Program areas at United Way of the Bluegrass
Supporting community programs: uwbg helps create opportunities for a better life for all. We make strategic investments in programs serving low to moderate-income and underserved central kentuckians in the areas of education, income, health and basic needs. We also serve as an incubator for new programs, and a convener of partnerships of nonprofits seeking to improve lives by working together. Uwbg serves ten central Kentucky regional communities which includes: anderson, bourbon, clark, fayette, franklin, jessamine, madison, montgomery, scott and woodford counties. Uwbg is a convener, collaborator and catalyst for change for long-term solutions for central Kentucky communities. We invest donor dollars into programmatic solutions that are making a difference and supporting low to moderate-income and underserved families and children. We have developed systems to evaluate the quality and success of the programs and partners that our investors help fund, so that they can be assured that their dollars will have maximum impact on their community. We believe in our programs and partners: 25,431 children served by uwbg led or funded programs. 61,932 adults served by uwbg led or funded programs focusing on basic needs, critical assistance, individual and family financial stability initiatives, financial education programs, and general family assistance. 1100+ community members were provided direct service via uwbg's waypoint center initiative.
Volunteer income tax assistance (vita) program is a partnership of three regional coalitions across central and eastern Kentucky that is led by United Way of the Bluegrass (uwbg). Vita leverges a partnership with the irs to provide free tax preparation to low and moderate-income families, raise awareness about the earned income tax credit (eitc) and help families build assets across the commonwealth. the central Kentucky economic empowerment program (ckeep) is the largest of the three coalitions which primarily operates in the greater lexington area of central Kentucky and is under direct management of the uwbg. the eastern Kentucky asset building coalition(ekabc) is the second largest coalition and operates throughout the rural areas of eastern Kentucky. the peoples self help housing (pshh) coaltion is located in northern Kentucky and primarily serves the lewis county community. the United Way of the Bluegrass serves as the vita grant recipient and fiscal agent for vita and its three regional coalitions. Thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteer tax preparers with our vita program, families are able to save their much-needed money while strengthening our overall economy. Each year, millions of dollars are lost by hard-working families in the Bluegrass who do not file for their earned income tax credit (eitc) during tax time. the irs estimates that approximately 20 to 25 percent of those eligible for the credit do not claim it because they don't know they are eligible for it, they don't know how to claim it, or they don't know where to go for assistance. Our goal is to make households eligible aware of the credit and help them claim it without having to pay for tax preparation and filing services. the free tax preparation provided by vita and its volunteer tax preparers offers immediate savings to thousands of kentuckians each year. Our 24 vita sites across the commonwealth of Kentucky were able to file 4,600 returns in 2022. Our vita volunteers dedicated over 7,000 hours of return preparation across 73 counties that resulted in 4500 returns being completed. the value of those returns were more than $7 million in tax refunds with $2.2 million of that being in the form of the earned income tax credit.
United way-airs 211: United Way of the Bluegrass 211 connects people with resources that are available in their community via phone, chat, text messaging, mobile apps and the 211 websites. 211 helps thousands of people in 92 Kentucky counties each year. In addition to the work 211 has historically done in central Kentucky, the 211 contact center has contracts that have expanded the reach of the uwbg 211-program. In partnership with the state's cabinet for health and family services, uwbg 2-1-1 has gone live with the remainder of counties in ky (92 out of 120) that didn't previously have 2-1-1 service. 2-1-1 is now available to all kentuckians and efforts are ongoing in partnership with other local 2-1-1 providers and uwky to promote the service across the entire commonwealth. Our United Way 2-1-1 clients were linked to 22,315 community resources. 38.6 percent of our clients were referred to housing resources, 24.3 percent of our clients were referred for help with utilities, 8.8 percent of our clients were linked to their local food resources, 5 percent for clothing, and 4 percent each for transportation and healthcare (including covid 19 resources). Thanks to the expansion of uwbg's 211 efforts across the commonwealth, nearly 21,000 people received help through our contact center.
the mission of uwbg's waypoint center initiative is to strengthen low to moderate income neighborhoods by financially empowering families, ensuring students have what they need to succeed in school, ensuring basic needs are met and that families have what they need to grow and thrive. This is especially critical during times of crisis. Recent research has confirmed that the communities hit the hardest as a result of covid-19 are underserved, predominantly minority and low to moderate-income neighborhoods. the waypoint centers helps to promote a greater level of community resiliency, thereby preventing future crises and disasters from generating disproportately negative, inequitable outcomes for these vulnerable residents. This is made possible due to the ecosystem of partners and programs within each center, specifically tailored to meet each neighborhood's most pressing needs. Uwbg currently operates three waypoint centers, two in lexington (west end black & williams center and east end -charles young center) and one in paris (paris-bourbon county ymca.) These are the most vunlerable neighborhoods in each city. Since opening the doors in july of 2021 the centers have provided direct services to more than 1100 clients with more than 6,000 instances of service. A suite of programs and services are provided covering but limited to: housing assistance, utilites assistance, job/workforce training, free tax prepaeration (including eitc and child tax credit), financial education, access to free or low-cost banking products, assistance with substance abuse, hiv/hepatitus testing, pre-k/early learner programming, and providing for basic need e.g., food, furniture, clothing. Additional programming has focused on healthy living/improved health outcomes for seniors as well as smoking/vaping cessation for elementary, middle, and high scool students.