March 2022
Growing and Evolving
Keeping up with Covid is just the start for United Way

We have featured United Way of Yavapai County before and will continue to cover the organization’s  great work in our community. We may be familiar with our schools and local nonprofits, but most of us have just a vague idea of what exactly United Way does, so a reminder of how profoundly it affects our area is in order.

United Way supports a surprising number of the organizations we know and rely on, such as the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, the YMCA, local food banks, and our schools and libraries. The staff of 5enses maintains contact with UWYC to keep abreast of what programs it is supporting to address current needs, especially as Covid has put extra stress on our lives.

The local agencies of United Way, a worldwide organization, provide grants for  community interventions that support education, economic stability and/or health, with the ultimate goal of healthier communities. It identifies unmet needs, then addresses them through funding programs and networking to create the most positive impact on the largest number of people. I spoke with Kristie Bandy, Community Impact and Education Coordinator, and Nina Seim, Finance and Community Investment Manager, at UWYC for an update on their work and the new programs they are excited about.

One impactful recent development is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. Two years ago the worldwide UW took on the work of making the organization more diverse, equitable and inclusive to reflect the communities it serves. This DEI work has since been built into grant applications, with questions on how an organization implements inclusion in its work environment and with clients. United Way now also offers DEI training, free and available to anyone, in which local speakers discuss different cultures and practices of inclusion. “What we noticed on the grant applications last year were a lot of ‘not-yets’ and ‘in-progresses’,” said Nina. “We are preparing to reach out to our current grant recipients with a promotional email saying, ‘Hey, do you want to bolster your DEI IQ? Come to this workshop to help you move from ‘not-yet’ to ‘in-progress’.”

Pandemic restrictions and safety protocols have led many UW-supported organizations to innovate to safely provide the services their clients rely on. People Who Care, which receives grant funding from UW, typically has volunteers visit the homebound to help them with paperwork or take them to shops or medical appointments. This model became too risky for both clients and volunteers, who are usually elderly themselves. Even before Covid, People Who Care began developing training documents to send to clients, walking them through the process of ordering groceries online or participating in a Zoom call.

Volunteers can now meet with clients via Zoom to stay in touch and help them safely navigate through this time of isolation. Beyond the funding it provides, United Way stays in touch with recipient organizations, because there are times when an agency gets the funding necessary for a program but experiences logistical or staffing challenges, and as a conduit for the community, UWYC can offer helpful suggestions or connections. The pandemic has required numerous organizations to pivot in how they do things, adapting to all the limitations and restrictions imposed by these times.

The YMCA implemented an effective program called Summer Learning Loss to make up for the learning deficit caused by changes in the education system. Another success story is the Peer Assisted Leadership program run by the Parent Teacher Organization in Bagdad, which has had an abundance of support. Teachers and staff are hitting their marks and even going beyond them on their midyear review.

United Way of Yavapai County is an active participant in helping our local organizations provide much-needed services to build and maintain a healthy community. The 2022-2023 grant-cycle Letter of Intent opens on March 7, so organizations planning to apply for grants from UWYC should register now. Information about UWYC, including current trainings and programs offered, as well as blogs with updates on many of their grant recipients, can be found at

Abby Brill is Associate Editor of 5enses.

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