Each year around this time, we begin to get the question, “Now that the annual campaign is over, what does United Way do the rest of the year?”
Great question! United Way is busy with innovative projects and collaborative community efforts all year long, even when we’re in the thick of campaign efforts. Here are three projects United Way is proud to be a part of.
The first is a grant-funded initiative called Project BEST, or Building Effectiveness Strategically Together. This project is all about collecting information on the strengths and needs of our local nonprofit human services sector. With this information, we can work with local agencies to build upon our strengths, increase collaboration and maximize the effectiveness of the services being provided to those in need.
The next project is BIG, or Boone Impact Group, a unique collaboration between United Way, City of Columbia and Boone County. Meeting weekly, this group is tasked with sharing information to prevent duplicating our work as funders, and to ensure that agencies are receiving adequate funding and support. Through this collaboration, BIG is playing a critical role in identifying resource gaps, helping agencies to maximize their services, and coordinating the strengths and abilities of the city, county and human services sectors to tackle challenging social issues together.
The third is an initiative that United Way is proud to participate in alongside several community partners, including the city, county, VA, The Salvation Army and other human services agencies. Built For Zero is a national effort to help committed communities like Columbia end homelessness.
Coordinated by the New York City-based nonprofit Community Solutions, Built for Zero centers on the “housing first” model designed to offer permanent, affordable housing to those experiencing homelessness, and then provide support services to help them avoid returning to homelessness. With the help of a Missouri Health Foundation grant, United Way will have the opportunity to travel to a three-part conference in Washington, D.C., starting in April to learn how to implement the housing first model. This initiative continues the important work of the 2016 Columbia-Boone County Homelessness Summit held at city hall last November.