This is a guest post from a Program Investment Volunteer who evaluated programs in the Prepare for College, Work and Life strategy in the Education focus area. You can see all strategies in Education by clicking here.
My name is Emily, and I have volunteered on the program investment teams for three years. I became involved after a friend sent me an email telling me about the opportunity to engage.
I wanted to give my time to the United Way because it is an organization I believe in wholeheartedly. The United Way has always been like an umbrella organization to me. They give funding to a wide range of groups who address a variety of needs in the community. I feel that by volunteering I can learn more about those other organizations to whom the United Way gives assistance and help guide the partner agencies into improving the work that they do while ensuring the monies donated to the United Way are distributed in the best way possible.
The first two years I evaluated in the Health program, but this year I evaluated the Education programs in the Prepare for College, Work, and Life strategy. It was quite a daunting task as there were 26 total agencies requesting funding for a total of $3 million.
The volunteers’ work in the process will help the community be better off because all of the agencies receiving funding were carefully and thoughtfully vetted to make sure the organization has a proven impactful track record of helping the community in which they serve. Helping the ones in need in the community makes a better community. Evaluating these agencies from an educational stand point means that these agencies are preparing individuals for learning or college or even a career. Assisting even one person to start out on the right foot by providing the proper support can make all the difference in the life of a child. These agencies, collectively, are helping hundreds and hundreds of children in the Greater Baton Rouge Area.
Two things really stood out to me during this process: the compassion and integrity of everyone involved in the process and the amazingly small world in which many of these children live and the need that resonates from there.
The number one thing I would like the community to know about this process is how thorough the process is. Volunteers spent hours reading and evaluating the information submitted by the agencies, then we gathered together to discuss, sometimes heatedly, the virtues and short fallings of each agency. It is a difficult process, but extremely rewarding.
If you would like to join Emily as a volunteer, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.