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Area groups receive United Way funding

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | January 26, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT — A number of local organizations are among those which received funding from the United Way of North Idaho earlier this month.

Receiving funds were Kaniksu Land Trust, which received $30,000 for place-based learning; Sandpoint Youth Center, which received $10,000 toward its after-school center; Dogsmile Adventures, which received $7,500 for its veteran sailing team program; and UCAN (Unique Center for Athletes of All Needs), which received $8,500 toward youth adaptive sports and physical therapy equipment.

All do incredible work and are deserving of the grants, said Jack Dyck, longtime Sandpoint resident and United Way board member.

"Supporting these four organizations is consistent with our mission to improve the lives of the people in our communities by helping provide for the financial stability, health and education of those people in our community," Dyck said.

In total, UWNI's 2022 Community Care Fund investments led to nearly $300,000 in grant awards to local organizations that advance health, education, and financial stability.

Grants were awarded to 23 organizations in Kootenai, Bonner, and Shoshone counties through a competitive application process that includes thorough vetting by panels of local volunteers.

KLT's place-based learning model brings students and teachers outdoors to learn and engage with nature, officials said. As part of the program, land conservancy staff provides direct programming as well as mentoring and professional development support to school staff.

The goal is to "rewind" school yards and construct outdoor learning structures at each of the seven school locations.

The teen center, which supports local youth through constructive after-school programs, will use the funds to provide nutritious meals, homework help, games and classes for teens in grades 7-12.

Dogsmile Adventures, which provides therapeutic sailing opportunities for local veterans, will use grant funding to help create two teams of six local veterans. Those teams are expected to compete in summer racing programs offered on Lake Pend Oreille.

The nonprofit, 501(c)3 therapeutic sailing program creates opportunities for people to discover healing and potential through sailing adventures, founder and executive director Jon Totten said.

"While our focus is on underserved communities, such as veterans, youth, and those facing the challenges associated with addiction, domestic violence, and physical or mental disabilities, our programs are open to anyone who believes that spending time on a sailboat will make them feel better," Totten said.

United Way grant funding will help UCAN purchase adaptive equipment, including a climbing wall and a treadmill/harness system, to provide better access for special needs children, teens and adults in North Idaho.

United Way officials said the award pool is created through payroll deductions of hundreds of generous employees. This year, additional funds were leveraged from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare directed toward out-of-school education and behavioral supports.

The organizations demonstrate strong leadership, fiscal accountability, collaboration, and a focus on the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population.

“This year especially the impact councils looked to support organizations that are addressing the deep disparities caused by the ongoing COVID pandemic,” says April Fortier, community impact chair for the United Way board of directors. “The pandemic exposed critical shortcomings in our economy and intensified hardships for many households who were already struggling. Fortunately, our community organizations are incredibly creative at adapting to meet emerging needs.”

Funded programs align with United Way’s broad strategic goals. In education, this includes library literacy outreach to local child cares, summer camps, parenting classes, and quality after-school programs. Financial stability partners include food banks, safe shelter, and resources for ALICE. Nutrition programs, senior supports, infant safety, and mental health are represented in the health impact area.

“We’re proud to be able to extend our community funds to other counties, and that means building stronger connections and relationships with businesses and nonprofits,” said Dyck.

United Way and its funded partners work together to effectively measure and communicate their shared value and impact to the community through semi-annual reporting.

The Community Care Fund is created through workplace campaign contributions, and managed by local volunteers serving on Community Impact Councils. To contribute to the fund, volunteer on a Council, or apply for funding, visit www.uwnorthidaho.org or call 208-667-8112.

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