For the first time since announcing its new strategy for grantmaking, the Greater Twin Cities United Way announced Monday that it's awarding $14 million in grants this year to nearly 100 organizations.
The grants, which will be distributed July 1, are going to 95 local nonprofits — ranging from Minneapolis-based Loaves & Fishes, which provides free meals to people in need, to the St. Paul-based Science Museum of Minnesota. The grants were given to nonprofits that work on homelessness and hunger issues, help children meet developmental milestones to prepare for kindergarten and help adults earn sustainable wages.
"This was an incredibly competitive process," said Acooa Ellis, senior vice president of community impact at United Way, adding that the 95 grantees were selected out of 171 applicants. "We have long been a really critical funder in the community."
The Twin Cities chapter is one of the largest in the nation, and many nonprofits have relied on its grants for years.
While the amount Loaves & Fishes received from United Way decreased this year, Executive Director Cathy Maes said that, without United Way's grant, which equals about 4% of the nonprofit's revenue, she would have had to cut staff or programs. "We're really thankful that United Way has always funded us," she added.
Last year, United Way announced that it would narrow the focus of its grantmaking after revenue declined, eliminating grantmaking categories such as legal services and independent living, which often help seniors and people with disabilities.
United Way revenue, largely driven by workplace giving campaigns, has declined from a record $101.9 million in fiscal 2014 to $76 million in 2017 — reflecting a national shift in how people give. As a result, the organization has turned to different methods to attract a new generation of donors. The organization is also searching for a new leader since longtime CEO Sarah Caruso retired last summer.