Annual Report - front cover - web2

Our Mission:

Unite the caring power of communities to invest in effective solutions that improve people’s lives.

Our Credo:

We fight for the education, financial stability, and health of every person in our community.

Writing this letter is more than a perfunctory duty this year.

Between the dual disasters we faced during the pandemic and derecho, the numerous ways United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) supported Eastern Iowans can take your breath away. The last year encouraged us to pivot, continue our efforts and support individuals in new ways.

If there was a year in which UWECI had to respond, recover, reimagine, and rebuild, this past year was it. We were forced to immediately address what we were facing, particularly on August 10, 2020. Our team responded with urgency after the storm hit. The Emergency Volunteer Center activated within 24 hours of the storm hitting and was fielding calls and requests for volunteers and help within 48 hours.

Your support helped us play a significant role in the recovery process following last year’s derecho. We poured the vast majority of the nearly $2 million from our Disaster Recover Fund into our community, allowing area nonprofits to provide services to those struggling to get back on their feet. So often when giving a gift to this fund, we heard the phrase, “get it to the people who need it” in some fashion.

Many inequities were brought to light and amplified as a result of last year’s challenges, and it is our duty to be a catalyst for change around diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. It took reimagining what that could look like through several collaborations, from creating a rent and utility assistance system to creating efforts that will steer the course for addressing disparities. Through uniting the caring power of communities in our service area, you are helping us rebuild and fulfill wishes to create a more equitable and sustainable Eastern Iowa.

In the following pages you’ll see so many other ways our organization has stretched this past year, showing our community the unique value we bring to the table. You help us support our community not just during disaster, but for all the challenges our community faces year-round. We are indebted to your commitment to helping our neighbors in East Central Iowa, no matter what the reason may be. Thank you for your belief in the work we do.

President & CEO

Board Chair

Table of Contents

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RESPOND - header - web

For many in Eastern Iowa, August 10, 2020 started out as any other Monday.

Everything changed that afternoon when whistling straight-line winds, booming thunder, and torrential downpours completely uprooted cities and
small towns across the state.

In the days that followed, it was difficult for many to imagine a path forward. But United Way was there to help. It is our duty to respond to our
community’s most pressing needs, no matter when it’s needed.

A BEACON OF LIGHT

Within 24 hours, Linn County Emergency Management (EMA) activated the Emergency Volunteer Center (EVC). This center, which is spearheaded by UWECI as part of the LAP-AID collaboration, was the immediate response to initial needs and debris cleanup in the community.

• 1,350 LAP-AID volunteers engaged in volunteer opportunities*
• 12,947 volunteer hours were logged by 2,589 volunteers*
• 56% of volunteers helped in more than one volunteer category (food distribution, debris clean up, etc)
*from August 13-30, 2020

Along with convening community partners, UWECI established the Disaster Recovery Fund. This fund, which raised nearly $2 million since March 2020, supported the work of local nonprofits already working to support individuals and families after the storm.

SUPPORTING FARMERS, ONE MEAL AT A TIME

Farmers are a vital part of the agriculture system in our country, especially in Eastern Iowa. Many farmers suffered the loss of buildings, crops, livestock, and their own homes in 2020. After the derecho, UWECI designated $25,000 of a $75,000 Disaster Fund contribution from Cargill to ISU Extension and Outreach to support farmers. This led to the creation of Farmer Appreciation Fridays, which provided lunch and post-storm support to farmers in the area. Over 450 individuals have been served at seven locations in Linn and Benton Counties.

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With no power, no phone service and no water after the derecho, fears set in, and the questions began.

What just happened? Where can I get food? How can I make sure my family is okay? Where can I go for shelter?

UWECI partnered with numerous volunteers and donors to lead the long-term recovery process from the pandemic and derecho. As individuals get
back on their feet and the work continues, we will continue supporting those in need.

TURNING HOUSES INTO HOMES AGAIN

Immediately after the derecho, we identified housing as one of the most pressing needs in our community. UWECI helped launch Project ReConnect alongside the Alliant Energy Foundation, HACAP, and the Local Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LLMCC). This collaboration helped homeowners receive assistance reconnecting their electrical systems to their houses at no cost.

As needs through Project ReConnect were resolved, other housing issues surfaced, and the Providing Assistance to Community Homeowners (PATCH) program was created. This program, which includes numerous community-based organizations, helps low-income families repair their homes from derecho-related damages.

Fixing Roof - AR Web

GIVING GENEROUSLY

Your dedication to United Way allows us to step up and support our community in any way we can. Many individuals faced struggles last year, but because of you, individuals like Glenda found the services she needed.

Last May, Glenda was laid off from work due to the pandemic and fell behind on bills. In August, she came to Iowa Legal Aid, a UWECI funded partner, with a pending unemployment application and over $3,700 in unpaid bills. Iowa Legal Aid not only helped Glenda negotiate a more affordable payment plan for one of her bills but provided her with advice and support regarding evictions and what to do if her landlord started an eviction action against her.

Supporting United Way ensures that individuals, like Glenda, receive the help they need.

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Everyone—in some way, shape or form—has reimagined their lives within the last year.

The way we help our community has also changed. From helping individuals file taxes to evaluating our community’s needs, you’ve helped us serve those in need in new ways. These new ways will shape the way we support our community in the future—and how your contributions will connect, invest, and impact Eastern Iowans.

REIMAGINING AN EQUITABLE EASTERN IOWA

2020 served as a year to reflect and restart the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion for all individuals in our area. UWECI emphatically opposes racism, xenophobia, and all types of oppression. It is our goal to improve health, education, and financial stability for each individual in our service area because every single person deserves access to these three pillars. An outward and intentional commitment to inclusion for all helps us address our communities’ most pressing needs effectively and authentically.

Over the last year, we have intentionally developed partnerships and strategies to lay the groundwork and steer the course for addressing disparities. One of the ways we’re striving toward a more equitable community includes collaborating with the Cedar Rapids NAACP to provide four scholarships to Board Orientation and Leadership Development (BOLD) applicants from diverse communities, such as BIPOC, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, and others. We understand diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences must be present to best address inequities in our systems, and our partnership with NAACP helps make this a reality.

It is our duty to not only work to close gaps like these in our community, but to participate in dialogue and discussion around diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Many of you joined Equity Conversations: Creating a Community of Belonging, that we cohosted with the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission. This virtual conversation series built awareness within the areas of education, financial stability, and health. More than 330 individuals registered to participate in these conversations and committed to further learning or taking action around equity and social change.

IMPROVING AND SIMPLIFYING SYSTEMS

In a challenging year, receiving tax refunds was key for many people to pay bills and take care of their families. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) continued to serve low-to-middle income families with filing tax returns. With modified precautions for tax preparation in place, volunteers filed 1,340 tax returns, which saved $2.4 million in refunds.

Your support allowed us to connect with our community further when we collaborated and developed a rent and utility assistance coordination system. This system now has one phone number people can call if they need financial assistance. Because of you, families only have to tell their story once, versus up to potentially a dozen times. You impacted our nonprofit community, as this collaboration not only allows resources to be used as efficiently as possible but creates less stress for those in need of help. Because of your continued contributions to United Way, you allow us to keep serving the most vulnerable individuals in our community and be a voice for those who do not have one.

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After last year, it’s easy to believe we’re “back to normal”.

Power lines are back up, houses are being repaired, and children are going back to in-person learning. However,
many Eastern Iowans still need our help. And as long as they need our help, we’ll work together to rebuild our communities into stronger, sustainable, and more equitable places.
Through listening to our community and our Community Impact Assessment, we’ve identified what our most pressing needs are: housing, childcare, and crisis services. With your help, we’re not getting back to the way things were, we’re getting better.

DEDICATED DONORS:TIME, TALENT, AND TREASURE

Whether it’s through time or talent, you— our network of dedicated donors and volunteers— strengthen UWECI’s community connections. Each of these individuals help our community in times of need, and serve as champions who will pave the way for future donors, advocates, and volunteers. It is so important to have individuals who understand our mission and work in multiple ways.

As the first Latina to serve on our Board of Directors, Diana Rodriguez is a phenomenal leader in Eastern Iowa and someone who understands the importance of services for those in need. She was heavily involved in all aspects of Hibu’s community engagement as a company, as she served as the chair for their company campaign and other volunteer efforts. Diana is a United Way champion, as she is committed to supporting our mission and is a great example for what it means to be a well-rounded, engaged young professional—and someone who can help rebuild our community to be more sustainable and equitable.

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A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HEALTH

Because of intentionality this year and in the past, our work to protect every person’s access to health services has reached all groups of people. Since the start of the pandemic, 2-1-1, our state’s information and referral system, has received over 7,500 calls regarding the pandemic, healthcare, and mental health inquiries.

Over the last year, Women United supporters and volunteers dove deep into supporting their funded partners throughout the pandemic. This included featuring a panel of health speakers during their luncheon to discuss health during the pandemic and after the derecho. From making healthcare more accessible through telehealth appointments to providing mental health services and referrals, the group embraced focusing on all aspects of well-being for women. For some, this means having access to healthcare and prescriptions. For others, this means having a place to raise a family or someone to talk to during times of need.

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GLOSSARY - header - web

Board Orientation and Leadership Development (BOLD): A UWECI program that provides emerging leaders with skills and training needed for volunteering on a non-profit board or committee.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): In the broadest sense, diversity is the quality of being different or unique at the individual or group level. Diversity is also defined as valuing individuals without regard to race, religion, color, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, physical challenge, or age.

Funded partner: A nonprofit organization that receives funding from UWECI to help achieve community goals. United Way funding goes to specific programs at nonprofits, rather than the nonprofit itself.

Linn Area Partners Active in Disaster (LAP-AID): A group of organizations that work to minimize the impact of emergencies and disasters, expedite disaster response, and provide resources for long-term recovery.

Providing Assistance to Community Homeowners (PATCH): A collaborative program created after the derecho that helps low-income families repair their homes from derecho-related damages at no cost.

Project ReConnect: A collaborative program created after the derecho that covers costs for a licensed electrician to make repairs to Alliant Energy homeowners.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA): A national IRS sponsored program that offers free tax preparation for individuals and families. Households who make less than $57,000 per year are able to file their taxes through VITA.

Women United: Individuals who designate $500 or more to support women’s health efforts in East Central Iowa. UWECI partners with Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC), Community Health Free Clinic, and Eastern Iowa Health Center to provide prescription assistance, emergency dental care, vision care, medical co-pays, cancer screenings, and diabetic testing supplies to un- and under-insured women.

2-1-1: The FCC-designated national abbreviated dialing code for access to health and human services information and referral (I&R) nationwide.

NOTABLE PEOPLE & ORGANIZATIONS

• John B. Northcott Award: Linda Mattes
• Community Philanthropist Award: Susan & Kyle Skogman
• Young Leaders Award: Diana Rodriguez
• Lynn L. Nichols Award: All UWECI Funded Partners

Civic Business Volunteer Award: Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust
Community Family Volunteer Award: Bridgette & Jovountae Robinson
Emerging Volunteer Award: Emma Speer
Hand Raisers Volunteer Award: Dean Bennett
Lifetime of Service Volunteer Award: Arlan Braun
Social Impact Volunteer Award: Juan Ignacio Llanos

Aging Services, Inc.
Area Substance Abuse Council
Benton County Volunteer Program
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids and East Central Iowa, Inc.
Boys and Girls Clubs of the Corridor
Catherine McAuley Center
Community Health Free Clinic
Eastern Iowa Health Center
Foundation 2
Goodwill Industries of the Heartland
Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP)
Horizons: A Family Service Alliance
Iowa Legal Aid
Jane Boyd Community House
Kids First Law Center
Kids on Course
Rural Employment Alternatives, Inc.
Southeast Linn Community Center
The Arc of East Central Iowa
UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Dental Health Center
Volunteer Services of Cedar County
Waypoint Services for Women, Children, and Families
Willis Dady Emergency Shelter, Inc.
YouthPort
YPN

James Klein — Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust – Co-Chair
Kari Cooling — Holmes Murphy – Co-Chair
Dennis Jordan — Mortenson – Past Chair
Jim Beardsworth — Transamerica*
Lydia Brown — Skogman Realty
Noreen Bush — Cedar Rapids Community School District
Ron Corbett — Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance
Chris DeWolf — Lil’ Drug Store Products
Hugh Ekberg — CRST International, Inc.
Matt Evans — TrueNorth Companies
Lynn Hartman — Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman, PLC
Curt Heideman — US Bank
Kelly Lind-Daufeldt — US Bank
Joe Lock — Eastern Iowa Health Center
Shawn Lueth — Rathje Construction
Kelley Marchbanks — Advancement Resources
Rick Moyle — Hawkeye Area Labor Council AFL-CIO
Ann Oleson — Ruffalo Noel Levitz*
Duane Smith — TrueNorth Companies
Gary Streit — Shuttleworth & Ingersoll PLC
Dan Theis — OPN Architects, Inc.

Linda Mattes — Alliant Energy – Chair
Jim Beardsworth —Transamerica*
Kim Becicka — Kirkwood Community College*
Sarika Bhakta — Nikeya Diversity Consulting
Emily Blomme — Foundation 2
Ray Brown — ESCO Group
Noreen Bush — Cedar Rapids Community School District
Keesha Burke—Henderson – Mount Mercy University
Kari Cooling — Holmes Murphy
Andre Dawson — CRST International, Inc.
Pat Deignan — Deignan Consulting
Mayuri Farlinger — Alliant Energy
Brian Frese — United Fire Group
Deb Gertsen — Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust
Teri Gibson — TrueNorth Companies
Britni Gookin — Crystal Group
Dennis Jordan — Mortenson
Eric Martin — Transamerica
Kelley Marchbanks — Advancement Resources
Paul Morf — Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman, PLC
Nick Nielsen — GreatAmerica Financial Services
Michelle Niermann – UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s
Whitney Pino — Van Meter, Inc.
Dan Pulis — Cargill
Diana Rodriguez — Hibu*
Troy Sauter — Iron Workers Local 89 & Executive Board, Hawkeye Area Labor Council AFL-CIO*
Charlie Schimberg — Schimberg Co.
Dave Shreck — Collins Aerospace
Mindy Sorg — OPN Architects, Inc.
Lisa Stephenson — CRST International, Inc.
Nathan Van Genderen — Mercy Medical Center
Melissa Winter — Green State Credit Union

*has changed organizations or retired since publication printing