As the largest non-governmental funder of health and human care services in central Illinois, the Heart of Illinois United Way is dedicated to ensuring that the people in our communities have access to the education, income and health programs they need. We all win when families have food and safe places to sleep, when people have access to quality healthcare, and when children are succeeding in school. A stable health and human care infrastructure is critical if we are to maintain a safety net of services in our communities.
Beginning with the new fiscal year on July 1st, many of our United Way partner agencies will be dealing with funding cuts from a variety of sources, including the United Way. With our 2009 campaign down by 11 percent, the more than 80 United Way volunteers, who review applications and outcomes through our competitive grant process, had to cut more than $800,000 from this year’s funding allocations.
In addition, many of our partner agencies have received substantial cuts in funding from the State of Illinois. With additional cuts expected in our state’s next fiscal year, many health and human care agencies will be forced to reduce or freeze the number of people they serve.
This spring, staff and volunteers from the Heart of Illinois United Way joined the United Way of Illinois in Springfield to advocate for the adoption of a state budget that protects critical funding of Illinois’ health and human care services. Along with 57 other United Ways, the goal was to share how challenging the current economic climate is to the daily operations of health and human care agencies in a time when demand continues to increase.
In order for our communities and families in central Illinois to remain strong and prosper, a network of nonprofit organizations, the private sector and government must work together to strengthen and repair the essential services that protect public health, improve public safety, revitalize local economies and enhance learning.
The primary tool the Heart of Illinois United Way uses to drive local, community-wide change is our annual competitive grant process. Each year, we take the contributions we receive and ensure that they provide the greatest possible return on investment. Through our advocacy efforts with the state, we’re focusing our attention on programs that provide economic stimulus, teach positive behavior and reinforce the safety net of services needed most.
As we enter a new campaign cycle this fall, support of the Heart of Illinois United Way will once again be critical to the health and well-being of central Illinois. We recognize the collaborative role the state government and United Way plays in creating lasting, systemic change that can improve people’s lives. No one organization can do this alone or expect to fill the gaps in funding—it will take all of us working together. iBi