United Way Agency Will Feel Effect of Budget Cut

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COLUMBIA - The Heart of Missouri United Way in Columbia will be cutting its budget by nearly 10 percent and one of its funded partners will feel the effects.

The group fell $1 million short of its fundraising goal of $4 million for last year.

Jim Loveless, the president of Job Point, one of the United Way's funded partners, said his organization uses the money from the United Way to fund scholarships for Columbia residents to learn about getting a job.

"The United Way funding has provided scholarships for young Columbians to learn a trade such as constructing roads and bridges and becoming certified nursing assistants," Loveless said.

Loveless said the cuts will directly affect scholarships.

"We will simply be able to offer fewer scholarships to people," Loveless said. "Our training courses come with a price of course, and one of the nice things about the United Way as well as some other funding sources is it allows us to offer our training to people at no cost to themselves. If we lose the United Way funding, then we will simply not be able to offer that to as many people as we have previously."

Loveless said Job Point received about $100,000 in funding from the United Way. If the cuts are at 10 percent, he estimates Job Point will lose about $10,000.

He also said 2013 was the second year in a row the United Way has failed to reach its goal, but it was expected due to moving to a community impact model.

"They changed the way they allocate their money," Loveless said. "They were pretty sure it was going to have an impact on how much they receive because some people who would have given to the United Way, and had previously, would give directly to the agencies that the United Way would not fund under the community impact model."

Loveless said the community impact model "took a lot of people by surprise." It focuses on lower-income families and children. Loveless said he thinks the philosophy is very good but it has caused some confusion.

"I don't think the community in general, particularly the funded agencies, realized it was going to end up with a focus on children," Loveless said. "I think it's mostly narrowly focused on about the junior high age, so a lot of agencies that were funded and provided adult services, like the OATS buses, got no United Way funding at all after they instituted community impact because their programs weren't dealing with children."

Loveless said he met with Tim Rich, the executive director of the Heart of Missouri United Way, last week to talk about the cuts.

"He was asking me what kind of an impact a cut in our funding would have on our programs and the people that we serve," Loveless said. "We were exploring the most equitable or least negatively impactful way of those funds that may be cut across the board 10 percent of all funded agency or is there a better way to make the same cut? We didn't arrive at any conclusions but we had a great discussion about it, and that is a policy decision that will be made by the United Way board of directors."

KOMU 8 News reached out to the Heart of Missouri United Way for comment but they did not call back.