Our Work


Our 6-Step Grant Process


Non-profit organizations wishing to apply for program funding from United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties must attend the Annual Partnership Meeting. This meeting occurs on the last Wednesday in July at 3 pm. This meeting lasts approximately two hours. This meeting is mandatory for organizations wishing to apply for program funding; attendance is no guarantee an organization’s program will be funded.

The Annual Partnership Meeting allows United Way to discuss first-hand the Board of Director’s strategic funding decision. The meeting starts by collaborating with community partners on how to measure outcomes based on the Board’s strategic plan. This meeting will also cover topics, like: definition of United Way terms; United Way’s expectations of funded programs; and the specifications of programs that United Way will consider funding.

Step 2 – Certification

Non-profit organizations applying for funding for their program must go through United Way’s certification process. This process begins by contacting United Way via email at programs@uwls.org . Simply state that your organization wishes to go through the certification process. Include your contact information. United Way will provide a list of documents for you to submit. Once the documentation has been received, United Way will schedule an on-site visit to explain the grant process. The deadline for certification is August 31.

Step 3 – Application

Once an organization has been certified as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties will invite the organization to submit a grant application online.

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties grants range between $10,000 to as high as $50,000. The average funded program ranges between $10,000 to $25,000.

Also, UWLS grants will only fund a program up to 75% of the total cost of the program. The grant may be used to fund direct program salaries up to 50%; however, UWLS will not fund benefits, taxes, overhead, or building expenses.

The deadline to submit grant applications online is September 30.

Step 4 – Committee Review

Since UWLS grants are highly competitive (meaning that UWLS receives more requests than funds available), the Community Investment Committee scores all grant applications. The committee is composed of board members, community leaders, and United Way staff. The committee uses a template to score each application based the following criteria:

  • Does the program fit one of United Way’s pillars—Education, Health, or Financial Stability?
  • Does the program help accomplish United Way’s strategic goals?
  • Does the budget of the program make sense, or is the per person served ratio too high?
  • Did the organization participate in United Way’s workplace campaign last year and is their goal for this year appropriate?
  • Does the organization have the capacity to deliver the outcomes of the program?

The committee may email the organization to ask clarifying questions about the application. The organization is encouraged to submit answers as quickly as possible. The committee will score the applications to rank them in order of consideration.

The Board of Directors budget the amount of money to award for grants. The committee then spreads the budget, beginning with the highest scoring agency until the budget is depleted. The committee submits their recommendations to the Board of Directors at their meeting on the second Wednesday of December.

Step 5 – Decision by Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties will meet on the second Wednesday of December to make their final decision on the committee’s recommendations. After the Board of Directors has made their decision, each agency will be notified of the Board’s decision.

For those programs that will receive funding, United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties will send the Letter of Agreement for signature. This Letter of Agreement outlines United Way’s expectations of the funded program and the guidelines of our mutual work. The deadline for signing the Letter of Agreement is January 3. Failure to sign the Letter of Agreement by January 3 will result in the forfeiture of the grant.

Funded program recipients will attend a check signing ceremony on the third Wednesday in January at 10 am. These agencies will receive their funds in four payments: one-quarter in January, one-quarter in April, one-quarter in July, and the final payment in October.

Those agencies that did not receive funding will also be notified by United Way of the Board’s decision via USPS. Dr. Alan Holden, CEO and President of United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties, will be available by appointment to discuss how the Committee and the Board made their decision and to review other ways United Way can help.

Step 6 – Verification & Communication

Our funded program recipients are required to submit quarterly reports to United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties. Those deadlines are March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. Failure to submit reports will result in a disruption of funding from United Way. The funded recipients are also required to attend a quarterly meeting to discuss their programs progress. These meetings will be on the third Wednesday of each quarter at 3 pm.

United Way staff, board members, and community leaders will also make unannounced site visits to agencies of funded programs. Site visits allow United Way a first-hand view of the organization’s program and the ability to share that success with the community.

United Way’s Grant Cycle

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties’ grant cycle runs from January to December. UWLS no longer has a separate summer grant cycle. Summer grantees must submit their grant applications by September 30.

Partner Agencies