United Way community grants total more than $1M

United Way of Whatcom County will give $1.16 million in grants to 42 local organizations that advance education, income and health, according to a recent announcement from the nonprofit organization, which is based in Bellingham.

Additional grants of more than $263,000 were contributed to donor-specified programs.  More funds will be invested in community initiatives throughout the year, such as an early literacy outreach program with the Ferndale School District, financial literacy support through the Whatcom Asset Building Coalition and fiscal sponsorship of Project Homeless Connect.

“United Way of Whatcom County has a vision of a community where all children have the necessary skills to succeed in school, where all families have the resources to achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency, and where all individuals have access to crucial healthcare services,” said Peter Theisen, the nonprofit’s president and CEO, in a press release.

Funding will be given to a healthy lifestyles program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County. The program provides ways for youths to receive healthy meals and snacks and learn about healthy habits by targeting school-age children with after school food and nutrition programs.

Pre-teens learn prevention programs for healthy bodies and minds, and there is also a gardening component so that youth can grow and prepare their own food. The program serves more than 500 youths.

Several other education-based programs received funding: Birth to Three Program at the Whatcom Center for Early Learning, early learning and day-care programs at the Whatcom Family YMCA and Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center, GRADS Teen Parent program through Squalicum High School, and the Academic Success Program of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County.

United Way of Whatcom County has allocated a significant increase in funds for the Literacy Services for Adults program at the Whatcom Literacy Council. Demand for the program is growing. It has a waiting list of more than 20 adults seeking literacy services.

In addition to the Literacy Services for Adults program, several other income-based programs received funding in order to support basic needs, financial literacy, skill building, and housing stability: the Food Distribution Program through the Bellingham Food Bank, the Domestic Violence Shelter and Housing Program at Womencare Shelter, the Homeless Housing Program at the Opportunity Council, and Sun House.

The Core Services at Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Service of Whatcom County, also known as DVSAS, received increased funding due to recent increases in client cases with complex needs and heightened violence. DVSAS supplies a 24-hour helpline, advocacy counseling, legal assistance and medical appointment support for individuals who have experienced abuse.

Along with the Core Services Programs at DVSAS, other health-related programs that received funding include: Child Abuse Prevention program through Brigid Collins, Integrated Behavioral Health Program at Interfaith Community Health Center, Support Group Services through the Health Support Center, and Rainbow Recovery Center through Whatcom Counseling and Psychiatric Clinic.

United Way of Whatcom County is online at www.unitedwaywhatcom.org.

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