Home > United Way | Live United > United Way of Northeast Mississippi awards over $1.6 million to local nonprofits

NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI – United Way of Northeast Mississippi (United Way) has reaffirmed its commitment to increasing Academic Success, Health & Wellness and Family Stability within the region.

At their March meeting, the United Way board of directors approved just under $1.6 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations for the 2020-2021 funding cycle. An additional $5,895 was designated by donors to five agencies not receiving grant awards.

These grant awards represent the culmination of a three-year process of moving toward the Community Impact model of funding for United Way.

“Our community has been instrumental in creating this new model every step of the way,” said Mary Ann Plasencia, Director of Community Impact at United Way.

That process began with a series of Community Conversations, during which United Way asked people across each of their seven counties and from varying social backgrounds to describe the most pressing issues in their communities.

“What we found is that in every community, the problems people were seeing were the same,” said Plasencia.

United Way took the results of those conversations and convened a panel of experts in education, health and family stability to decide what strategies would best address the issues the community saw as most significant. Those resulting strategies guided United Way volunteers in choosing the programs that would create the greatest impact on those issues and within the region as a whole.

“I was really impressed with how seriously the volunteers took this process,” said Hilary Hamblin, owner of Momentum Consulting, who served as the Community Impact chair for United Way. “We all knew that every organization applying for United Way funding is doing great work in our community, but we also wanted to be sure we are investing donors’ dollars in the programs that can achieve the most results and are most in line with United Way’s values. Everyone very carefully evaluated each application and seriously deliberated each recommendation to be sure we were doing the right thing.”

The Community Impact volunteers reviewed applications from 64 applying organizations and scored them according to a rubric that factored in how closely those programs aligned with United Way’s strategies, as well as the organization’s plan to measure outcome data and report those outcomes back to United Way.

“We took care to ensure that the Community Impact committee represented each county we serve and that there were experts in education, health and family stability as well. We also included individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds to be sure our region was well-represented,” said Plasencia.

After the Community Impact committee reviewed each applying program, a smaller group met to make funding recommendations that were then adopted by the United Way board.

“The decisions that the Community Impact cabinet made were tough,” said Plasencia. “There are agencies that will receive less funding than they did in the past, but then there are others that will see a big increase in their funding. The cabinet really wanted to see that those agencies that are aligned with our strategies and can make a big impact on the issue they are addressing had the funding to do that.”

All of the applicant agencies were notified of their grant awards during a series of meetings with United Way representatives. All organizations that have received grants will be required to begin collecting data on their outcomes in April 2020 and report that data every six months over the two-year grant cycle. Each organization will receive the same grant amount in 2021, provided United Way has the funds available.

“We want to thank our community for being with us every step of the way in this process,” said Melinda Tidwell, president of United Way of Northeast Mississippi. “This is the community’s United Way, and we wanted this to be the community’s decision, as it always has been.”

She added, “We have received positive feedback from individual donors and our corporate donors about this change. We are excited to be able to show exactly how your investments are making an impact in a more concrete way.”

The organizations receiving grants for 2020-2021 are as follows:

Agency Name Impact Area 2020 Grant
4-H Itawamba County Academic Success $3,000
4-H Lee County Academic Success $25,000
4-H Prentiss County Academic Success $3,750
4-H Tishomingo County Academic Success $5,000
Association for Excellence in Education Academic Success $15,000
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of NEMS Academic Success $5,750
Boy Scouts – Yocona Area Council Academic Success $10,000
Boys & Girls Club of Booneville Academic Success $16,928
Boys & Girls Club of Iuka Academic Success $12,000
Boys & Girls Club of Baldwyn Academic Success $11,000
Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi Academic Success $125,000
Church After School Association Academic Success $12,000
El Centro, Inc. Academic Success $12,000
EXCEL, Inc. Academic Success $16,488
ExPect Academic Success $2,000
Girl Scouts – Heart of the South Academic Success $30,000
American Red Cross, North Mississippi Chapter Family Stability $75,000
F.A.I.T.H. Food Pantry Family Stability $30,000
Faith Haven, Inc. Family Stability $8,000
Fuller Center for Housing of Houston Family Stability $10,000
Fulton United Methodist Food Pantry Family Stability $19,000
Good Samaritan Center of Union County Family Stability $12,000
Habitat for Humanity of Pontotoc Family Stability $10,000
Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Mississippi Family Stability $65,000
Helpful Samaritan Food Pantry Family Stability $1,000
Itawamba United Methodist Food Pantry West Family Stability $11,000
Meals on Wheels Family Stability $65,000
Mission Okolona Family Stability $37,000
NMMC Healthcare Foundation-Cancer Care Center Snack Cart Family Stability $3,000
S.A.F.E., Inc. Family Stability $88,500
Saints’ Brew Family Stability $10,000
Sally Kate Winters Family Services Family Stability $4,611
Salvation Army (Tupelo) Family Stability $165,000
St. Luke United Methodist Food Pantry Family Stability $25,000
The Sunday Fund, Methodist Senior Services Family Stability $10,000
Talbot House, Inc. Family Stability $10,000
Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging Family Stability $7,000
Tishomingo County Community Coalition Family Stability $20,000
Weekend Food Backpack Program Family Stability $8,000
Agape Health Services. Inc. Health $16,535
Autism Center of North MS Health $70,000
Banah Pregnancy Testing Center, Inc. Health $16,280
CATCH Kids, Inc. Health $48,000
Family Resource Center of NEMS – Children’s Advocacy Center* Health $95,000
First Choice Center for Women, Inc. Health $10,125
Good Samaritan Health Services, Inc. Health $49,100
Hope Family Ministries, Inc. Health $9,750
National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence of NEMS, Inc. Health $68,400
New Haven Center Health $17,500
NMMC Healthcare Foundation-Diabetes Treatment Center Patient Assistance Fund Health $15,000
NMMC Healthcare Foundation-Heart and Vascular Institute Patient Assistance Fund Health $10,000
NMMC Healthcare Foundation-Hospice Patient Assistance Fund Health $5,558
NMMC Healthcare Foundation-Social Work Patient Assistance Fund Health $14,100
North MS Kidney Foundation Health $11,200
Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic, Inc. Health $16,000
Regional Rehabilitation Center, Inc. Health $85,000
Sanctuary Hospice House, Inc. Health $10,000
Shepherd’s Center of Greater Tupelo Health $6,000
Special Education and Handicapped Bowling League Health $9,400
Tishomingo County Community Coalition Health $16,744
Total Grants   $1,598,719

 * Grant funds for the Children’s Advocacy Center at Family Resource Center will be held pending the results of their ongoing audit.

The following organizations did not receive grants but had a total of $5,895 in designations from donors during the campaign: Backpack Ministry of Tishomingo County, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Food Depot of Tishomingo County, NMMC Healthcare Foundation-Camp Blue Bird, Salvation Army of Chickasaw County and Salvation Army of Pontotoc.

For more information, contact Mary Ann Plasencia, director of Community Impact, at 662-841-9133 or maryann@unitedwaynems.org