These FAQs are meant to inform stakeholders and community partners of the new investment process, the rationale behind the process and how the process better supports the Child Well-Being Agenda.
The changes to the our traditional Investment Process represent the next step in a multi-year evolution, triggered by the adoption of the Child Well-Being Agenda in 2016, the increased role of the data in the assessment process and the need to strengthen our grantmaking practices to best position us to achieve our goal of improving the lives of more than 250,000 children by 2027.
Last Fall, United Way embarked on a Redesign Process for grantmaking. The process was facilitated through interviews with key foundation leaders and other United Ways that have made a significant shift in their grantmaking priorities to focus more on place. A Redesign Investment Taskforce was also formed and comprised of executive leaders from national, local foundations, and United Way leadership volunteers. In addition to recommendations on grantmaking strategies to achieve our goal, we received input on a new grants management system.
During our research of best practices in grantmaking, we learned many United Ways have moved to a process with an increase in staff participation in the process. Our staff will conduct the due diligence and vetting with our Community Engagement Committee making the final decisions. This is a move away from the general volunteer-led/staff-managed process of past years.
The new process benefits grantee partners. First, the new web-based platform for grant applications will be less labor intensive and more transparent. Additionally, United Way will begin implementation of a portfolio management approach by United Way staff that builds and strengthens relationships with grantee partners. Grantees should experience communications and engagement that is proactive and regular cadence that will provide helpful information. Another benefit of this approach is that United Way staff will learn about the promising practices, emerging needs of partners and/or potential partnership opportunities outside of the grant making cycle.
Grants will be more focused on “place” – specifically, areas of low and very low child well-being. Investments will also be made to increase the capacity of partner agencies to operate more effectively in those areas, which are often more challenging areas to work. With a goal of changing the lives of more than 250,000 children by 2027 in the low and very low areas of child well-being, we must be intentional in the programs and resources that we invest in throughout Greater Atlanta’s 13-county region.
Because advisory boards are as unique as the county they represent, it is important to create a model that has a degree of flexibility within the grantmaking process. Building awareness and engagement in low & very low Child Well-Being communities will be an integral part in the enhanced model. Regional Directors will work with their respective Advisory Boards to ensure the local Child Well-Being priorities set are directly aligned to one of the Investment Priority areas (Strong Learners, College Career Ready, Economic Stability, Brighter Future) Providing three approaches with parameters empowers the local advisory board to select the approach that best serves their county.
The first of multiple grant cycles began in July 2020 with final grant decisions announced in late August 2020.
The Child Well-Being Mission Fund grant will have an 18-month duration. September 2020 – February 2022.