United Way of the Midlands: Investing in Our Community and Engaging Volunteers for Grant Allocation

Making a Difference through Community Investment

United Way of the Midlands invests millions of dollars into our community each year through various funding sources. As part of these investment cycles, United Way of the Midlands (UWM) accepts applications from agencies across the metro requesting funding for their programming. The task of helping to determine which agency programs receive a grant award is the responsibility of the Community Investment Review Team (CIRT).

Expertise and Critical Thinking at Work

CIRT is made up of over 100 volunteers from the community who generously donate their time, talents and expertise to help UWM determine which programs applying for funds will receive a grant. These individuals, who are subject matter experts in a variety of areas and active community members, bring their critical thinking to the process and ensure investment decisions are informed and powered by the community. Conflicts of interest are disclosed and respected to maintain the integrity of the process. Once all the applications are received by UWM, the volunteers are placed on teams specific to the program type. Each team is then assigned specific applications for review and provided criteria to assess the merits of each application. In addition to scoring 10-12 applications, volunteers participate in an orientation meeting and two review meetings to discuss scores and funding levels.

Engaging with Funded Programs

Over the course of the grant period, volunteers are provided opportunities to become directly engaged with the programs they have chosen to fund. One of the ways in which volunteers are kept engaged is through site visits with the programs. These opportunities provide CIRT volunteers with a sense of how dollars are being used to enhance service delivery. This engagement also helps UWM and volunteers keep our pulse on community needs in preparation for future funding cycles.

Volunteer Site Visits: Reconnecting after COVID-19

For the first time since the pandemic, the CIA team was able to kick off volunteer site visits this spring. Volunteers began with a trip to Girls Inc., where they experienced their programming firsthand while the girls were out of school. The CIRT volunteers visited Nebraska Center for Workforce Development & Education, Nebraska Diaper Bank, Brighten Our Features Early Learning Center, New Visions’ Joshua House, The Hope Center, Child Saving Institute, Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy and Whispering Roots.

Join Our Team: Volunteer for the 2024 Process

We are currently building a list of community members interested in volunteering to review applications as part of the 2024 investment process. To learn more about the requirements or to volunteer, email communityinvestment@uwmidlands.org or go to www.UnitedWayMidlands.org/CIRT.