Grants/Funded Partners

Grants/Funded Partners


Funded Partner Spotlight

This month, we’re continuing our Funded Partner Spotlight series and sharing some success stories about clients served by the fantastic nonprofit programs we fund*.

The Story of Martha

At one of our funded programs, one of their volunteers has been working with a patient named Martha in the Waco area for the last few months and has helped facilitate many improvements in Martha’s life. When the volunteer first started working with Martha, she was shy, hesitant to make a connection, unhappy in her life, and extremely overwhelmed by the healthcare system. Over the course of their relationship together, the volunteer was able to provide ongoing social and emotional support by making weekly home visits to Martha’s home. Through building trust with their assigned patient, the volunteer was also able to assist with other aspects associated with various barriers to care. One of the biggest problems Martha faced was financial insecurity. With the help of the volunteer, Martha was able to apply for various financial aid resources. Another barrier to care was Martha’s inability to drive to medical appointments. The volunteer was able to work with Martha’s case manager at Baylor Scott & White to renew her previously existing transportation service, so now Martha will never miss an appointment. Most recently, Martha expressed a need to the volunteer for some vital medical equipment to aid them in carrying out daily tasks. Martha had been reaching out to her insurance company for help to no avail. The volunteer was able to use their connections to the Second Life Resource Center at Baylor Scott & White Health to supply Martha with this much needed medical equipment in a timely manner. Today, Martha has improved emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing thanks to the relationship she built with this volunteer.

Celebrating Breakthroughs

One of our funded organizations has a tradition where they invite graduates of their GED program to make speeches to gathered friends and families at their graduation ceremonies. Almost without exception, the graduates cite motherhood and the wellbeing of their children as a primary motivation for their educational goals – they want to be better mothers, to support their children’s learning, to practice what they preach about staying in school and getting a diploma, to prove to their daughters and granddaughters and nieces that it’s possible in spite of the barriers so many women face. Hearing the details of their stories of success motivates our funded organization to keep striving and growing their offerings. In fall of 2022, after a geometry lesson, a student came up to thank the volunteer math teacher. In particular, the student wanted to celebrate the breakthrough she experienced the week before in the program’s math class: a topic suddenly made sense, and just in time for her to help her son with his math homework for the first time. The mother and the volunteer were both teary as they reflected together that she has found tools and built new confidence for helping her kids succeed.

A Whole New World

OT is a nine year old female with Autism and sensory processing disorder who attended a Summer Camp Program with one of our funded organizations. She attended five days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Due to her Autism and sensory processing disorder, she could also display behavioral disruptions. During group activities, OT appeared to have difficulty working with others. She would withdraw from the group and lash out if others approached her space. However, as her class was walking past a table where the camp director was working with another student with flash cards, OT signed “work” to her. So we began working with her using flash cards, and they opened up a whole new world to her. She began reading words, making sentences and playing word games. As her learning improved, her disruptive behavior began to diminish. She still played independently, but was much calmer and tolerated others being closer. It was an exciting learning experience for all!

*all agency and client names have been altered to protect client privacy


Funded Partner Spotlight

United Ways across the global network are known for the impact their investments have in communities, big and small, around the world. The beauty of our impact is such that outcomes seen on the big-picture scale of communities and cities can be boiled down to impactful outcomes for individuals and families. Stories. Lives transformed. Behind every dollar invested is a story to be told. Today, we wish to share with you a few of these stories*.

The Story of Jack & Jill

Jill made a Case Management appointment with one of our funded partners for help with finding a better job and budgeting. During the course of the initial interview it was determined that Jack and Jill were being faced with eviction from their home after a series of mishaps including a refrigerator going bad, blow out on a tire and illness on Jack’s part. Jack was working 2 jobs and selling his plasma in order to ensure that his family had a roof over their head. This specific partner agency was able to partner with another agency and ensure that this family received a new refrigerator, 2 months’ rent and payment of their late fees that put them back on equal footing to keep their family of 4 from facing homelessness.

The Story of Luis

Luis is a 7 year old boy of Latino heritage who was first brought to counseling at age 6 for school refusal. The parent/guardian reported the child seemed very anxious about being separated from the parent especially at bedtime and when leaving for school in the mornings. The boy complained of nightmares, fears of going to sleep by himself in his room, and worries that something bad would happen at home while he was at school. The boy established a relationship with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker through a counseling program run by one of our funded partners. As they played and visited together over the next 8 weeks, the boy began to share narratives of disturbing life events (past family conflict) and told about how frightened he was that his parent might be harmed in some way while he was away at school or in his bedroom at night separate from the parent. He expressed the wish to be able to protect the parent. The provider worked with the boy and his parent to help the child see the parent was able to take care and make healthy decisions so the boy could go to school and play with friends without worrying about the parent. Furthermore, they established an understanding that the parent was in the next room doing laundry and paying bills while the child was falling asleep in the next room, and there was nothing to fear about falling asleep. The counselor and provider helped the child establish a sense of safety once again now that the family conflict had been resolved. The nightmares and anxiety symptoms reduced, and the child was able to return to school and achieve expected developmental milestones.

The Story of Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn started coming to a program run by one of our funded partners in November 2022. Her family had lost their housing and were living in their car. The organization connected the family to temporary housing so they would no longer need to sleep in their vehicle. Two months later her family separated, as some family was moving out of state. The organization was able to assist Kaitlyn with getting into an independent living program in Waco and they are currently supporting her through case management, resume building, job applications and interview readiness. Kaitlyn recently graduated high school in January and is remaining in Waco so she can walk across the stage with her classmates during her graduation ceremony in May.

Without our donors, these stories would not be told. And without the nonprofits that have dedicated themselves to serving our community, these stories would not be told. We—that includes YOU— are part of a collective force for good. Transforming lives, communities and society, one story at a time. These are the moments we give for.

*all agency and client names have been altered to protect client privacy


Our 2023 grant application period is officially closed, with 32 McLennan County nonprofit organizations having submitted a request for United Way funding. This year’s application process came with an exciting announcement: the launch of a 2-year funding cycle! Grants awarded for this cycle will now cover 2 years’ worth of funding and the grant application process will take place every other year.

Since the inception of our competitive grant-making model, we’ve been working towards a 2-year funding cycle as a means to ensure our process is equitable and less burdensome for nonprofits of every size, while still ensuring accountability and impact. This shift will allow our Funded Partners to plan further ahead for their programming and spend more time providing their needed services to clients across McLennan County. Continued bi-annual reports will allow us the chance to communicate the impact of these essential programs to the United Way donors that keep these services active in our community through their generous giving.

Next on the horizon for the grant process is grant application review and funding recommendations made by our groups of community volunteers: the Financial Review Council and Community Investment Councils. These councils are made up of community volunteers who review grant applications submitted to United Way by local nonprofits, and make grant funding recommendations to our Board. We seek to build councils that are diverse across a variety of categories and reflect the diversity of our community and the clients that the nonprofits serve through varying levels of both professional skills and lived experience. We hosted Orientation & Training for these volunteers this month and welcomed many new faces to the councils. We love getting the witness the diversity of thought and intentionality that goes into the funding decisions made by the councils. This aspect of our grant-making ensures that donors’ dollars going to programs vetted by the community, for the community. It keeps not only us but also our local nonprofits accountable to the community’s wishes, which we know will produce a more equitable and impactful community for all.

At this time, our volunteer CPAs and financial services professionals are actively reviewing the financial documentation submitted by nonprofit applicants. In March and April, the Community Investment Council members, divided up by impact area, will conduct their individual review and meet to further discuss and make funding recommendations to our Board. We look forward to onboarding new and returning Funded Partners early summer for the 2023-2025 funding cycle.


If you’ve been around our organization a time or two, you are probably aware that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are among some of our core values. Pursuing these values is not an overnight achievement, but rather a journey that we have committed to walking for the long haul. If you’ve ever been on a hike or long walk, you’d know that it’s so much better and fulfilling to bring friends along with you. That’s why, ever since taking our first steps toward creating a more equitable McLennan County, we’ve invited our fellow nonprofit partners to listen, learn and pursue action alongside us. 

Over the years, we’ve sought to ensure our grant making is equitable by adapting our processes to include things such as offering free, contracted grant writing assistance for nonprofit grant applicants who are lower-resourced, led by people of color and have yet to receive a United Way grant. We’ve also provided alternative submission options in our grant application that allow applicants to submit certain sections with a video response as opposed to written, in an attempt to cater to different communication styles. Our grant review and selection process has been led by community volunteers diverse in race, age, gender, lived and professional experience, since the launch of our grant making model. This ensures us that our funding decisions are being made by the community, for the community.

This month, we hosted a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training for our current Funded Partners and nonprofit grant applicants as a way to share learning and resources within our nonprofit community. Staff from United Ways of Texas came from Austin to equip attendees with foundational DEI knowledge and an organizational assessment tool for nonprofits to use to inform their internal action planning to further their commitment to DEI. If you’re interested in conducting an organizational assessment of your DEI practices, check out the assessment tool that our training covered.

It excites us to imagine how our community could transform when each one of us is taking active steps to pursue greater equity. This is something we pursue not because we have to, but because we know that in a community where there is equity, everyone thrives. Our hope is to see McLennan County become such a community.


As we enter into the holiday season and reflect on 2022, we are keenly aware of the many ways in which our community’s nonprofits have poured their heart and soul into serving McLennan County residents of all ages, races, and life circumstances, offering empathy and dignity day-in and day-out. It takes a special kind of someone to dedicate your career to ensuring others are equipped to thrive and we at United Way, thanks to the support of a generous network of givers across the county, have the privilege of supporting these individuals on their respective missions.

As 2022 comes to a close…

We wish to recognize and thank Family Abuse Center, Inspiracion, STARRY Inc., The Arc of McLennan County, and The Cove Waco for their dedication to ensuring that parents are empowered to be their child’s first and best teacher, creating a father-positive community, nurturing children and adults with developmental disabilities to discover their own superpowers, and providing youth a place to call ‘home.’

We wish to recognize and thank Ascension Providence, Baylor Scott & White, Communities in Schools, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Waco Family Medicine, STARRY, Inc., and The Arc of McLennan County for working to lower rates of diabetes and breast cancer, supporting pregnant women’s health and well-being, providing accessible mental health counseling for youth, adults and families, and empowering girls to build meaningful social connections and reuniting families.

We wish to recognize and thank Caritas of Waco, Christian Women’s Job Corps, Grassroots Community Development, and Waco Cultural Arts Fest for their commitment to ensuring McLennan County women, families, and the special needs community have opportunities to advance in their careers, receive financial education and develop job skills.

We wish to recognize and thank Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children, American Gateways, Care Net Pregnancy Center, CASA of McLennan County, Community Cancer Association, Family Abuse Center, Greater Waco Legal Services, Meals on Wheels Waco, and Mission Waco Mission World for providing legal representation and advocacy for our immigrant community, children in foster care and those who otherwise couldn’t afford it, a safe place for victims of domestic violence, needed medications and support for cancer patients, and food, shelter, and basic essentials for men, women and families facing adverse circumstances.

I encourage you to go back and read through those paragraphs again and let the sheer volume and impact of the work that our nonprofit partners have done this year sink in. That’s a lot of lives touched in so many different and needed ways. If you get the chance before you enter into your holiday season, thank a nonprofit employee for their service in 2022. A little gratitude goes a long way. Likewise, we wish to share our gratitude with each of our donors who help make this kind of collective impact possible.

Change doesn’t happen alone.


The 2023-24 Grant Cycle has begun!

It’s November, and that means we’re starting up a new Grant Year! Every early November, we begin our Grant Year with the Eligibility Process. The Eligibility Process is the first step on the journey to become a United Way Funded Partner. On November 7th, we held an Eligibility Info Session, where returning and new nonprofit organizations could learn about what United Way is and how our grant process works. The first step in the grant application process is for interested nonprofit organizations and programs to submit a required Eligibility Checklist via our online grant portal. The Checklist consists of basic eligibility questions and document uploads. The Eligibility period runs from November 7th until November 28th. Eligible programs that meet UWWMC’s eligibility criteria and align with our Impact Framework will be invited to submit a full grant application in January 2023.

If you or a nonprofit organization you know is interested in a United Way grant, check out the Eligibility Process page of our website for information about how to submit an Eligibility Checklist.

While the Eligibility Info Session itself is nothing new, this particular Eligibility Info Session was special. We revealed our new Impact Framework (dubbed “Impact Framework 2.0”), and we’re proud to share that with the community!

United Way of Waco-McLennan County’s Impact Framework is a set of strategic priorities that guide our grant-making. Impact Framework 2.0 has been introduced in an effort to align our grant-making with community-identified priorities in the Child Well-being Movement’s Community Action Plan.

This updated framework combines our original strategic goal areas with the desires of the community as espoused in our Community Action Plan. While we still focus on ensuring the Health, Education and Financial Stability of all of McLennan County’s residents, our new Impact Framework is more focused. Our four “Pillars” of Education, Health, Financial Stability, and Safety Net Services have now been condensed into three new Pillars: Children, Families, and Communities to reflect a new lens on child well-being.

The Children Pillar focuses on ensuring access to high-quality childcare and educational opportunities. Families focuses on meeting the basic needs of McLennan County’s children and families. Finally, Communities focuses on increasing access to community resources. Now, before you worry too much, many of our original Impact Framework’s goals and objectives still exist, they have just been restructured throughout the Framework. In addition, new strategies from our Community Action Plan were added to the framework to ensure McLennan County residents’ identified needs are being met. One of the new strategies under Communities, for instance, is focused on providing local resources (staff, programs, information) in Spanish throughout community services. In Families, we see a desire to provide supportive classes and groups for caregivers of children. There are more instances of these newly added resident priorities throughout Impact Framework 2.0.

Let it be known, though, that we’re continuing to fund programs that support children and their families, not just children, because we know that in order to ensure McLennan County is a strong community, we must take a whole-child, family-focused and cross-sector approach.

With Impact Framework 2.0, our goal was to focus resources on issues where community members feel they are most needed. In September, we called together a Community Grant Taskforce from members throughout the community, to share their thoughts and suggestions for revision of Impact Framework 2.0. Community voice remains at the heart of this process.

That’s all for this entry; however, things are ramping up here for our Grants and Impact Team! We are excited to welcome new nonprofits as United Way Funded Partners in the coming year! Stay tuned for our next article!


One of the requirements for those who receive grants from United Way of Waco-McLennan County (UWWMC) are Funded Partner Site Visits. Site visits are an excellent opportunity for our United Way volunteers (including Board, committee, and CIC members/FRC), staff and interns to see “where the money is going.”

From October 17th-21st, United Way staff and volunteers participated in eleven different site visits, with eleven funded partners:

  • American Gateways
  • Ascension Providence
  • Christian Women’s Job Corp Waco
  • Communities in Schools in the Heart of Texas
  • Family Abuse Center
  • Girl Scouts of Central Texas
  • Inspiración
  • Mission Waco
  • STARRY, Inc.
  • The Arc of McLennan County
  • The Cove – Heart of Texas, Inc.

These Funded Partners are doing tremendous work in the community. Many even serve those outside the McLennan County area – bringing their much needed services to more rural areas. We’re thankful for them and all the work they have done.

Eligibility Info Session

It’s fall, and that means we’re gearing back up for our Eligibility Info Session! Eligibility is the first step in the grant application process for interested organizations and programs. They must submit a required Eligibility Checklist online. Eligible programs that meet UWWMC’s eligibility criteria and align with our Impact Framework will be invited to submit a full grant application.

So, when is the Eligibility Info Session? It will be held on Monday, November 7th from 2 – 3 PM CST. It will be held via Zoom, and the link to register is available here. If you are a non-profit or know of a non-profit and are interested in our grant process, please feel free to register! We hope to see you all soon!


One of the requirements for those who receive grants from United Way of Waco-McLennan County (UWWMC) are Funded Partner Site Visits. Site visits are an excellent opportunity for our United Way volunteers (including Board, committee, and CIC members/FRC), staff and interns to see “where the money is going.” Reading an organization’s application and reports is one thing, but to be on-site, and seeing that good work being put into action is another thing. During the week of August 15th, that opportunity came.

From August 15th-19th, United Way staff and volunteers participated in thirteen different site visits, with eleven funded partners:

  • Advocacy Center
  • Baylor Scott & White
  • CASA of McLennan County
  • Care Net Pregnancy Center
  • Caritas of Waco
  • Community Cancer Association
  • Grassroots Community Development
  • Greater Waco Legal Services
  • Meals on Wheels Waco
  • Waco Cultural Arts Fest
  • Waco Family Medicine

The site visits may be a requirement, but they are a reminder to our staff and volunteers that while the Funded Partners are thankful for receiving funds, it must never be forgotten that these non-profits are the “foot soldiers” of action. These are the ones who work tirelessly to ensure that our most vulnerable residents are given the tools they need to achieve their full potential. These Funded Partners are doing tremendous work in the community. Many even serve those outside the McLennan County area – bringing their much needed services to more rural areas.

And so this first round of site visits comes to an end. But you’ll note that it was only round one of two of our Funded Partner site visits! In October, we’ll be having site visits with the rest of our Funded Partners. Stay tuned!

“As a United Way CIC member, I’ve had the opportunity to champion the way forward at increasing the equity in grant-making. Collectively, we strive to move the dial in a direction whereby funded programs are representative of the communities they serve.”

Paula Solano, 2021 Community Investment Council Member

1227 N. Valley Mills Drive,
Suite 239,
Waco, TX 76710