The United Way of Central Arkansas held an agency breakfast on Thursday to celebrate the completion of its allocations process.

Over a two-month period, a United Way committee painstakingly decided how to distribute its funds to its partner agencies. Executive Director Maret Cahill explained.

"We open a grant process. They have to tell us what program they want us to fund, because we don’t fund agencies, we fund programs within agencies. We send volunteers on site visits, and we educate them on what we’re looking for. They ask pointed questions, see where the action takes place and watch the program in action. They bring that back to us with scores."

After that, she said, the board members on the allocations committee looks at the proposals, the scores, and the paperwork from the agencies and holds interviews with each of the agencies. Then they hammer out all the details.

"This year the scores were good. They kind of rewarded the A-plus agencies," Cahill said. "It was really exciting to see how invested they were."

Beth Goodrich, executive director of the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas, said, "The process seemed a little easier this year. The application process was online. It seems like we’re going a good direction."

The Women’s Shelter received funding for its transportation program and its emergency shelter program.

Kittie Aaron, executive director of the Conway Interfaith Clinic, said, "We appreciate any support the United Way gives us. Being a nonprofit, we need all the help we can get."

She said Affordable Health Care has left charitable clinics wondering what to do next.

"It’s a very challenging time for charitable clinics. There are still people falling through the cracks. Three charitable clinics in the state have closed because they just assumed everyone had insurance."

Aaron added the Conway Interfaith Clinic has no plans to close for the time being. The clinic received funding for its medical services program.

Judi Lively, executive director of Bethlehem House, Faulkner County’s homeless shelter, said, "We’re a proud partner of United Way. I’ve really seen United Way step forward as an agency themselves through the disaster, and I’m excited to continue to work with them. We were pleased with our funding. I thought (the process) went very smoothly."

Bethlehem house received funding for two programs, transitional housing and community outreach.

Wes Craiglow is a first-year board member, and he also served on the allocations committee.

"It’s a very organized, thoughtful process — going through applications, site visits and interviews," he said. "We discuss the merits of each application. There are criteria that are data-driven, while others are more subjective. The board is very committed to making sure applicants meet our greater intent. I think the board did an exceptional job."

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