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2009-2010 Letter of Intent
United Way of Central Jersey
July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010
Program Investment Information


1. Introduction
a. Community Investment Process 2
b. Funding Criteria: Our Priorities 2 - 3
c. Program Application Guidelines 3 - 4
d. Community Investment Initiatives 5 - 7


 

 

2. Letter of Intent
a. Instructions 7 - 10
b. Cover Sheet 11
c. Applicant Agency Profile 12 - 13


 

 

3. Additional Guidelines
a. Definitions of Terms 14
b. Tips for Submitting Proposals 14 - 15


 




I. Introduction

a. Letters of Intent: United Way of Central Jersey will accept Letters of Intent, in essence three page concept papers from prospective applicants. Details on the purpose and description of Letter of Intent can be found on pages 8-16. The Letter of Intent will assess the degree to which programs align with United Way community investment initiatives, incorporate evidence based research and results oriented methods.

b. Funding Criteria: Our Priorities

In developing the design, process and structure for the July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010 investment cycle, United Way of Central Jersey has adopted an approach that reflects our United Way’s focus upon community impact and results, outcomes, measurement and achievement. United Way of Central Jersey will prioritize the funding of program initiatives in our three community investment initiatives:

1. Education
2. Income
3. Health

Additionally, and as in prior years, the United Way of Central Jersey will continue to attach the highest level of priority to:
(a) services targeting children at risk and
(b) programs addressing early childhood development as well as
(c) those services in the three investment areas listed above specifically targeting those clients who are most vulnerable, most in need, most desperate and who lack the financial resources to secure the critical help and assistance they need. We will consider those initiatives which focus not exclusively upon treating the symptoms, but on addressing the underlying causes, core issues and long-term solutions that result in lasting changes and improve lives not just for individuals but across the larger, broader community and populace.

For greater detail and descriptive information about each of the three investment areas, please refer to pages 5-7.


We also intend to more heavily base our funding decisions upon documentation that programs are evidence based and/or incorporate nationally recognized best practices and/or meet (or are clearly striving to meet) comprehensive and rigorous standards of quality service resulting in formal accreditation (e.g. Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, National Association for the Education of Young Children and Council on Accreditation). Programs should have a clearly articulated evaluation plan which details how measurable outcomes will be achieved.

United Way of Central Jersey will be considering the extent to which agencies are engaging in collaborations and partnerships with other organizations in efforts to identify and solve the most pressing and critical issues and problems in our service area. Where appropriate, we would expect to see formalized inter-organizational agreements and documentation relative to cross-referrals, joint initiatives and programming.

There needs to be demonstration that programs are administered in a fiscally responsible manner with direction from an active volunteer board and operated in alignment with the agency’s mission and strategic plan. When possible, programs are strongly encouraged to involve volunteers at all levels of planning and implementation. The United Way of Central Jersey’s Volunteer Center is positioned to assist with volunteer recruitment and assignment.

c. Program Application Guidelines

Letter of Intent and Full Proposal Eligibility: To be eligible to receive funding from United Way of Central Jersey, the applicant agency must:
  • Be a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is conducting a health and human service program that is meeting the needs of the people residing in Middlesex County and Franklin Township in Somerset County
  • Have updated bylaws and an active Board of Directors that meets with a quorum at least quarterly and adheres to a rotation policy which clearly specifies a period of time members are excused from attendance and voting
  • Have a stated mission, vision, and strategic plan
  • If required by law, file a Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service annually
  • Have an annual audit if the agency has gross receipts of $300,000 or more; an audit or review if the agency has gross receipts of $25,000 but less than $300,000; an audit, review or compilation if the agency has gross receipts of less than $25,000
  • Subscribe to the mission of and actively support United Way of Central Jersey as demonstrated by willingness to conform to the United Way of Central Jersey Agency Agreement, including conducting an annual United Way campaign among Board, volunteers and staff.


Letter of Intent Review Process: A Letters of Intent Technical Assistance Workshop will be held on June 30th from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm at the Middlesex County Fire Academy, 1001 Fire Academy Drive, Sayreville. Representatives from prospective applicant agencies are strongly encouraged to attend. RSVP to Patricia Desiderio by June 23rd (pdesiderio@uwcj.org or 732-247-3727, extension 23).

Letters of Intent are due back to United Way of Central Jersey by noon on July 31, 2008. Letters of Intent will be carefully reviewed by knowledgeable members of United Way’s resource investment committees based on the guiding principles described herein. These volunteers will determine whether or not to request a full program proposal.

Full proposals will then be reviewed in the same manner as in previous United Way of Central Jersey’s funding cycles (including committee reviews and site visits). Programs to be recommended for funding will be presented to the United Way of Central Jersey’s Board of Trustees which has final authority in all program funding decisions.

Letter of Intent Application Instructions: Specific application instructions can be found in the Letter of Intent Submission Procedures section on page 11. It is important to follow submission procedures since incomplete applications WILL NOT be considered. Faxed or emailed applications WILL NOT be accepted.

Letter of Intent: Applications must be received at the United Way of Central Jersey office (32 Ford Avenue, Milltown, NJ, 08850) no later than:
  1. LETTER OF INTENT: 12 noon on Thursday July 31, 2008
  2. INVITATION LETTER TO SUBMIT FULL PROPOSALS: August 28, 2008


LATE OR INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.


Community Investment Initiatives

EDUCATION
Helping Children and Youth Achieve Their Potential

Vision: All children and youth reach their fullest potential in a safe and nurturing environment

Goal: Increase the capacity of children to enter school healthy and ready to learn

Investment Strategies:

1. Support high quality, evidence-based early care and education programs that have attained or are working toward accreditation (or a comparable standard of excellence), are using best practice curricula, and provide appropriate staff training.
2. Promote early reading through parent/child literacy programs
3. Educate parents to be advocates for and to participate in their child’s education, recognizing that they are their child’s first teacher and most important support system.

Goal: Improve opportunities for youth to stay and succeed in school, to become work-ready and to develop into mature adults with a future

Investment Strategies:

1. Support academic/tutoring and mentoring programs for school age children.
2. Support programming for young adults, age 18 to 24, to successfully transition from high school to the working world.


INCOME
Promoting Financial Stability and Independence

Vision: Reduction of poverty through increased economic opportunity, stability and self-sufficiency for all Middlesex County and Franklin Township in Somerset County residents.

Goal: Increase the capacity of lower income working families and individuals to move towards financial independence.

Investment Strategies:

1. Support individuals through assisting in the development of activities of daily living as well as tenancy skills, budgeting and job readiness
2. Support programs that address language barriers and illiteracy in the community and the workplace
3. Support programming enabling individuals to take advantage of Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and health care options
4. Support affordable and safe child care by providing greater quality and access
5. Support vocational assessment programs as an initial step in identifying skill development and/or training programs that will result in employment at living wages

Goal: Increase the capacity of lower income families and individuals to build savings as well as gain and sustain assets.

Investment Strategy:
1. Support financial literacy for all families and individuals including asset building, credit counseling, knowledge of budgeting, personal finance, home buyer classes, responsible tenancy, etc.

Goal: Increase the availability of permanent affordable housing.

Investment Strategies:
1. Support transitional housing services to individuals and families
2. Support the development of affordable housing opportunities for the working poor and homeless
3. Increase the capacity of individuals and families to maintain housing though coordinated case management

HEALTH
Improving People’s Health

Vision: Contribute to a healthy progression through life through accessible and affordable high quality healthcare for all who need it on a timely basis.

Goal: Improve maternal health and infant well being.

Investment Strategies:

1. Educate parents about child development, effective parenting skills, health and the importance of good nutrition and exercise
2. Improve birth outcomes such as birth weight, gestational period and nutritional choices during and after pregnancy.
3. Educate parents about behaviors affecting the healthy development of children: violence, child abuse, substance abuse, etc.

Goal: Increase access to affordable, timely, preventive and ameliorative healthcare for uninsured and underinsured populations of all ages

Investment Strategies:

1. Establish and sustain preventive measures such as early screening and immunization delivery
2. Provide community based health services, including underserved communities
3. Support the availability of in-home services
4. Support services that improve access to medical, nutritional and dental care including transportation options and counseling
5. Provide free or affordable medication and medical supplies
6. Expand case management, mental health support and substance abuse services for persons with disabilities who are most in need
7. Support user friendly mental health and substance abuse service to diverse multi-cultural and multi-lingual populations with particular emphasis on supporting children with challenging behaviors, seniors and persons with disabilities

Goal: Increase the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors.

Investment Strategies:

1. Teach low income parents and their children the importance of good nutrition and exercise.
2. Promote evidence based preventative services that lead to improved health outcomes and avoidance of risky behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, in youth and young adults
3. Provide nutritional information and food choices at soup kitchens, food pantries and to the general community
4. Support individuals and families with opportunities to improve their knowledge, networks and ability to cope

2. Letter of Intent (LOI)

a. Letter of Intent Instructions

1. Purpose: A Letter of Intent (LOI) is a short “concept paper” no more than three pages that outlines a program’s theory of change in response to one or more targeted investment strategies under the vision statements listed in the three community investment areas (pages 5-7). The Letter of Intent should detail your program’s operational plan to leverage resources and coordinate services in order to achieve targeted community outcomes through the selected strategies.

The Letter of Intent is the initial mechanism through which United Way seeks to identify those programs that offer the most promise for helping to achieve the goals, outcomes and strategies of our community investment initiatives. Following review of the Letter of Intent, selected organizations will be invited to submit full proposals for program funding related to the three priority vision statements.

2. Program Description: Each Letter of Intent submission packet should include a program description that is organized such that the reviewer will be able to follow a seamless and logical flow of information (i.e., from a broad overview of the program to more detailed information about how it will be implemented and evaluated). The following score values indicate the relative importance of each evaluation criterion; however, applicants need not develop their program descriptions precisely in the order presented. The scoring attached to each of the categorical areas will be applied on a scale from zero to the maximum points indicated in the table below.

Category Maximum Points
Contribution to Community Investment Agenda 35
Collaboration 10
Program Effectiveness 35
Organizational Capacity 10
Creativity/Innovation 10
Maximum 100


For the Letters of Intent, it is not necessary to go into great detail for each category. Provide a brief description. If a Full Proposal is requested, full elaboration for each category will be necessary at that time.

3. Contribution to the Community Investment Initiatives (35 points): This criterion measures your program’s alignment with United Way of Central Jersey community investment initiatives. Applicants are required to clearly and logically describe the program and how it contributes to the community investment agenda. This includes clearly stating your program’s theory of change and program components, which show a clear link between program activities, strategies and outcomes. Indicate the target population to be served, which investment strategy will be addressed by the program, which performance measures will be used to evaluate the program and how your chosen methods will accomplish the work and contribute to changing lives in the community.

4. Collaboration (10 points): Collaboration is one of the key principles
of United Way’s investments in the community. Collaboration is a mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship entered into by two or more organizations to achieve common goals. The relationship may include commitment to: mutual relationships and goals; a jointly-developed structure and shared responsibility; mutual authority and accountability for success; interagency referral protocols and agreements; and sharing resources and rewards. Program descriptions should describe any collaborative efforts that directly contribute to the achievement of outcome(s). Include in this section only the ongoing, collaborative efforts that directly relate to program outcomes.

5. Program Effectiveness (35 points): United Way is interested in funding programs that are based on sound evidence and utilize an evaluation plan. We are also interested in funding programs from agencies that have had experience using research and evidence-based practices to design and implement programs and that have the ability to evaluate through outcome measurement. Program descriptions should clearly cite the research or evidence that indicates the proposed strategies will be effective in accomplishing performance measures.

6. Organization Capacity (10 points): Applicants should explain what elements of their organization uniquely qualify them to carry out the program. Because United Way has a finite amount of resources to invest, United Way is keenly interested in funding programs from organizations that can leverage other resources (i.e. money, time, talent, and knowledge) for this work. Examples might include the organization’s capabilities to attract other funding, recruit and use volunteers for service, minimize overhead costs, obtain technical assistance and shared staff expertise.

Organizations should demonstrate a history of sound management practices, including fiscal, information management, human resources, quality improvement, accreditation/licensing, Board development, fundraising and strategic planning. Strategies and program goals should be consistent with the mission and vision of the applicant organization. Letter of Intent should describe how the program fits with the mission of the organization.

We are also interested in funding programs in which the organization has a unique capacity to produce results through relatively low-cost projects. This may include programs that propose strategies to enlist and deploy the talents, time and energies of citizens, including residents of geographic areas which the program serves and/or clients of the programs.

7. Creativity/Innovation (10 points): United Way will fund programs that utilize resources creatively and demonstrate that the organization has thoroughly researched, assessed and planned the program with fresh ideas and solutions. This criterion reflects the need to “think outside the box” in solving our community’s most pressing needs in new and/or more effective ways by acting together and not in competition with one another.

8. Review Procedures: United Way will not establish a minimum score or “cut-off point” for review of applicants. Rather, the review score will be used to evaluate Letters of Intent within the context of United Way’s expectations for community change.

Determination as to whether to invite a full program proposal will be based upon the extent to which the Letter of Intent addresses a high priority need in any of the three investment areas. Other relevant considerations include current program compliance status, demonstration of best practices and collaboration with other agencies.

United Way may elect not to advance or fund any applicants with known management, fiscal, reporting, program, or other issues that make it unlikely that they would be able to provide effective and efficient services.

All funding decisions are made at the discretion of the United Way of Central Jersey Board of Trustees based on the recommendation of the Community Needs Committee.

United Way of Central Jersey reserves the right to reject any and all programs, in part or in whole, to negotiate with applicant(s) and to award funding to those programs deemed most likely to contribute to the success of the community investment agenda, i.e. to change lives.

9. Funding: Funding agreements are expected to cover the July 1, 2009 –
June 30, 2010 fiscal year subject to the following:
  • United Way has adequate available resources
  • Program fulfills contractual requirements
  • Program makes satisfactory progress in implementing and reporting outcomes.
10. Monitoring Expectations: As in previous funding cycles, Financial Reports and Program Reports (Outcome Chart) must be submitted in January (July 1 – December 31) and July (January 1 – June 30). These submissions are crucial not only for continued funding, but will be used to evaluate program effectiveness in forthcoming funding cycles.

11. Letter of Intent Submission Procedures: Each Letter of Intent will be evaluated to determine the applicant organization’s eligibility and appropriateness and to assess the potential of the program to effectively respond to our priority needs and outcomes. Following review, selected organizations will be invited to submit a full formal proposal. The Letter of Intent must include the following:
  • Cover Sheet
  • Organization Profile, including Eligibility Checklist
  • Program Description Narrative
The forms for these first three items are included in this packet.

Submit TEN COPIES of each Letter of Intent packet. Unless otherwise specified, use 8 ½” x 11” white paper. Submissions must be typed using size 12 point font and 1” margins. Do not bind or put in folders. Please staple or clip appropriate papers in the top left corner.

The completed Letter of Intent packet can be submitted via mail or by hand-delivery to:

Jessica Polizzotto, Director
Community Investment
United Way of Central Jersey
32 Ford Avenue
Milltown, NJ 08850

United Way of Central Jersey will NOT accept Letters of Intent that are emailed, faxed, incomplete or late

Letters of Intent are due to UWCJ no later than 12 noon, Friday, July 31, 2008
NO EXCEPTIONS


b. Letter of Intent Cover Sheet
Online Form - HTML Format Online Form - PDF Format



c. Applicant Agency Profile
Online Form - HTML Format Online Form - PDF Format


2. Additional Guidelines

a. Definitions of Terms

Terms for Measuring Program Outcomes
  • Theory of Change – Your assumptions or hypotheses about why particular strategies are chosen and how you will achieve your objectives, often framed in “if-then” statements. Theories of change start with a goal rather than a program and explain why the things you do should produce the results you intend. They allow you to explain how and why success is achieved and to document what worked and what did not.
b. Tips for Submitting Proposals and Letters of Intent
We hope these suggestions will assist you in developing an effective proposal.
  • Write the proposal for a reader who is not necessarily familiar with the specifics of your program but one who is knowledgeable about the community, health and human services within this community, and the target population you are serving.
  • Respond to questions succinctly yet completely. It is a difficult balance between too much and too little information. We recognize that each program is different and thus may have different needs for explanation and clarification.
  • Coordinate preparation. If more than one person is preparing the report, make sure they work closely together. (i.e., the Finance Department should prepare a budget that corresponds directly to the program plans and investment request described in the narrative by the Program Director.)
  • Recruit an independent reader. Ask someone who has not been working on the proposal to read it for you. Does the information provided give a complete picture of the program? Are all items answered completely? Does the reader come away with unanswered questions? Do the responses in the various sections complement and correspond to one another? Is there consistency of information throughout the proposal?
  • Put your best foot forward. It is our practice to give proposals to the community investment committees exactly as they are submitted. Although a computer spell check and grammar review is always helpful, it does not correct all mistakes. Make sure that the writing flows smoothly and makes sense. Ensure that all pages and related documents are included and are in the appropriate order.
  • Treat each proposal as unique. If more than one proposal is being submitted by the same organization, please ensure that each proposal is distinct and clearly reflective of that individual program. Be judicious with information that is “cut and pasted” from one proposal to another – it may detract from the readability and make it more difficult to distinguish the merits of one program from another. It is likely that different volunteers will read each proposal, so do not assume they will have the knowledge of other proposals you have submitted.
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