Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:32 AM
Photo by Alexis A. Goring. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, center, accepts $185,000 in United Way grants for organizations serving Prince George’s County Feb. 26 at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.
Published on: Tuesday, March 05, 2013
By Alexis A. Goring
The United Way of the National Capital Area awarded grants totaling $185,000 to 22 member organizations serving in Prince George’s County. In total, United Way provided $1.65 million in grant funding to Washington, D.C., area organizations this year.
“United Way is awarding 22 organizations in Prince George’s County who are doing great work making sure our community is not only safe but providing that stand-in-the-gap needs that we see in the county that quite frankly, the government can’t do,” County Executive Rushern Baker said at the check presentation last Wednesday.
“What we’ve said all along is the government can’t do everything, we have to partner and this is just another way that the United Way is partnering with Prince George’s County to award funds to organizations that are doing good,” Baker added. “The other thing that I noticed is that Prince George’s employees stepped up and donated money that went toward this, so we’re very proud of activism in the county itself.”
Funds were created from employee donations at annual workplace giving campaigns, which took place in more than 800 work places in more than 3,000 locations throughout the Washington metropolitan region.
The grants were given with a focus on community impact, to fill in the gaps and address the needs of the community, giving the money where it will do the most good. All of the grants awarded fall in one of United Way NCA’s three community impact areas of Education, Financial Stability and Health.
“The reason we choose those is because in order to have a successful life, you need those three things to work in concert,” said Kelly Brinkley, chief operation officer of United Way. “Education, Income and Health — we call them our pillars. Those are the pillars that we focus on to make every individual successful and to make the community successful, those are the three areas that have to be strong.”
Representing grant recipient Big Brothers, Big Sisters was Michael Brown, who works as senior director of Programs and Child Development.
“We are blessed to have this partnership with United Way,” Brown said. “We’re able to help thousands of children continue in a service that we have to give, and that service is to provide them one-on-one mentoring Big Brothers and Big Sisters, men and women who are dedicated to being committed to at least one year with a child and that commitment goes on to three, four and five years.
“These children, their grade point averages are going up, their self-esteem is improving, just life in particular —graduating from high school, going to college. These are the things that are happening in our communities, and they are continually able to happen because of contributions we continue to get from agencies like the United Way.”
Toni Lewis, founder and executive director of FAME (Foundation for the Advancement of Music & Education Inc.), said her organization was both relieved and “very excited” to learn FAME would receive grant funding.
“Because of the way the economic environment was, we thought we wouldn’t have a chance because things were so tight,” Lewis said. “But we were so excited because we knew that we could double the number of students that we’re able to support last year and this year as well. So based on the funding, it has made a major difference for a lot of the children.”
Those differences include creating opportunities to participate in summertime activities and embracing the chance to become involved in state-of-the-art music technology on a campus environment, which in turn may inspire students to pursue a college education.
United Way’s grant awarding process occurs annually, so it is never too late to contribute. According to Brinkley, all donors in Prince George’s County may give directly to the fund and do not have to go through a workplace giving campaign. Donors can go directly through the website.
“The need always outweighs our financial resources, and so it’s our goal to try to double these grants and we want to as much money as possible to stay in the community,” Brinkley said. “And so, we really want to encourage all donors to look at this fund and consider it as a place they can contribute.”