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United Way giving more money to member charities

Charlotte’s United Way is giving out extra money to the majority of its 82 partner charities for the first time since 2010.

Beginning July 1, grants will grow to $17 million – a $500,000 increase over last year.

United Way board member Tim Morrissey said the agency felt compelled to increase funding – even if it means taking money from reserves – because of increased need in the community.

“This is a big day,” he said. “We are confident that we have reached a level of stability. ... We don’t want a roller coaster, with funding going up and down for agencies. We think this level is something we can maintain.”

More than half of all United Way member charities earned an increase: 47 of the 82 agencies funded by United Way across five counties. The median increase was $8,000. The highest increase was $63,200 for the Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte.

United Way Executive Director Jane McIntyre said the improved economy is a major reason the board felt confident enough to give the extra money.

“A more stable workforce made the difference in our campaign increase,” said McIntyre, noting that 97 percent of the campaign’s donors followed through on pledges. “We’ve had double-digit increases in a bunch of corporate campaigns.”

Nine agencies (13 charity programs) will see a median funding decrease of 10 percent, officials said. In some cases, charities asked for less money. In other cases, the charity programs did not show the desired impact on critical community needs.

Over the past three years, McIntyre has edged up the campaign’s annual goals from $20.9 million to $21.5 million.

At the height of its financial struggle in 2009, the agency’s annual campaign fell $15 million short from the year before. The result was a series of cuts to member charities, some losing around 40 percent of their money.

That shortfall was blamed on the impact of the recession on Charlotte’s banking community, and donor backlash over a $1.2 million pay package given to former United Way head Gloria Pace King.

United Way fired King and adopted sweeping changes, including cutting the size of its staff and its board of directors.

Some of the agencies that got extra money will be receiving as little as $500, but nonprofit leaders said any increase is encouraging after years of cuts or flat funding.

Carson Dean, head of the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, said his agency is getting about $3,500 more. Those dollars will be used to fill prescriptions for homeless men, using pharmacies that offer the shelter financial breaks on orders.

“Dozens of men will be getting hundreds of prescriptions filled this year with this money, and we’re talking critical, life-saving stuff like high blood pressure medicine and insulin,” Dean said.

Among the agencies getting the biggest increases:

•  Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte: $63,200 increase to help fund the 64-bed expansion of the Center of Hope; open a second Boys & Girls Club in Union County; and add a computer learning module for Boys & Girls Clubs in Mecklenburg.

•  YMCA of Greater Charlotte: $48,343 to expand the Y Readers program to two additional elementary schools and for a seniors program focused on diabetes prevention.

•  The Center for Community Transitions: $47,500 to implement the job readiness curriculum developed for six agencies by the Workforce Development Task Force and to expand the Empowering Kids with Incarcerated Parents program to four additional schools.

•  The Relatives: $35,000 to support a new On Ramp program serving young adults (age 16-24, many aging out of foster care) with case management and skill-building services, helping find jobs and avoid homelessness.

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