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United Way weighs funding applications carefully
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Local nonprofit human-service organizations seeking funding for 2012 may start applying Friday for allocations from the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s community fund.

Any service organization that wants to secure funds must apply annually, according to Jennifer Darsey, executive director of UWCE’s Liberty County office.

The annual process allows the United Way to evaluate and measure the output of each program. It also levels the playing field so that up-and-coming nonprofits have the same chance to receive funds as long-standing partners, she said.

"We don’t play favorites," Darsey said. "If we’re only funding the same people over and over again every year, the new guy never gets ahead."

The United Way focuses on four priority issues: basic human needs, economic independence, education and youth development, and health and wellness.

Current partners include Meals on Wheels, Senior Citizens Inc. — which offers adult daycare and other services for the elderly — the emergency food-service operation through Fort Stewart’s Army-Community Service and the Tri-County Protective Agency for women who are leaving abusive relationships.

But, Darsey added, the organization is open to funding any 501c3 nonprofit organization that is in good standing with the IRS and offers the community a beneficial service.

To qualify for funding, applicants must meet eligibility requirements that include 501c3 nonprofit status through the Internal Revenue Service and proof that the program model is sustainable and successful, she said. Applicants also must pass site inspections.

When evaluating returning applications, the board measures how thoroughly each organization met its previous’ year’s output objectives, she said. Regardless of past involvement with United Way, no organization is guaranteed funding.

The United Way regional office will provide question-and-answer sessions for qualified applicants July 29 at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Savannah office at 428 Bull St., said Tara Jennings, vice president of community investments. Reservations are required for these information sessions, and applicants should email Pfeffer McMaken at

The UWCE’s community fund is the major funding source for human services within the organization’s service areas of Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties. Last year, the Coastal Empire allocated more than $4 million in funds to the project areas, Jennings said.

Though all applications are submitted to the Coastal Empire’s main office in Savannah, a local board of directors will determine how the Liberty County office allocates its funds, Darsey said. The amount dispersed to each organization will depend on what the county office yields during its upcoming fundraising campaign, which begins in September.

"Whatever we raise in Liberty County stays in Liberty County," Darsey said.

This year, Liberty County received $2,509,067 in services and resources, Jennings said.

For more information about how to apply for assistance from the community fund, go to and click on the eC-impact logo at the bottom of the page.

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