FITCHBURG — United Way of North Central Massachusetts (UWNCM) recently distributed $799,146 in grants to 40 agencies throughout the community. Funds were disbursed through two grant programs that seek to address the region’s greatest challenges and provide after and out-of-school time opportunities for local children and youth.
Through its Community Impact Fund for 2023-24, UWNCM awarded $616,335 to 31 agencies, funding 40 programs. The Community Impact Fund is a long-standing UWNCM initiative that supports critical programs in the areas of Early Education and Youth Development, Basic Needs and Economic Opportunity & Financial Literacy.
The latest round of grants was awarded in year three of a four-year cycle and is expected to make an impact for over 97,000 households based on results from the previous year, which saw a 32% increase in households served from year one. Funding will be spread throughout the 22 communities in UWNCM’s service area and support a diverse array of programs.
YMCA of Central Massachusetts – Montachusett Branch in Fitchburg received grants for three programs that will provide enrichment opportunities for children from pre-K to youth as well as support services for families.
The agency’s Executive Director, Lisa Welcome, says, “We are so grateful to UWNCM for their on-going support of our initiatives for children and families. This funding will go a long way to further our cause to strengthen the foundations of community through programs and services that support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”
UWNCM also recently distributed $182,810 to 13 agencies through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) After School and Out-of-School Time (ASOST) Program.
Funds were made available through a $4.5 million grant awarded by DESE to a regional effort of United Ways located in Central, North Central and South-Central Massachusetts with the goal of helping after school and out-of-school time programs rebound from impacts of COVID-19.
The most recent distribution is the sixth round of grants awarded and will support after school programs for the 2024 school year, from enabling youth to learn about themselves through nature, to providing positive female role models to young girls in underserved communities.
In total, UWNCM has distributed nearly $1.4 million in DESE grants to local non-profit organizations, public school systems and towns and municipalities, with additional rounds to come.
The Guild of St. Agnes, based in Worcester, received a DESE grant to bring the Snapology program, which introduces students to STEM topics through creative play, to the greater Gardner area.
Katie Sullivan, Director of Communications & Development, Guild of St. Agnes, said, “Our summer Snapology program supported by UWNCM was a huge success! The children love being actively engaged in STEM/STEAM teambuilding projects using toys from LEGO and K’Nex along with programming technologies. This program is a highlight at several of our school age sites, and we are extremely excited to have them back during this school year.”
Speaking about both grant programs, UWNCM Director of Community Impact Judy Tomlinson said, “With these two initiatives, UWNCM is thrilled to support agencies that are tackling critical problems in our community by offering both well-proven and innovative solutions. As always, we are grateful to our donors, community partners and volunteers for joining with us to provide immediate relief to people in need while building a brighter future for all.”
The United Way of North Central Massachusetts serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Ayer, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Pepperell, Lunenburg, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.
(Courtesy of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts)