United Way of the National Capital Area announced Jan. 19 that it is awarding more than $1.75 million to 161 of its 737-member nonprofit groups in the Washington area.
The 256 programs receiving money fall into three categories of need: education, with $540,077 for 72 programs; financial stability, with $630,506 for 84 programs; and health, with $601,553 for 100 programs. Some organizations applicants were given multiple awards for several of their programs.
Bill Hanbury, United Way of the National Capital Area president and chief executive, said that donors can give to a specific group or to a community-impact fund in one of the organization’s regions: Alexandria, Arlington, Loudoun, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Prince William counties, Fairfax County/Falls Church and the District.
Hanbury said a group of 149 leaders and volunteers judged each grant applicant to decide which groups are most likely to help the community and would best utilize their share of the $1.75 million.
Although many causes, such as youth mentoring, are important in the Washington area, Hanbury said, this year’s focus has been on workforce development and battling unemployment.
“For all the energy and all the bounty that is the National Capital Area’s economy, there are a whole bunch of people who don’t have the basic competencies to be able to enter a highly energized workplace,” he said.
Latino Economic Development Corp. seeks to build on its drive for community change by helping Latinos and other Washington area residents prevent foreclosures and start and expand small businesses.
“A lot of people who are unemployed are thinking about self-employment,” communications and advocacy director Ash Kosiewicz said. “People who have experience in certain industries see an opportunity to start a small business. They might not know exactly how to do it, but they have an instinct, and it’s something tangible, something they can take ownership for.”
The grant for Latino Economic Development Corp. will help fill the funding gap caused by government money cuts. Unaudited numbers show about 13 percent less last year, Kosiewicz said. The award is primarily designated for the homeownership program, helping residents modify home loans and for programs on personal finance.
“People believe that their roots are being laid down here,” he said. “They’ve put a lot of time and energy into this region, and knowing what it means to actually have a personal budget, to have good finances, that’s going to be the foundation upon which they stay in their homes and provide a stable place for their families, and then that’s going to strengthen their communities in the process,” Kosiewicz said.