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WHEATFIELD – The United Way of Greater Niagara announced a new funding policy Monday, focusing on seeking measurable results in the fields of education, health and income.

United Way President Carol G. Houwaart-Diez said the new policy may bring new agencies into the United Way fold while shutting out other longtime partners if their programs don’t fit under one of the three targeted headings.

Agencies and programs must apply for future United Way funding by July 15 so that the selected recipients can be made public by the time the annual fund drive begins in September, Houwaart-Diez said. Applications are available through the United Way of Greater Niagara website.

Agencies that are selected for funding will be promised a three-year commitment from United Way, but they will have to show every year that their programs are producing results in the community.

“What’s different is, we’re telling them what we will fund and what we won’t fund,” Houwaart-Diez said. “This kind of work we’re targeting, we’ll see results quicker.”

The 20 agencies totaling 75 programs that United Way currently supports will be able to keep some funding for a while even if their programs don’t qualify under the new policy. They will be funded at 50 percent of their current rate in 2014 and 25 percent in 2015 before being cut off.

“The committee felt strongly we shouldn’t go from 100 percent to zero,” Houwaart-Diez said. “We kind of wanted to wean them. It could be kind of detrimental to a program to cut off their funding.”

The United Way of Greater Niagara has some reserve funds left over from the two agencies that merged in 2010, the United Way of Niagara and the Eastern Niagara United Way. At that time, partner agencies were told funding rules wouldn’t change for at least two years.

The new approach might spur more donations, the president speculated. “We could attract some donors that maybe overlooked United Way in the past, saying, ‘Oh, they’re doing the same old, same old,’ ” Houwaart-Diez said.

An 18-member task force began work on the plan in January. To produce the county’s priorities, the group used data from several sources, including the county Health Department, the state Labor Department, the state Council on Children and Families and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Examples of health-related programs the United Way would like to fund could include efforts to reduce teenage pregnancy and obesity. Niagara County has among the state’s highest rates of both of those problems.

On the education front, Houwaart-Diez said United Way is interested in early childhood education and assistance. Efforts to prevent teenage substance abuse also could be funded. Income maintenance and assistance with daily expenses will be targeted.

The United Way will hold an open meeting at 5 p.m. June 27 at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn to discuss its new policies further.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com