Every year, generous residents of the Coulee Region entrust the Great Rivers United Way with their donation dollars, and in turn the Onalaska-based nonprofit is inviting community members to weigh in on how their contributions are spent.
Each fall, the Great Rivers United Way seeks philanthropic-minded individuals to serve as community investment volunteers, scouring through and scoring grant applications and compiling those of exceptional merit and mission for board consideration.
Annually, GRUW receives about 60 grant applications, with the current batch of submissions totaling more than $2.5 million in requested funding.
Around 100 community investment volunteers are needed to screen applications for logic, structure, progress monitoring strategy and fulfilment of one or more of GRUW’s strategic objectives: positively impacting our youngest community members; stabilizing household economic situations so people experience thriving lives; and supporting a healthy and socially connected community.
“It’s a really great way to learn more about the great programs and services in our area,” says Liz Evans, community impact director for GRUW and a former community investment volunteer. “(Community investment volunteers) are a really valuable part of the process.”
Volunteers will undergo training in December to help them evaluate applications, of which they will be assigned five to seven and given six weeks to review.
In January, volunteers will gather to discuss which grants they believe should be fully or partially funded, and which don’t meet the criteria. The group will then put forth a proposition to GRUW’s Fund Distribution Steering Committee, which will in turn submit a final recommendation to the GRUW board of directors.
“We want the community to have a say in how these funds are spent,” Evans says.
Dawn Sonsalla, a community investment volunteer of more than 12 years, highly recommends making the commitment of 10 to 13 hours.
“I volunteer because I have been on the other side of the fence and understand what it is like to need help,” Sonsalla said. “It is also a bit selfish — it just makes you feel good to volunteer.”
For more information on becoming a community investment volunteer, visit www.gruw.org/communityinvestment.
“We want the community to have a say in how these funds are spent.” Liz Evans, community impact director for GRUW
Emily Pyrek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We want the community to have a say in how these funds are spent."
Liz Evans, community impact director for GRUW
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