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United Way Cutting Funds for 15 Programs, Citing New Focus

The United Way of Marathon County is making some changes.

In order to make a greater impact on community issues, members are focusing on four specific areas.

And that means trouble for the programs being left behind.

"We wanna make more of an impact on those needs and those critical issues, so in order to do that we need to have more dollars to focus on those areas," said Joanne Kelly, United Way's executive director.

Areas like meeting basic financial needs, addressing domestic violence, alcohol abuse prevention, and helping at-risk youth.

But that means $208,000 in cuts to programs not fitting into the new criteria in 2010. That amount will double in 2011.

Of the 72 currently funded programs, 56 align with the new United Way Road Map, but that's driving stress into the 15 programs left behind.

Like the Boy Scouts of America. The local Samoset Council will lose $50,000 for their traditional scouting program when all cuts are final.

"For us that means we're going to have to spend more time fundraising and less time delivering programs, not the model we want to use," said Mike McCarthy, executive director of the council.

They're already strapped for cash.

"United Way has determined we don't fit the parameter of at-risk population, for us that's been a bit frustrating because we serve all children," McCarthy said.

However, United Way will still fund the scout's Every Youth Counts program, which deals directly with at-risk youth.

The Neighbor's Place will lose $7,000 for their Storyteller's Network.

It's a program that tutors Hmong child care providers.

"It came out of an idea that since so many of them had limited English skills that it would be a nice thing to provide this kind of help in Hmong," said Tom Rau, executive director.

Rau, whose been part of the focus groups studying where United Way dollars should be sent, is a little more prepared for the change.

"On the good side, there's been a lot of time for us to think about this and to decide how we were going to move ahead," he said.

The Neighbor's Place will be working with other organizations to secure funding for the program they intend to hold onto.

Kelly stresses the choices weren't easy, but a result of focus groups filled with hundreds of community members and their recommendations.

"There are many, many good programs and we need to make choices in tough times and resources are limited and the needs are out there," she aid.

And they likely will not go away.

Last year The United Way did meet its fundraising goal. Over the next year members will decide where the extra funds will go.

To see the complete list of programs to be cut, click on the link above or click United Way List of Programs to Cut


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