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Programs chosen to share in grant; United Way selects 8 local recipients.

Byline: Priyanka Dayal

WORCESTER - The board of the United Way of Central Massachusetts on Wednesday approved funding for eight new local programs as part of a $3.4 million grant package that will fund 70 programs at 40 local agencies.

The nonprofit organization used an open and competitive process for the first time to select grant recipients for two of its three focus areas: ensuring children's readiness for school and helping people most in need.

United Way volunteers, staff members and board members spent more than a year selecting eight programs from 14 applicants who submitted comprehensive proposals. Timothy J. Garvin, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Massachusetts, called the competitive process "extremely thorough, thoughtful, deliberate and strategic." It also boosts the number of volunteers, he said.

"All nonprofits have the abilities to apply for funding," provided that they fall into the United Way's focus areas, Mr. Garvin said. "The old United Way was not as open."

The organization will spend an additional $900,000 in donor-designated contributions and $800,000 in other community services. In total, that's about $100,000 more than it allotted last year.

"I am in amazement and awe at the level of civic engagement that volunteers in central Massachusetts have in getting it right," Mr. Garvin said. "I am humbled by the number of volunteers and the hours they put in."

A proposal to provide health care to homeless families was one of the new programs selected to receive United Way funding this year.

"Every year Worcester has several families in its shelters," said Frances M. Anthes, president and CEO of the Family Health Center of Worcester, which runs the Homeless Families Program. "They need medical care, but they also need help with parenting issues, getting used to the shelter environment, getting their children back into school."

"We did an application many months ago," Ms. Anthes said. "We're really excited we got the funds."

A large chunk of the additional revenue this year is going to two new parenting programs. Through support groups and family-strengthening sessions, the programs are designed to help parents raise young children.

The United Way is also fueling 33 existing programs under its positive youth development focus area with $1.4 million this year.

The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, the YMCA of Greater Worcester, the YWCA of Central Massachusetts and Community Healthlink are among the agencies receiving grant money.

The United Way of Central Massachusetts, which is funded by donations, has pursued local health, education and quality-of-life issues for 85 years. It will distribute grant money from October

through September 2008.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 27, 2007
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