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United Way Announces Agency Allocation Total

The United Way of McLean County located in the McBarnes building in downtown Bloominton (pictured) continues to try to reinvent itself as philanthropic patterns change.

The head of the United Way of McLean County said distributions to social service programs this year will be down about down about $260,000. This is also the end of a three-year funding cycle under which agencies were supposed to receive a set amount, said United Way CEO David Taylor.

Increasingly businesses are moving away from coordinated campaigns, and that has eroded United Way giving over several years. Taylor said the United Way has recently offered percentages of the first year's promises based on available dollars.

"There will probably be some changes made moving forward to ensure that we are giving out what is in hand and not having to rely on projections or pledges. And so based on what we know and what we feel confident in, $808,000 is what we are comfortable releasing," said Taylor.

That amount comes on collections of just over $1.1 million in funds, said Taylor.

The organization has also moved from an annual campaign targeting late in the year and holiday giving, to year-round fundraising on multiple platforms.

The tally included $25,000 that goes to Next Step, a joint venture among the University of Illinois Law School, Heartland Community College, and Mid Central Community Action.

"That's something that demonstrates a collaboration among different organizations to help people break through the cycle of poverty. It's really about changing conditions that lead to some of these symptoms rather than treating the symptoms themselves," said Taylor.

Once someone receives help on, for example, emergency payment of a utility bill to prevent a shutoff, or help finding a new residence, or help preventing eviction, they are offered the Next Step education program, said Taylor, which is the Financial Opportunity Center.

"These are financial coaching sessions and counseling sessions to help them learn how to budget their money, how to avoid situations like that, how to set aside money for unexpected events in their lives and how to create that cushion so they are not having to rely on emergency help from organizations that have emergency funds. It's really then trying to teach and educate and elevate their understanding of what has led them to be in that situation," said Taylor.

The allocation also includes $41,000 for the local 211 crisis hotline through Providing Access To Help (PATH).

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.