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United Way campaign garners $692,941


January 17, 2007

The pie throwing is over, the pizza has all been sold, and the auction items have been delivered.

And the verdict is in: ASU faculty, staff, retirees and ASU Foundation colleagues contributed $692,941 to the 2006 campaign, a whopping 16 percent more than last year's total.

The University Technology Office sold pies to be thrown at willing victims, the ASU Foundation and Mary Lou Fulton College of Education sold pizza, and the Polytechnic campus played host to the auction, among numerous other fundraisers.

In addition, 2,700 members of the ASU family contributed through payroll deduction, cash, checks and credit cards, while more than 200 ASU employee volunteers carried out this campaign as campaign managers or unit representatives.

“Members of the ASU family – faculty, staff, retirees and colleagues from the ASU Foundation – understand the critical challenges faced by our community,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “We are responding to those challenges in many ways, and one of the most important is through funding the important work of the Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW) and Mesa United Way. This year's unprecedented level of support will help tens of thousands of our neighbors and their families meet critical needs for success and prosperity.”

Now it's time for United Way volunteers such as Julie Alvarado, director of Strategic Initiatives for the School of Extended Education, to get down to serious business.

Alvarado serves on the Targeted Care Panel, one of seven United Way panels that decide which agencies will receive funding, and how much they will get.

With possibly more than $50 million to “spend” – United Way's goal for the year is to raise $50.5 million – the 120 or so volunteer panel members have a huge responsibility.

The Targeted Care Panel, on which Alvarado has participated for more than six years, reviews applications from non-VSUW-partner agencies.

These often are small agencies that have found an unusual niche, Alvarado says, adding: “They are the most unique, creative and entrepreneurial organizations I have ever seen.”

Once all the proposals are in, panel members carefully review them and discuss them in meetings that can last all day. Finally, the panel meets to decide which proposals will be funded and how much they will receive.

Alvarado's panel, which includes nine or 10 people of different ages and diverse backgrounds, usually reviews 40 to 60 proposals each year, and occasionally turns an agency down.

“Other panels don't have to be quite as detailed about who the agencies are,” Alvarado says. “They are already under the United Way umbrella.”

To receive funding from United Way, agencies must follow generally accepted accounting principles and undergo audits by United Way volunteer committees. To become partner agencies, they must demonstrate that their programs align to United Way's focus on learning, empowering and caring, and that they can deliver results in these areas.

The proposals that are reviewed by the Targeted Care Panel often are small agencies or organizations that are just beginning to do their work. Some have been run by individuals and have grown too big for one person to administrate.

Often, Alvarado says, the panel members help the agencies through their growing pains.

“We've ended up in mentor relationships, like a small board of directors,” she says.

One such agency was ASU baseball coach Pat Murphy's Guadalupe Project, which provides baseball instruction and life-skills lessons to underprivileged youth in Guadalupe. Through mentoring by United Way volunteers, the Guadalupe Project became a United Way partner agency.

Shoe Box Ministries, which started out in 1988 with the goal of meeting the personal hygiene needs of the homeless and working poor in the greater Phoenix area, is another success story, Alvarado says. After volunteers helped Shoe Box put correct business practices in place, it also became a United Way partner agency.

Alvarado has served on “hundreds” of other volunteer boards, but she has returned to United Way for more than 12 years because, as she says, “it's one of the more uplifting opportunities.”

“I've learned so much about what volunteers can do, about the power of collective thinking,” Alvarado says.