United Way funding cuts put local nonprofits in peril
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Officials with United Way for Greater Austin announced last week the organization lost $1.2 million in grants. The cuts now have some local nonprofits scrambling to launch emergency donation campaigns - nonprofits like Meals on Wheels and More, which delivers warm meals to the home bound.
“The reality is we had the funding budgeted for meals, and unless we can make that funding up, we will have to cut back on meals for folks that are home bound and disabled in our community that we serve," Dan Pruett with Meals on Wheels and More said.
Effective immediately, Meals on Wheels will no longer receive about $75,000 in grant funding from the United Way for Greater Austin.
United Way Chief Operating Officer Lauren Paver says with donations decreasing over the past couple of years, the group is no longer able to sustain giving out between $3.4 and $3.8 million in annual grants.
"We had to make some really tough decisions that saddened us," Paver said. "I was disappointed and saddened in having to make those calls, but I am also really hopeful that this is a rallying cry to the community to increase fundraising and to get out and support your fellow nonprofits."
Paul Scott with AIDS Services of Austin has launched an emergency fundraising campaign to try to make up the $55,000 grant they lost.
"If this were a natural disaster that happened overnight, the community would be responding immediately. But because this is a defused disaster, which it is, $1.2 million gone out of our service economy, we need for the community to see the problem here and step up and support all the organizations that were affected," Scott said.
Scott says the lack of funding makes a big difference in peoples’ lives.
"A lot of people don't understand that we continue to see an increase in people testing HIV positive and testing positive and diagnosed AIDS at an earlier age," he said.
United Way of Greater Austin is also feeling the impact of the cuts--the group had to lay off two staffers and implement pay cuts to its top executives.
The organization also wanted to note that while it had to cut some grant funding, all donations designated to specific nonprofits in the community will remain.