Meagan Flippin (2)


United Way of Rutherford & Cannon Counties has embarked on a new way of providing its grant money, a change that officials say they hope provides a more strategic impact on serving the community.

“This is a community effort,” said Riley Wilson, the organization’s marketing director.

Last month, the non-profit organization announced six specific goals it plans to achieve by 2030. Those goals are: 

• Decrease drug-related overdose deaths and suicides by 25 percent or more.

• Improve mental health by 25 percent or more.

• Eighty percent or more of households will pay less than 30 percent of their income on housing. 

• Fifty percent or more of children will be kindergarten ready.

• Thirty percent or less of public school students and adults will be overweight or obese.

• Seventy-five percent or more of households will be above the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold. These people work but have little in savings and are vulnerable.

United Way is switching from its traditional model of providing grants to non-profits that have applied for funds to a model of issuing requests-for-proposals (RFPs) to meet specific goals, said Meagan Flippin, president and CEO. For example, United Way will issue an RFP for a goal such as reducing drug-related overdoses, and organizations seeking to address that issue will apply.

The changed model is the culmination of a process that began in February when United Way held approximately 20 focus group meetings and conducted an online survey with stakeholders, Flippin said. United Way believes the new model will give partner agencies more input, she said. More than 60 organizations have signed on.

United Way will meet with agencies again later in the year and start issuing RFPs in January.

The goal is not to simply measure how many people walk through the doors of a partner agency, but to measure how many lives are changed, Flippin said.

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