United Way announces funding opportunity for organizations working with students, children

United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania (United Way) is pleased to announce the request for proposals for its education focus area impact fund grant program in Westmoreland, Fayette and Southern Armstrong Counties.

“By supporting high-performing community programs, our goal is to help more kids succeed long-term in school and life,” said Westmoreland region community impact director Jesse Sprajcar.

The grant program has three funding priorities. The first is to increase students’ and families’ readiness for school at the start of kindergarten.

“As early as pre-school, a child’s access to quality educational experiences directly impacts their likelihood of performing well in kindergarten and later in school, graduating on-time and attending a college, university or job training program,” explained Sprajcar.

According to local school district data, 74% of children in Westmoreland, Fayette and Southern Armstrong Counties attend an early learning program before entering kindergarten.

“We still see too many children who aren’t able to attend a good program,” said Sprajcar. “Often these parents don’t have a publicly funded pre-school available close by, or their available programs lack in quality and they can’t afford to pay for a private pre-school.”

The grant program’s second funding priority is to support collaborative community-based organizations, including those that work side-by-side with school districts to provide specialized social and emotional support to students.

“More students are entering classrooms with needs that cannot be fully addressed by teachers and counselors within the school,” explained Sprajcar. “To combat that, we want to bolster organizations that are working in tandem with schools to support students.”

The final funding priority is to grow career awareness and workforce development by supporting programs that creatively address the region’s future workforce and economy.

“Our region is facing a major labor shortage in the coming years and our education, business and non-profit community needs to work together to address this issue,” said Sprajcar.

United Way currently funds 13 community programs with education focus area impact fund grants, totaling over $190,000. In addition to education, United Way awards impact fund grants in the areas of financial stability and health, which are administered through separate RFP processes. United Way raises money annually through individual and corporate donations to its impact fund to support the grant programs.

Organizations interested in applying for an education focus area impact fund grant can apply by submitting an online letter of inquiry no later than 4 pm January 10, 2019. Visit http://www.unitedway4u.org/non-profits for application materials and more information.

The application process is open to all eligible organizations, but is competitive. Grant applications are peer-reviewed by a volunteer committee of local educators, corporate leaders and community members.

Prospective applicants can attend an information session on Friday, November 9, beginning at 9 am at United Way’s Greensburg office. To register, contact Melinda Bercik at Melinda.bercik@unitedwayswpa.org or 724-834-7170.