Ambitious Goals & Redefining What We Do 

We have some exciting work ahead of us and we want you to be the first to know: we’re looking to make a $1.5 Million impact on Wayne and Union County by 2030.  

United Way of Whitewater Valley serves as an essential connection point to leverage the generous contributions from our donors and matching grant opportunities to make the most impact here at home. Over the last six years, this work has already totaled more than $1 Million that United Way of Whitewater Valley has been able to funnel into Wayne and Union Counties. Now, we’re aiming to exceed that number by 2030 – and it’s going to take some agility and collaboration.  

Let’s talk about it. 

About United Way 

United Way plays a significant role in the communities it serves by mobilizing resources, fostering collaborations, and addressing key social issues. Here are some of the primary roles of the United Way organization: 

  1. Community Impact: United Way works to identify the most pressing needs within a community, such as education, financial stability, and health, and then develops strategies to address these issues effectively. 
  1. Fundraising: United Way conducts fundraising campaigns within communities, raising money from individuals, businesses, and organizations to support local programs and initiatives aimed at improving community well-being. 
  1. Grantmaking: United Way allocates funds raised during campaigns to local nonprofit organizations and initiatives that align with its focus areas, ensuring that resources are distributed where they are most needed and can have the greatest impact. 
  1. Collaboration: United Way brings together various stakeholders, including nonprofits, businesses, government agencies, and community members, to collaborate on solutions to complex social problems. By facilitating partnerships and collective action, United Way helps maximize resources and efforts for community betterment. 
  1. Advocacy: United Way advocates for policies and initiatives that promote social and economic justice, advance education and health outcomes, and support the overall well-being of individuals and families in communities. 
  1. Volunteerism: United Way promotes volunteerism and civic engagement, encouraging individuals to donate their time and skills to support local causes and organizations. 
  1. Capacity Building: United Way provides capacity-building support to nonprofit organizations, helping them strengthen their organizational effectiveness, leadership, and sustainability so they can better serve their communities. 

Overall, the United Way organization serves as a catalyst for positive change in communities, working to create lasting impact and improve the quality of life for all residents. It’s important work and we’re looking to redefine how our local United Way – United Way of Whitewater Valley – specifically leverages these activities to change things for the better in Wayne and Union Counties. The secret to our success so far is collaboration. 

Our Collaborative Work 

We’ve been here for nearly 100 years. That means we’ve seen a thing or two, we’ve built lasting partnerships, and we’ve helped ALICE families navigate the highs and lows over the years. The United Way of Whitewater Valley is strongest when we lean on our ability to collaborate. We assess the needs of the community through partnerships with organizations that keep track of social, health, and economic wellness indicators. This includes organizations like Reid Health, Forward Wayne County, Earlham College, our community schools, and several other trusted sources of data. United Way reviews this data and the identified needs of the community and then examines the services and programs provided by our program partners to see which needs are being served, which programs may be unintentionally duplicating efforts, and if there are gaps in coverage where our ALICE families might be falling through the cracks.  

Our next step in collaboration is to bring all relevant stakeholders to the table to discuss the community’s needs, the opportunities available, and how the organizations can work together to make resources stretch further. United Way is agile: we’re positioned to see a need and address it faster from our unique vantage point. We look at all the needs out there and weigh priorities so that our partner programs focus on problems specific to their individual missions.  

From Our Nonprofits 

Our program partners, such as the Richmond YMCA, are the ones on the front lines working to solve problems. Access to affordable childcare is a hot topic for most communities, but it was especially pressing for Union County as there are only about 62 seats available for childcare compared to the 460 children who could use access to childcare (source: Brighter Futures). That means families of nearly 400 children do not have access to high quality childcare and may be forced to exit the workforce to raise their children. In addition to the lack of seats available, cost is also a barrier to families and they must weigh their wages against childcare tuition rates and carefully consider if they can afford to remain in the workforce or even enter the workforce at all after the birth of a child. Currently, childcare in Union County costs an average of 8.6% of families’ annual income. Childcare is considered affordable when it costs no more than 7% of your annual income. Not only is childcare scarce, but it’s also too expensive for most families. United Way knows that this is a significant issue that plagues families looking to improve their circumstances and it has a lasting impact on children who don’t perform as well as their peers later in life if they don’t get access to high quality childcare. 

The Richmond YMCA worked to develop a program to provide childcare for people who can’t afford it and would be faced with exiting the workforce to care for their children. This community need was identified and the YMCA worked with United Way of Whitewater Valley to find funding. Direct giving (where you give directly to your favorite charity) works well for nonprofits that have a marketing team and a budget to get your attention through events and other fundraising activities. Unfortunately, not every deserving nonprofit is set up to compete like that. They miss out – and you miss out on supporting their work. That’s where we help.  

United Way of Whitewater Valley maximizes your donation. We find matching opportunities for the money that is raised and bring those extra dollars back to the community: that’s money that wouldn’t have come to Wayne and Union County otherwise. We’ll dive more into that in just a moment… 

Part of our work – beyond turning your $1 into $2 or more – is to ensure that the money you donate is doing what you meant it to do. “United Way of Whitewater Valley checks the organizations and ensures the money is going to a true nonprofit – that we’re doing what we say we’re going to do with the funds, we’re meeting a need that has been identified [as important to the community], and we’re filling an important gap,” says Misty Hollis, Executive Director of the Richmond YMCA. With United Way, your donation meets the mission of having an impact. It’s like a guarantee that the funds you donate are going to the organizations best positioned to address the need you want to solve. 

Matching Grants, $1.5 Million, & Your Hard Work 

Every two years, the Indiana United Ways (thanks to the Lilly Endowment) gives each local United Way the opportunity to request dollars for their community through a grant. Grants like this are used to resolve specific issues that fall under our four pillars: access to health, childhood success, economic mobility, and youth success. In the last three cycles, we have been awarded $137,000. The catch is that communities must apply for these funds through your local United Way, demonstrate need, and show that funds are also being raised locally to address those needs through nonprofit program partners. Who else is better positioned to see needs, identify gaps, and convene the community to compete for this funding than us? These incredibly important grants amplify your donations, and they would not have come to our community without a United Way organization.    

During COVID-19, the Lilly Endowment granted funds to the local United Ways for relief from a variety of issues like childcare, training for COVID safety measures, food assistance, economic mobility, family stability and healthcare support. United Way of Whitewater Valley brought a total of $637,000 into Wayne and Union Counties for this essential relief. That’s in addition to what generous donors provided over that time period. Over the last six years, this work has already totaled more than $1 Million that United Way of Whitewater Valley has been able to funnel into Wayne and Union Counties. We’re aiming to do even more now. 

The higher the campaign dollars you and your organization raise for United Way, the more grant support we qualify for in our community. More local donors means that we can apply for even larger grants in the next two-year grant cycle from Indiana United Ways. We’ll be able to make a continued impact on families that are one paycheck away from not being able to go to the grocery store or pay utility bills (our ALICE families).  

We are confident that between your contributions and United Way’s work to maximize those dollars, we’ll distribute another $1.5 Million between now and 2030.  

How We’re Reaching 2030 

We’re going to reach $1.5 Million by 2030 by relying on our strengths in collaboration. We’re recommitting to our role to convene the community and ensure your donations solve these complex problems. We’ll be identifying new sources of funding and maximizing our collective impact. We’re also introducing Karen Pipes as our new Chairman of the Board of Directors for United Way of Whitewater Valley. She brings a wealth of experience, a passion for philanthropy, and a commitment to fostering positive change in our community. Her dedication to our mission and vision, combined with her strategic leadership skills, make her the ideal candidate to lead us into this next phase of growth and innovation.  


Join us in our fight for the health, education, and financial stability of everyone in Wayne and Union counties by donating today. There is a lot of work to be done which means we need your help to make positive changes in our community.   

Get to know more about our program partners working in our four focus areas: childhood successyouth successeconomic mobilityand access to health. Read more about their stories here, or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about what we do at United Way of Whitewater Valley.