July 23, 2019 | Greenwich Time

REENWICH — Before closing out the fiscal year, the Greenwich United Way issued its second round of Community Impact Grants to help local health, education and self-sufficiency programs.

This second round of $330,000 in grants brought the total for 2018-19 to $911,000, which was distributed to 20 agencies around town.

All of the groups that received support fit the “find it, fund it, fix it” mission of Greenwich United Way, CEO David Rabin said. First, a need is identified, then the United Way gives support to the program, which has the ultimate goal of addressing that need. Grants went to the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich for its after-school program, the Supermarketing for Seniors program at Jewish Family Services of Greenwich, the preschool at Family Centers, the 24-hour helpline at Kids in Crisis, the Pacific House homeless shelter in Stamford and many more.

And now the Greenwich United Way is focusing on the new fiscal year and getting support from every source it can tap to fund programs for people of all ages who are in need.

“The more we raise, the more we can give to the community,” Rabin said.

A grants committee set up by the United Way’s board recommends which organizations should get funding, which the board then votes on.

“A high-quality application with details about the program and how it will impact the priority area the application falls under, like health, education or creating more self-sufficiency,” Rabin said. “We want to know how this is going to help Greenwich community. ... I’d say about 95 percent of our funding stays in Greenwich.”

A grant will support Liberation Programs’ twice-monthly meetings at the YMCA throughout the school year by helping to pay for two licensed facilitators trained in family therapy, child development and/or vocational certification.

He also praised a program in which Abilis helps its clients gain life skills and training in the workplace. That allows the clients, who have development delays, to transition from that program into competitive employment opportunities.

“We like to see new, innovative programming,” Rabin said. “When we see something different, that’s going to interest us like it would any grantor.”
July 23 United Way

And many of the nonprofits that the United Way has supported through the years again received money.

The Greenwich United Way requires the agencies that receive grants to file final reports. Those final reports were due Tuesday from all of last year’s grant recipients, showing how the money was spent and using the methodology of results-based accountability to show how much was done with the money, how well it was done and whether people are better off.

“We are very careful with our donor dollars,” Rabin said. “Bbecause of the research, follow-up and, really, our homework, we get these final reports that show exactly how these dollars are being spent and the impact it’s having on the community.”

To help nonprofits complete these reports, the Greenwich United Way is setting up a grant writing forum for the fall. Jeremy Nappi, senior director of fund development and operations for the group, said it can be a huge boost to help agencies get funding from other sources as well.

“We want to help the local nonprofits better their overall fundraising,” Nappi said. “And as a part of that there will be discussion about reporting back. We want them to be able to highlight the positive work they’re doing to the donor, which could be us or a private donor or a foundation. We want them to be able to show the impact those dollars are having.”

The Greenwich United Way remains grateful for the support it gets from its donors, and while more is always needed, it’s not just about money, Rabin said.

For example, Pathways, which provides help for adults with severe and prolonged mental illnesses, was seeking help feeding its residents. The Greenwich United Way recommended that Pathways reach out to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, which resulted in a new partnership under the umbrella off the Greenwich United Way.

“The network of nonprofits in town is extremely vast and strong and diverse,” Rabin said. “When the Greenwich United Way sees two dots that are separated by a distance, part of what we can do is connect those dots. That’s what we saw and it’s worked.”

The Greenwich United Way is also starting a new needs assessment, a document completed every four or five years that guides town government as well as local nonprofits in determining the needs in town and how they can best be addressed.

The last assessment was done in 2016, just before Rabin took over as CEO. The goal is to complete a “much more robust and dynamic” needs assessment and have this “living, breathing document online” by mid-2020, he said.

To that end, Nappi said the Greenwich United Way is ramping up its research and formulating the methodology behind it. And while it has bigger aims this time, the agency also will not reinvent the wheel considering all that was done in 2016 with research, surveys, volunteer participation and interviews and reviews of nonprofit reports.

“This will be built off our previous methodology,” said Robert Moore, the agency’s director of community impact. “We’re not going to rebuild everything. We’re going to enhance and strengthen that methodology process and focus more on increasing survey respondents, having more structured focus groups with more people from the community and getting more timely, up-to-date information from community voices.”

Moore and Nappi have worked with Fairfield University to develop evaluation techniques to get improved, more accurate conclusions.