United Way of Escambia County
RSVP Grant Executive Summary:
The mission of the United Way of Escambia County is to create opportunities for a better life by uniting and mobilizing resources. Started in 1924 as a community chest that funded all the operating expenses for local non-profits, we have evolved into an organization that is intent on mobilizing the resources and individuals in an effort to positively improve lives and the fabric of our community. We are the linkage between individuals and the community they need and love.
Seven local citizens started the Community Chest of Escambia County in 1924. Except for a brief closure during Depression years, this community service has operated uninterrupted into the 21st century, becoming the United Fund in 1957, and United Way of Escambia County in 1972. We have a long history and proven track record of sustainable and meaningful support of our community.
Over the decades, the local campaign has partnered with other charitable entities. In 1943, still known as the Community Chest, the United Way partnered with the War Fund Drive, creating the first link between the local organization and federal employees. Today, a structured campaign works cooperatively with corporate workplaces, school district employees and the Combined Federal Campaign locally.
The United Way of Escambia County continues to expand its service to our community. We currently have a 32 person volunteer board of directors, and an 18 person staff that run an annual giving campaign, a resource and referral call center known as 2-1-1, a volunteer program, an annual voluntary income tax assistance program, annual school supply and holiday supply drives and a very trusted funds allocation process. Once thought of as strictly a fundraising organization, the United Way of Escambia County is now a trusted leader of change that mobilizes community resources to improve lives. We provide highly evaluated and measured impacts and investments of funds and volunteer hours are based on positive outcomes in three core impact areas of health, financial stability and education.
In 2011, we revised our vision to revitalize our focus on engagement. We committed to increasing volunteer engagement in our community by 5% a year in an effort to provide purposeful service opportunities to all Escambia County citizens. We are strongly committed to enabling citizens to create a better community by engaging in volunteer service with area non-profits, schools, and volunteer programs meant to challenge our citizens to create sustainable solutions to our most pressing community needs. The RSVP program enables us to purposefully reach out to area seniors to match them with opportunities to inspire them to passionate service that improves their quality of life.
United Way brings people and organizations together to improve our community by strategically investing time and resources in quality programs. We build strong partnerships, advocate for better policies, engage people in volunteer and non-profit opportunities and leverage resources. We measure success not by dollars raised, but by lives improved and changed. Too often people think of United Way as the ultimate middleman. They see us only as an organization that fundraises in the Fall, but in truth, we work at improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community 365 days a year. Our expertise in matching resources with focused impacts performed allows us to make the most positive difference in meeting needs in education, financial stability and health. We take the guesswork out of philanthropy and donors and volunteers who invest in United Way can be confident they will see a positive definable return. Ultimately, we want donors to know that their time, talents and gifts are the most powerful leveraged contribution they could ever make.
In 2012, we leveraged the generous contributions of 1,799 volunteers who donated close to 30,000 hours to make our community stronger. This volunteer labor represented a $629,000 gift of talent and service that was matched to opportunities at area non-profit agencies, schools and in response to specific community needs.
We believe that with the power of the United Way brand, we can expand this impact to positively impact more people within our community by leveraging the passion, talents, and time of Escambia County seniors. With 65 partner non-profit agencies, 275 partner workplaces and a strong community presence, we can dramatically improve the quality of life experienced by senior citizens engaged in purposeful service to our community. Because of our organization's diverse reach, we are uniquely qualified to match seniors with rewarding service activities with a focuses on economic opportunity and our VITA program; with healthy food activities that include matching seniors with food delivery through Council on Aging Meals on Wheels and Congregate Meal Site Programs and staffing the Manna and Bay Area Food Bank pantries; strong partnerships with disaster service focus include available opportunity to staff our 2-1-1 call centers during time of disaster, assist American Red Cross and BRACE in shelters, meal distribution, fire recovery and natural disaster recovery; education based activities will include tutoring and mentoring activities coordinated in conjunction with Head Start, Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, Learn to Read of Northwest Florida, Every Child a Reader (ECARE) and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Across all focus areas, seniors will be able to volunteer as call and referral specialists for our 2-1-1 program and will make referrals for a diverse array of health and human service programs.
It is vitally important that this RSVP program be funded this year as our community struggles to recover from a recession compounded by the BP Oil Spill. Escambia County, like many counties in Florida, is filled with generous and passionate individuals who want to help those who they perceive to be less fortunate. The difference from many other counties is that the number of less fortunate outpaces surrounding areas. According to the 2010 census, 16.4% of the Escambia County population lives below the poverty line; a shocking 2.6% below the Florida poverty line. While Florida, has grown 17.6% in the last 10 years, Escambia County only had 1.1% growth. Consequently, our non-profit and community partners must efficiently and effectively coordinate resources to best meet needs without duplicating services. They need volunteers to assist them!
We have 295 readily identifiable non-profits in our area who work to address various social and human service needs. Some are uniquely qualified to render service in an efficient and effective manner. Many are sustained by the compassion and energy of dedicated leaders who have varying degrees of business and non-profit acumen. While their service and commitment is admirable, it is not enough without volunteers to bolster their resources and to inspire others.
A dramatic increase in applications from agencies and programs that need funding to meet their core missions of service in the community means the need is growing and it is imperative that agencies are equipped and staffed to maximize the funding we provide.
Applications grid: a sure indicator of growing need and declining resources
2011-12 2012-13 change from last year
#Programs applied 43 53 10, 23%
# Agencies applied 31 41 10, 32%
# New Programs ap. 7 16 9, 129%
# agencies new ap. 4 10 6, 150%
Simply put, if we are going to meet growing community needs outlined in program applications received year-after-year, we must effectively train and recruit volunteers to bolster the staffing at area non-profits. Seniors looking for opportunities to engage in the community and to be placed in meaningful service to others provide the perfect match for this need.