Our 6-Step Grant Process

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties (UWLS) is in the community impact business. UWLS offers grants to fund strategic, outcome-based programs of partner agencies. These grants are highly competitive and must help UWLS “move the needle” in a positive direction to “improve the quality of life” in our community. These goals are determined by community statistical information provided by the Florida Dept. of Education, Florida Dept. of Health, and the ALICE Report of United Way of Florida.
CLICK HERE to view the UWLS Strategic Funding Priorities for 2017-18.

Step 1 – Annual Partners Meeting

Non-profit organizations wishing to apply for program funding from United Way must attend the Annual Partners 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 2017 Annual Partners’ Meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 26 at 3 pm at the City of Leesburg Library on Main Street. This meeting is mandatory for non-profit organizations wishing to apply for program funding.
CLICK HERE to download the powerpoint presentation from the July 26, 2017, meeting.

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 State that your organization wishes to go through the certification process. Include your contact information. United Way will provide a list of documents 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. Only agencies that have attended the Annual Partners Meeting in July will be invited to submit a grant application. UWLS will accept only one application per FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number). 
United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties grants range between $10,000 to as high as $50,000. The average funded program is between $10,000 to $25,000.
Also, UWLS grants will only fund a program/project up to 75% of the total cost of the program. The grant may 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.
CLICK Here to download the online application instruction manual.
CLICK Here to go to a test application sample. Username is TestAgencyUWLS.  Password is: pwd123
WARNING: The online application platform closes promptly at 5 pm on September 30. UWLS will not accept hand-delivered, paper applications.

Step 4 – Committee Review

Since UWLS grants are highly competitive (meaning that UWLS receives more requests than funds available), the Community Investment Committee reviews and 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 on 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 cost-per-person ratio too high?
  • Did the organization contribute to United Way’s campaign last year, and is their goal this year appropriate?
  • Does the organization have the capacity to deliver the outcomes of their 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 budgets 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 for final approval.

Step 5 – Board Decision and Notification

The Board of Directors of United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties will meet on the second Thursday of December to make their final decision on the committee’s recommendations. After the Board of Directors makes their decision, each agency will be notified of the Board’s decision.
For those agencies 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 agency and the guidelines of our mutual work. The deadline for signing the Letter of Agreement and returning it to United Way is January 5. Failure to sign the Letter of Agreement and returning it by January 5 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 disbursements: one-quarter in January, one-quarter in April, one-quarter in July, and the final payment in October. Agencies must be present to receive the funds. Checks will NOT be mailed. Failure to be present will result in the forfeiture of that quarter’s disbursement.
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 review other ways United Way may be able to help those agencies. This includes scholarships to attend various non-profit training courses at the Edyth Bush Institute. This is available only to those agencies that did not receive program funding in this grant cycle.

Step 6 – Collaboration and Verification

Our funded program recipients are required to submit quarterly reports online to United Way. Those deadlines are March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. (WARNING: The online report platform closes promptly at 5 pm on the deadline date. UWLS will not accept hand-delivered, paper reports.) Failure to submit reports will result in a disruption of funding from United Way. The funded program recipients are also required to attend quarterly Collaboration Meetings. These meetings are scheduled on the third Wednesday of January, April, July, and October at 3 pm.
United Way staff, board members, and community leaders will also make agency visits to funded programs. These 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.