For at least four decades, the Dartmouth community has partnered with the Granite United Way to raise money for organizations that serve area residents in need. This year, faculty and staff raised more than $290,000.
“It’s always inspiring when our community members work together to help meet the most critical needs of our neighbors,” says Executive Vice President Rick Mills, who chairs the annual giving campaign.
What does the United Way do with the money it receives from donation drives like Dartmouth’s? Patricia Bray, a senior business systems and data analyst at Dartmouth, has the answer. For the past three years, she’s volunteered as a grant reviewer, working on one of several committees that decide which organizations can be funded by the donations the United Way receives through its annual campaign.
“The strength of the United Way is that dollars contributed by Upper Valley residents are then allocated by Upper Valley community members, in order to serve our local needs and priorities,” says Bray.
Funding this year went to several large, well-known Upper Valley agencies, including the Upper Valley Haven and WISE, and also to many lesser-known organizations, including Hartford Community Restorative Justice, White River Junction, Vt.; Special Needs Support Center, Lebanon, N.H.; Horse Meadow Senior Center, North Haverhill, N.H.; the Mentoring Project of the Upper Valley, Bradford, Vt.; and Willing Hands, Lebanon. A complete list of funded programs is available on the Granite United Way’s website.
Each request for funding is evaluated on the basis of community need, the program’s projected impact and outcomes, its financial information, and how well the program aligns with the United Way’s mission of “Learn, Earn, and Be Healthy,” Bray says.
Mike Chamness, a grants officer in Dartmouth’s Office of Sponsored Projects, also volunteered on a grant review committee this year. “It was very enlightening,” he says. “It’s pretty compelling how many organizations there are in the Upper Valley doing such critical work.”
The funding that the grant review committees decide on comes from unrestricted donations to the Granite United Way—money that a donor gives without designating a specific organization or program the donation should go to. This year, all but $48,000 was pledged as unrestricted funding.
“Being part of this review process has helped me understand the importance of the unrestricted dollars I give to the United Way each year and helped me advocate to friends and co-workers about the importance of supporting our local United Way,” says Bray.
Alex Mainor, a research project coordinator for The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, volunteered on a grant committee that reviewed proposals from health and wellness nonprofits. “Whether it be dental care for low-income residents, support services for older adults, or counseling services for at-risk youth, every dollar the Granite United Way distributes goes to a deserving program that is vital to improving the health and well-being of our community,” he says.
With the upcoming Day of Caring, set for Sept. 7, the Dartmouth community has another way to help area organizations. The annual Granite United Way project organizes teams of volunteers to work on projects including painting, yard clean-up, general repair work, and much more. People can volunteer for a daylong shift, or work from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. Watch Vox Daily for sign-up.
Rebekah Henson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.