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Frequently Asked Questions for JHM Coordinators/Ambassadors

Q: What does United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM) do?

A: United Way of Central Maryland has two primary goals:

  1. Address basic human needs in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.
  2. Be an efficient and effective fundraiser.

United Way’s work uses a collective impact model to help people in central Maryland facing poverty stabilize their lives and become self-sufficient. Large-scale social change requires coordination across many sectors. United Way mobilizes human service experts, corporate partners and government and community leaders to identify outcomes that lead to real change, multiplying their impact. Then, they pull together the resources it takes to ensure change, such as funding and raising financial support for highly effective human service programs, rallying volunteers and advocating. United Way of Central Maryland believes that, together, we can accomplish more than any single person, group or organization.

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Q: What does it mean to address basic needs?

A: United Way of Central Maryland supports a variety of services, initiatives and volunteer efforts along a “basic needs continuum” to help people living at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($23,550 for a family of four). UWCM provides:

  1. Sustenance. Help for people to get out of crisis by funding programs for shelter, food, access to health care and other critical needs.
  2. Stabilization. Help for people to stay out of crisis by funding things such as child care vouchers, eviction prevention and other supportive services.
  3. Self-sufficiency. Help for people to achieve a higher quality of life by supporting initiatives such as permanent housing, asset building and financial literacy.

Their commitment is to:

  1. Be data-driven in their work and funding
  2. Understand regional health and human needs  
  3. Make funding decisions locally

Through collected data and partner input, United Way has found that a large number of central Maryland residents have unmet basic needs, such as access to healthy food, housing and health care.

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Q: How does UWCM help people access resources to meet their basic needs and to stabilize their situations?

A: Through 2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland, people seeking assistance are connected to the most pertinent health and human service providers, confidentially and free of charge 24/7. People in need no longer have to navigate a complicated web of resources on their own; a trained, caring call specialist from 2-1-1 will listen to their individual issues and connect them with the appropriate help.

In the 2013 fiscal year, 2-1-1 MD at UWCM answered more than 78,000 calls from people seeking help. The top five call requests to 2-1-1 MD at UWCM are for legal and tax assistance, housing, utilities, individual and family supports, and food.

They also help low-income individuals and families gain financial stability by informing them about free tax preparation services, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program, which can go a long way in helping to lift people out of poverty. EITC can amount to $6,000 cash-in-hand for an eligible family of four.

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Q: What are UWCM's special programs and initiatives?

A: In addition to providing grant funding to more than 100 nonprofits in central Maryland, United Way of Central Maryland manages its own unique initiatives aimed at bringing good health, financial stability and self-sufficiency to central Marylanders facing poverty.

  • Access to Healthy Food Initiative
    Food insecurity is not having consistent access to nutritious foods, a problem rooted in poverty and exacerbated by a lack of grocery stores in neighborhoods, a lack of transportation and increases in food costs. Launched in 2011, this multiyear initiative is making healthy food more easily accessible for food-insecure central Marylanders by collaborations to grow more locally, improve distribution and increase access and affordability. In partnership with the American Heart Association’s Community Kitchen, UWCM is also educating people in need about how to plan and prepare healthy meals.
  • Family Stability
    To address the startling fact that families are the fastest-growing homeless group, UWCM has developed an innovative, multifaceted program aimed at preventing family homelessness, housing homeless families and building financial security for families in crisis. Through intensive case management and master-leased housing units (diverting families from crowded shelters), parents can stabilize their financial situations while children are able to remain in their schools.
  • 2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland
    2-1-1 is a 24/7 information and referral service that connects people with the health and human resources they need. UWCM’s 2-1-1 call center (one of four in Maryland) serves as a barometer of need for issues in our community, giving UWCM a unique vantage point for identifying, assessing, tracking and meeting people’s basic needs locally. 2-1-1 MD at UWCM is often used as the point of connection for critical services, demonstrated through partnerships with HealthCare Access Maryland, Baltimore CASH Campaign and Baltimore City’s Super Summer Program, as well as UWCM’s own Harvest of Plenty holiday meal program.
  • READ LEARN SUCCEED
    Early-grade reading is critical to a child’s success in life. Poor readers in the third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school, which means they are cut off from 90 percent of American jobs. Their odds of becoming a single parent, homeless or a criminal greatly increase. As part of a national effort to decrease the high school dropout rate, UWCM has created a program that recruits volunteers to read to local children so that they can learn to read, read to learn and succeed in school and beyond.

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Q: Who guides UWCM's health and human service work?

A: UWCM has a Community Partnership Board in each central Maryland jurisdiction (Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties). These Partnership Boards comprise community leaders who live and/or work in the community they serve, offering on-the-ground knowledge. Together, they make funding decisions for each jurisdiction and guide the work that will be done there. UWCM staff with long-standing experience and expertise work closely with these expert volunteers.

Q: Does United Way of Central Maryland only provide funds?

A: No. UWCM’s work involves so much more than money. The organization:

  • Collaborates with nonprofit agencies across central Maryland to truly understand the needs of central Maryland (individuals, families, organizations, nonprofits, agencies, governments, etc).and how to best approach systematic solutions.
  • Connects the dots between the public sector, private sector, nonprofits and individuals to create collective impact.
  • Has formed partnerships with companies such as Procter & Gamble that have resulted in programs like Dream & Flourish, designed to mentor and inspire middle school girls in Baltimore County.
  • Offers donors opportunities to do more than give. One example, their Days of Action, encourages volunteers to get hands-on through community service projects.
  • Has linked more than 78,000 callers last year (Fiscal Year 2013) to specialized resources, including housing, food, health care, utility assistance and more.
  • 2-1-1 MD at UWCM operates as the state’s earned income tax credit (EITC) hotline. Last year, United Way responded to nearly 9,000 calls regarding tax preparation assistance. Along with the Maryland CASH Campaign, their efforts contributed to low- to moderate-income Marylanders recouping an estimated $18.5 million from federal and state tax refunds, and more than $6 million in earned income tax credits.
  • Makes data from their Community Issues Management system publicly available for community planning and decision-making.
  • Administers Maryland’s Homeless Management Information System. Through their work, they are spearheading an effort to integrate and coordinate homelessness data from communities throughout the state so that they can make better decisions to benefit individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

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Q: How do you know UWCM's work is making a difference?

A: Through reports from funded agencies, research and data analysis, as well as partnering with nonprofit colleagues, UWCM is committed to making sure they measure the performance of their funded partners. All programs that UWCM funds are held accountable for efficient spending and measurable outcomes. On an annual basis, UWCM reports results from all of the programs they fund through an impact statement.

In addition, the 2-1-1 MD at UWCM information and referral line is an excellent barometer of need. It helps UWCM refocus their efforts based on growing needs and understand where differences need to be made.

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Q: How does United Way of Central Maryland help other nonprofits that provide basic needs and other supportive services?

A: UWCM acts as a critical source of funding, volunteers and other support for more than 100 nonprofits working on the front line across the region. UWCM saves these organizations substantial administrative, fundraising, customer service and marketing expenses. Through their involvement, expertise and leadership, UWCM helps other nonprofits build their capacity and efficacy at a time when every philanthropic dollar needs to count.

Q: Is it true that a person can choose to give to their favorite charity through UWCM?

A: Yes. UWCM’s designation policy encourages philanthropy for the causes people care about. They accept designations for a gift as small as $50 to any health and human service agency in the USA. Most collected designations are paid to charities monthly.

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Q: How many agencies receive UWCM distributions of money?

A: UWCM distributes funds to more than 1,700 nonprofit health and human service agencies each year through designations, and approximately 120 receive grants. UWCM provides health and human service organizations with multiple opportunities throughout the year to compete for grant funding.

Q: What is UWCM's fee to designate?

A: UWCM’s designation fee is a flat rate of 5 percent, subject to a minimum of $5 and a cap of $500. There is no fee to designate to UWCM, jurisdictions or the 2-1-1 Maryland at UWCM information and referral service.

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Q: Why should I give to United Way of Central Maryland when I can give directly to charities?

A: No one agency or organization can influence community change alone. People in need often require the support of multiple services—many of which are often lesser-known, but just as important as services with high visibility. By contributing to UWCM, you help ensure the network of services that no one agency or program could provide.

Their trusted experts and knowledgeable staff work with partners across the region and know how your funds can do the most good for the most people. These experts and staff help UWCM understand what the needs are and what resources are already being applied to them, so that they can help close the gap between the services that people need and the services that they are able to obtain. They make nonprofits more efficient by assuming fundraising, marketing and customer service expenses for them. They offer the highest level of accountability—for both UWCM and their partners.

As a result, a direct contribution to UWCM will leverage your dollars to have the most impact. Contributing directly to UWCM, as opposed to designating to an individual charity, truly increases your power to create change.

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Q: What type of financial oversight does UWCM have?

A: UWCM’s board of directors has ultimate responsibility for its financial condition. By way of its finance committee, the board retains an independent auditor who then reports the findings to the board. Financial statements are audited annually by Ellin & Tucker, Chartered. UWCM consistently receives an unqualified audit, which means a “clean audit.”

Q: Does anyone monitor or recognize United Way of Central Maryland's work?

A: UWCM has earned the Standards for Excellence credential from the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations since 2000, recognizing the highest standards of governance, ethics and accountability. UWCM is one of about 75 nonprofits across the state and just 230 across the country to have earned this seal.

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Q: Is my donation to UWCM tax deductible?

A: Yes. United Way of Central Maryland is a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization (contributions to United Way of Central Maryland, Inc., are tax deductible within the limits of current federal and Maryland state law. UWCM provides no goods or services in exchange for your contributions).

To be eligible for a deduction for the 2013 tax year, you must donate by 9 p.m. on December 31, 2013.

You will receive a tax receipt for direct contributions of $250 or more made before this deadline. UWCM will send a receipt before January 31 of the following year. To ensure your receipt is delivered, please provide us with your full home address.

If your contribution is being made by payroll deduction, you should keep a copy of your pledge card and/or email acknowledgment which, along with your pay stubs or other documents furnished by your employer, show the amount withheld for your contribution and will provide the necessary support for your contribution for federal income tax purposes.

A copy of the most current financial statement is available upon request by contacting United Way of Central Maryland at P.O. Box 1576, Baltimore, MD 21203-1576, 410-547-8000. Documents and information submitted to the state of Maryland under the Maryland Charitable Solicitations Act are available from the Office of the Secretary of State for the cost of copying and postage.

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Q: What is the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund?

A: The Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund is a separate fund established in 2007 to support nonprofit organizations that serve both the communities in close proximity to Johns Hopkins campuses and those that are associated with Johns Hopkins through employee and/or institutional involvement. A committee of Johns Hopkins employees, chaired by Frank Bossle, executive director of JHI Internal Audits, oversees the allocation of the fund. The fund was set up to assist local nonprofit organizations to build stronger neighborhoods by addressing needs in the areas of community revitalization, education, employment, health and public safety.

A sampling of projects and programs made possible with grants from the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund include: homeless shelter funding assistance, addiction treatment for individuals experiencing homelessness, occupational training for low-income adults to obtain skills in the health care industry, and nutritious meals to individuals in need.

For a complete listing of funded projects, visit the Neighborhood Fund online.

If you have an additional question that was not outlined in the above FAQ, please contact Carol Woodward at cwoodwa@jhmi.edu or 443-997-3761.

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