$100K from United Way to help poverty fight in county

A group that helps people start their own businesses is one of 11 nonprofits selected to receive new funding from United Way of Snohomish County. The grants— more than $100,000 in 2014 — are part of United Way’s push to reduce intergenerational poverty.

Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help will get $15,000 from the local United Way. Known as Washington C.A.S.H., the Seattle-based organization is new to Snohomish County. For the past year, it has offered business development courses on the Everett Community College campus through an expansion of its Latino program.

That program helps low-income Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs create sustainable businesses. The $15,000 grant will be used to hire a program assistant.

In August, the local United Way announced that it would provide up to $330,000 over three years for what it calls “capacity building.” Rather than funding direct services to the poor, the grants are aimed at strengthening the nonprofit community through long-term help. They will pay for training and other professional development, boosting financial controls, board development, translation services, software, computers and infrastructure improvements.

“Washington C.A.S.H. has a long history of microenterprise development, helping very low-income people start their own businesses,” said Gylan Green, the organization’s executive director. “We’re committed to small-business ownership.”

Since its start in 1995 in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, the group has helped start about 1,600 businesses, Green said.

While a microbusiness may have up to five employees, “the majority of our clients are just creating a job for themselves — sole proprietorships,” he said. Examples include house-cleaning, painting and landscaping services, and child care, he said.

The Latino program expansion was an answer to many client requests in Snohomish County, Green said. “The client response has been overwhelming. And United Way of Snohomish County has been phenomenal to work with,” he said.

So far, the group has run four eight-week classes in Everett, each with about 25 students. Classes cover starting a business, sales and marketing, simple bookkeeping, licensing and certifications and keeping records for tax season.

Funding decisions for the new grants were made by volunteers serving on United Way committees that focus on children, financial stability for families and the community. Earlier this year, some of those volunteers helped decide where the local United Way would invest $7.9 million over the next three years in program grants.

“Our goal is to strengthen our community,” said Dennis Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County, in a statement released Thursday along with the grant recipients.

The other 10 recipients of capacity-building grants for 2014 are:

Community Resources Foundation, Stanwood: $8,000 to increase a volunteer coordinator’s hours to increase its volunteer base.

Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County: $10,902 to help with strategic planning as it relocates from a 15-bed shelter to a 52-bed facility.

Hand in Hand: $5,080 to launch a volunteer recruitment program, helping several agencies working with children in need.

Lake Stevens Senior Center: $5,865 to hire a part-time cook for midweek lunch service. The center now serves lunch on Fridays only.

Latino Education &Training Institute: $8,000 to fund a part-time employee to work with community colleges and seek additional grants.

Lutheran Community Services Northwest: $15,000 to upgrade a data management system for reporting and evaluating participant and outcome information. The change will let staff spend more time providing direct help.

North Counties Family Services, Darrington: $8,000 for infrastructure improvements and staff training to meet federal obligations. The agency recently received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Safe Harbor Free Clinic, Stanwood: $7,055 to train staff in financial management and contract with a professional grant writer.

Take the Next Step, Monroe: $8,000 for a part-time development and community outreach coordinator to seek grants and raise awareness of the agency’s work.

YWCA of Seattle King Snohomish: $11,978 to hire a part-time employee to meet reporting requirements and regulations tied to mental health counseling.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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