Network and other leadership circles.

This Saturday, Dec. 1, United Way is hosting the Young Leaders charity event at The Depot in Salt Lake City for young professional ages 18 to 45 at 7 p.m.

United Way of Salt Lake’s Young Leaders is a network that "provides opportunities for our community’s emerging generation of leaders to create lasting changes through personal philanthropy and civic engagement," the press release reads.

The Young Leaders event will include live music from Solid Gold, an 80s cover band, as well as appetizers and drinks. Keynote speaker Eric Greitens, a humanitarian worker, Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar who earned his Ph.D at Oxford, will address the crowd. Greitens has served around the world as a national champion boxer and founder of the Center for Citizen Leadership, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of the next generation of American leaders. Tickets are $75 or a pack of 10 tickets for $750. They can be bought through United Way or purchased at the door the night of the event. For more information, call 211 or visit http://www.uw.org.

For more information about this event, the grant cycles or other programs sponsored by United Way, visit http://www.uw. org. To learn how to donate or volunteer, call Summit County United Way at 647-6767 or e-mail judy@uw.org . The statewide United Way telephone hotline is 211.