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Community Foundation, United Way team up

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Two organizations known for their efforts to improve the quality of life for northwest Louisiana have teamed up to streamline their process and improve their strengths.

The Community Foundation of North Louisiana and the United Way of Northwest Louisiana announced their partnership Wednesday.

This joint effort is aimed at to combining The United Way’s strength in securing work-place giving with The Foundation’s ability to make strategic community investments. The organizations’ directors say the partnership will reduce administrative costs and promote an aligned community investment portfolio.

“While we’ve always asked our non profits to collaborate, we are now collaborating ourselves. With this new arrangement, administrative costs will be lessened so there will be additional funds available for community investment, United Way will be on a prospective grant cycle, and it will make it easier for nonprofits to apply for grants,” said Paula Hickman, Executive Director of The Community Foundation.

“United Way shares almost verbatim the same objective the Community Foundation does. One day I was thinking through how we could be more strategic and increase our effect in the community and I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t you walk the 50 feet across the street and see if you could work together stronger than apart,’” said Dr. Bruce Willson, President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana.

UW NWLAUnited Way will establish a field of interest fund at the Community Foundation, with all money set aside for a deadline of April 1, 2014.

In addition to funds raised, Hickman and Wilson will raise one-time dollars to ensure recipients can expect to receive a defined amount.

“In a time of limited resources and great need, it is imperative that those agencies who serve the public good explore specific ways to leverage resources and effort to create the impact this community deserves,” said Hickman.

The next steps for the partnership include the United Way and The Community Foundation aligning grant making. Three representatives from the United Way Board of Directors will serve with The Foundation’s seven-member Board of Directors in awarding the United Way grants. The alignment of grant making will help both the United Way and The Community Foundation achieve greater community impact.

All money distributed from the fund will be used for health, education, income and basic needs. Foundation will align the grants within these categories to create the most impact.

“(This collaboration) enhances what the United Way does because we’re working in collaboration with what the CF is doing. They have created a marvelous job of a framework for what is needed in the community and we can become a part of the puzzle that improves the lives of people,” said Willson. “You’ve got this synthesis of thoughts and ideas within a set framework.”

The United Way of Northwest Louisiana rallies the community for social change, and are committed to addressing current problems and reducing future needs. For more than 90 years, they have worked to invest community resources in programs of partner agencies and impact initiatives that generate results in education, income, health and basic needs.

The Community Foundation manages more than 170 funds created by individuals, families and businesses which are invested and then are returned to the community in the form of grants to a wide variety of charitable endeavors, including the arts, economic development, education and social services.

“I don’t know what’s coming down the pike and what obstacles we’ll face, but it sure will be fun,” said Willson.