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United Way seeks proposals for grants to address education, labor

November 24, 2018

United Way officials want children to be as prepared as possible when they start kindergarten.

They also want to identify community groups that can work in tandem with school districts to provide social and emotional support for those students, as well as programs that address the region’s future workforce and economy.

Those three things are what United Way officials want to help fund through their education focus area impact grant program, which is currently accepting proposals.

“By supporting high-performing community programs, our goal is to help more kids succeed long-term in school and life,” said Westmoreland region community impact director Jesse Sprajcar.

While local school district data indicates 74 percent of children in Westmoreland, Fayette and southern Armstrong counties attend an early-learning program before kindergarten, “we still see too many children who aren’t able to attend a good program,” Sprajcar said. “Often these parents don’t have a publicly funded preschool available close by, or their available programs lack in quality and they can’t afford to pay for a private preschool.”

United Way currently funds 13 community programs with education focus area impact fund grants, totaling over $190,000.

Sprajcar said United Way officials want to support collaborative community-based organizations that can address students with social and emotional issues.

“More students are entering classrooms with needs that cannot be fully addressed by teachers and counselors within the school,” explained Sprajcar. “To combat that, we want to bolster organizations that are working in tandem with schools to support students.”

The final piece of the education puzzle is finding ways to ensure that well-educated, well-balanced students are able to find careers in the region.

“Our region is facing a major labor shortage in the coming years and our education, business and nonprofit community needs to work together to address this issue,” Sprajcar said.

Organizations interested in applying for an education focus area impact fund grant can apply by submitting an online letter of inquiry no later than 4 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2019.

Prospective applicants can attend an information session at 9 a.m., Nov. 9 at United Way’s Greensburg office. To register, contact Melinda Bercik at Melinda.bercik@unitedwayswpa.org or 724-834-7170.

See Unitedway4u.org/non-profits for application materials and more information.

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