Community Impact

Community Impact Overview

Basic Needs,  Education,  Income, Health –  The building blocks of a successful life.

United Way of the Lowcountry (UWLC) believes that everyone is entitled to basic needs, a quality education, a family- sustaining income and good health. And we’re not alone. Our focus on these priority areas were reinforced by the feedback we received from YOU, the community, through our open community conversations.

Through our funding, we work to ensure sure people get the support services they need right now, while simultaneously addressing the root causes of key issues – that’s how we create true community impact.  We know that by improving education for all children, we’re setting them on the path to high school graduation and college success. We know that those children will go on to hold skilled jobs and be financially equipped to support their families.  We know that good health is directly linked to a successful life.

Most importantly, we realize that when we make sure a family’s basic needs are met, and when we improve education, income and health at a community level, we all benefit.


Community Impact Process

For the upcoming funding cycle (2018-2020), UWLC is currently accepting applications from all 501(c)(3) health and human service organizations serving Beaufort and Jasper Counties who have a role to play in helping to address the priority area of Education and Health.

This is an open application process that funds programs in two-year cycles, with a 15% reduction in the second year allocation amount.  This step down funding strategy was employed so that programs do not become dependent on United Way grant funding for service provision, and to ensure that programs have a sustainability plan in place.  All programs requesting funding MUST be able to track data using a pre-approved list of standard Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) found below.

Click here for – Community Impact Timeline

Click here for – Community Impact Flow Chart


Pre-Qualification Phase (Education and Health Priority Areas)

Agencies and organizations interested in applying to United Way of the Lowcountry, Inc. (UWLC) for funding must first meet eligibility criteria for funding through the Pre-qualification phase.  This phase begins May 1, 2017 and remains open until 11:59 pm on June 15, 2017.  Those interested in applying must attend one of the five training dates below:

  • May 2nd from 3:00 – 5:00 pm
  • May 4th from 9:00 – 11:00 am
  • May 10th from 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • May 15th from 3:00 – 5:00 pm
  • May 25th from 9:00 – 11:00 am

*This training is MANDATORY and agencies will be provided access to the online software once training has been attended.

The mandatory training will take place at the United Way of the Lowcountry office in Beaufort, which is located at 1277 Ribaut Road.  Seating is limited and applicants should RSVP by calling the United Way of the Lowcountry office at 843.982.3040.

This training will provide agencies/organizations with the information necessary to be competitive in United Way of the Lowcountry’s Community Impact Funding Process.  It also provides the agency/organizations with an opportunity to ask questions about the process or specific requirements.  In preparation, we ask that each agency/ organization representative download the Pre-qualification checklist and review requirements before the mandatory training and bring specific questions with them.

Click here for – Pre-Qualification Checklist


Application Phase

If the organization is eligible to receive funding, based on the Pre-qualification phase, the organization will have from July 1st –August 15th to complete the application and submit.  The applicants who score the highest within each priority area will be invited into the funding process.  The applications will be evaluated by community volunteers using established investment criteria.  Using these criteria, volunteers provide the critical guidance needed to invest in programs that provide quality services and community partners that maintain the highest levels of accountability and transparency.

As stated above, all programs requesting funding MUST be able to track data using a pre-approved list of standard Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).

Click icons for Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) related to Education and Health.  


History Concerning the Transition to Community Impact 

United Way of the Lowcountry President/ CEO Tina Gentry explains “Community Impact” and what it will mean for our agency and community.

Read more about Community Impact in the Bluffton Sun and also the Island News


Moving forward on the path of progress


Since the 1950’s, United Way of the Lowcountry (UWLC) has leveraged the collective generosity of our region in order to serve those most in need. In June 2015, UWLC’s board approved an exciting new approach to serving those needs that will allow significantly greater impact on the major human services issues facing our region.

As you will see in the information below, the foundation of our Community Impact Plan is a call to action to create lasting, positive impact in the areas of Education and Basic Needs. We believe that through collective, focused action we will advance the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for everyone in the lowcountry.


In the last several years, United Way of the Lowcountry has sought to improve services to better reflect the changing needs of the community.

The Early Grade Reading Program was implemented in 2012 to address the reading levels of children in local schools in grades K-3 by using volunteer tutors. The subsequent success of the program – which has seen at least 95% improved test scores for children enrolled in the program each year of its existence! –  allowed the board to look into adopting a program with greater focus on further addressing the education and basic needs of the community. The United Way of the Lowcountry believes it is the most capable organization to mobilize people, multiply investments and maximize opportunities so people in the lowcountry receive the education and basic human needs required to lead productive lives.

The new Community Impact Plan provides the detailed goals and methods needed to achieve that purpose.

The full implementation of this plan will improve thousands of lives and create lasting, measurable change now and for generations to come. The intentional focus on change at both the individual and system levels is referred to as Community Impact. Just as Community Impact addresses issues at the micro and macro levels, it also calls for a focus on the immediate, pressing needs of today and longer view toward creating and supporting community solutions to reduce those needs in the future.

For well over 50 years, the United Way of the Lowcountry’s approach has been to invest in programs and agencies who work directly with individuals and families. Research shows that while investment in program interventions does create positive change in the lives of those individuals who are targeted, it does not sufficiently tackle the root causes of complex social problems.

This reality calls for a new approach that is more collaborative and works across multiple sectors. United Way has been a key player and often a leader in this “system change” work already and this new plan calls for an even greater acknowledgment and support of this essential work.

By improving systems and conditions in the community and addressing root causes, more people can reach stability and success whether they are touched by a United Way-funded program or not. This is not work that United Way will accomplish alone – strong, diverse partnerships are needed. Some partnerships will require financial commitment while others will call for United Way to commit time, expertise and influence.

Development and Timeline

In early 2012, as the United Way Board began its strategic planning process, United Way staff began the research, learning and development that frame this new Community Impact Plan. Volunteers from the Community Investment panel also contributed countless hours of work dedicated to studying the Community Impact Model in other United Way organizations to better understand how it would impact our current agencies and the community at-large.

As we continue to work with agencies and others in this new model, some agencies may receive an increase in their funding, while others will have a chance to enhance their programs and better focus on outcomes. Since full implementation of the new model will not begin until 2017, there is a two-year time period that allows agencies to focus and prepare for the more competitive funding process to come. From 2017-2020, United Way of the Lowcountry will take steps to begin announcing funding for programs at the end of each successful fundraising campaign in 2020 rather than the beginning, as is the current process. The process moving forward will tentatively look like this:

2015 – Funding for agencies is based on achieving the goal of $2.4 million

2016 – Funding for agencies remains at 2015 levels

2017 – Funding levels begin at zero as new application process takes effect and those programs/agencies that align with Community Impact goals and common outcomes are rewarded with higher funding levels

2020 – Solid funding for programs comes at the end of a campaign, eliminating inaccurate budgeting based on fundraising campaign projections

Building on Past Success

The planning process acknowledges that United Way has taken important steps already towards a Community Impact Plan. During what could be called a first phase for the past decade, United Way:

  • Narrowed the focus to funding agencies who address education, basic needs, income and health.
  • Started focusing on systemic change through facilitating and investing in programs such as Success By 6, Play Partners, VITA, and neighborhood development projects such as the Sheldon project and the St. Helena Island project, not to mention our own Early Grade Reading Program.
  • Funded a fairly consistent group of 33-34 agencies and 44-48 programs with funding levels ranging from $4,000 to over $100,000. With few exceptions, United Way grant funding has not been open to non-partner agencies during that entire period.


This is a bold, progressive plan for dealing with the upstream problems of the Lowcountry while continuing to keep an active role in the downriver emergencies. United Way organizations in Greenville, Columbia, Charlotte and Charleston have already successfully implemented the Community Impact model, and their success is expected to be duplicated in Beaufort and Jasper. The United Way of the Lowcountry believes this model offers the opportunity to utilize United Way’s specific strengths and advantages to attract new investments and make our community a better place to live, work and thrive.


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