Routt County United Way funds all of year’s grant requests after record year of fundraising
Thanks to a record year of fundraising, 23 organizations and 27 programs stretching across Routt County will receive good news this week from Routt County United Way.
“We funded every single request we received this year, which is unusual,” Routt County United Way Executive Director Kate Nowak said. “Usually, there’s something that does not quite fit, but this year, we funded everything, and we almost funded everything 100% because we had so much money.”
Routt County United Way recently completed its grant process and will allocate $500,000 to local nonprofits this week. The nonprofit raised $385,000 plus a $115,000 contribution from the Morgridge Family Foundation. Last year, United Way awarded $285,000.
“It’s a huge increase, and we saw a lot of people come up to the table for the caring community who really wanted to make a difference in people’s lives,” Nowak said of the support Routt County United Way saw this year.
Some of this year’s funds went to six different preschools, including North Routt Preschool in Clark, South Routt Early Learning Center in Yampa and Hayden Valley Preschool in Hayden, in addition to Heritage Park Preschool Day Care, Young Tracks Preschool and the Family Development Center in Steamboat Springs.Those organizations received between $10,000 and $20,000 to be used to help families pay for their children’s tuition.
United Way also allocated money to The Boys & Girls Clubs of Steamboat Springs, Partners in Routt County, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and the youth resiliency program at Northwest Colorado Health.
“We did a lot of preschool scholarships, which is really important to get kids that are low income into preschool and help families that are struggling,” Nowak said. “Sometimes, these families just need a little extra help to get their child in an extra day of preschool so that they can get to work. These preschool scholarships did that.”
Child care, however, is just one of several issues that United Way wanted to address with these allocations. In the wake of COVID-19, supporting organizations that provide mental health to the community was also important, Nowak said, so $83,000 will be going directly to organizations that address mental health and crises.
That’s important for a local nonprofit such as REPS (Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide), according to its Executive Director Mindy Marriott.
“With the allocations that we receive from (United Way), we’re able to increase awareness and to continue to provide complimentary and confidential counseling services to those in the community who need it,” Marriott said. “It helps us continue to work towards zero suicide and keeping our community as safe and healthy as possible.“
Marriott said in the past year her organization has seen a 60% increase in referrals and crisis calls.
“The increase in referrals and crisis calls doesn’t necessarily mean that we have an increase in people who are struggling,“ Marriott said. ”It could mean that we’ve done such a tremendous job the past several years on education and training that people now are aware of who to go to for resources.”
Both Marriott and Nowak recognized the pandemic has come with challenges for residents that are likely to continue for some time.
“I feel passionate that we have to have the support crises services in our community because you never know when you’re going to need them,” Nowak said.
Part of the allocations announced this week will also provide funds for school therapists, transportation for crises services and the living engagement program for seniors living at The Haven in Hayden.
Other nonprofits receiving funds from United Way included LiftUp of Routt County, Routt County Council on Aging’s Meals On Wheels program and Integrated Community, which offers a 24/7 crisis line as well as an early childhood education program.
“This is a very important piece for these organizations … but it’s just a piece of their total budget,” Nowak said.
The community stepped up to the table this year providing donations in hard times, and despite their own challenges, corporate partners continued to support United Way 100%.
“Organizations in our community did not waver. Many of them provided a match for employee giving in a time when they could have cut, but they knew how important this funding is for our programs and for the people in our community,” Nowak said. “I think a lot of donors like giving to United Way because they know that we’ll do the whole life cycle. They might have a favorite organization that they like to give to, but they’ll give to United Way because we covered all the bases.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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