United Way allots funds

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Official: Agency able to better support partners

United Way of Denton County approved the distribution of more than $2 million in campaign funds this week, which included donor-designated grants to 419 area nonprofits and its partner agencies.

Gary Henderson, chief executive officer, said that the increase in campaign contributions meant the agency was able to increase its overall support of partner agencies about 7 percent. The economy has taken its toll over the past four years, Henderson said, but this year’s donations offered enough growth to increase the support and address other community needs.

“We know where we came from three to four years ago, so we are pleased and grateful,” Henderson said. “But we are quick to point out to our partner agencies that we know we’re not there yet.”

The agency gave $685,000 in grants to 20 of its partner agencies. Two partner agencies — the Child Study Center of Fort Worth and Reading & Radio Resource of Dallas — did not receive partner grants from United Way of Denton County this year.

Officials from that agency could not be reached for comment.

Henderson said that the Child Study Center received $1,000 last year and did not apply this year. The volunteers who reviewed the applications declined to award a partner grant to Reading & Radio Resource, which provides audio materials for people who cannot read because of visual or other impairments, he said.

The agency also funded some of its own initiatives to meet community needs, including programs directed at financial stability.

In the next month, United Way will organize a meeting with representatives from community banks and credit unions to discuss a new program aimed at helping people avoid high-cost lenders and other expensive money services, such as purchasing money orders to pay bills, Henderson said.

“We’re going to explain the problem of predatory lending in our community,” Henderson said. “We need to secure a number of financial institutions who will offer second-chance and basic checking and savings accounts.”

The agency is seeking local commitments to the program Bank On Denton, so that when the United Way, its partner agencies or other social service agencies in the community refer a client to a bank or credit union, they are confident the institution will be expecting the clients. Once enough financial institutions have made the commitment to provide those basic services, the program shouldn’t take long to roll out, Henderson said.

“It will be simple and straight forward for us,” Henderson said, adding that agency is modeling its efforts after similar programs that have found success in other communities.

The United Way is also expanding its tax preparation services, officials said. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides volunteers to help households earning less than $50,000 a year prepare their income taxes. Through a grant from the Internal Revenue Service, the agency expanded the number of VITA centers in 2012 from two to four.

For more information about the program, go to www.unitedwaydenton.org/programs/VITA.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter @phwolfeDRC.

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 campaign results: $2,068,026

Donor-designated gifts to 419 nonprofits: $349,078

Donor-designated gifts to partner agencies: $117,802

Partner agency grants: $685,000

Community impact initiatives: $268,113

Community awareness and advocacy initiatives: $157,214

Agency general operating: $258,806

Reserved for future determination: $60,118

Unfulfilled campaign pledges: $171,895

SOURCE: United Way of Denton County


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