University’s Regional Outreach partners with five United Ways

Despite the decreased state budget allocations, the advisory
council of Murray State Office of Regional Outreach has
decided to allocate approximately $158,000 toward projects that are said will improve the
region.

The advisory council, made up of representatives from the
University’s 18-county service region, met Aug. 23, to deliberate over
numerous project proposals. Through the entire process,
delegates tried to identify and fund projects that met the
council’s four main goals of education attainment, job creation,
collaborative partnerships and quality of life.

To date, the council selected 10 projects to fund at a total of $158,265, leaving the
council with money to grant as the year continues. Projects ranged in
scope from STEM education, Shakespeare, early childhood
language exhibit, connecting volunteers to non-profit organizations.

After five years of managing regional grants funds, the advisory
council has become steadfast in their adherence to the four goals of the
program.

One of the projects partners five United Ways in western Kentucky.
“Get Connected” is a website that connects volunteers with the
organizations they want to benefit. Aaron Dail, executive director of
the United Way of Murray-Calloway County, said he was ecstatic when he
discovered “Get Connected,” was chosen as a worthy proposal.

Dail said if the full amount of $12,800 wasn’t funded, the project wouldn’t be possible.

“It wasn’t going to happen,” Dail said. “It was really a save the day
kind of thing for Regional Outreach to make it happen. It created more
flexibility for the six United Ways to do this.”

He said the partnering United Ways didn’t have the financial capacity
to fund such a large project. The agencies had the energy to put the work in, but without funds the process wouldn’t have been successful.

“We saw a huge opportunity and thankfully so did Regional Outreach,” Dail said.

The goal of the Office of Regional Outreach is to fund seed money that can
allow a project to begin and gain sustainability over the years.

Since the office’s creation in 2007, funding has slowly dwindled while
requests have increased. It’s been the advisory council’s duty to take
the funds available and allocate them in a way to benefit projects
with the highest capacity for impact. The council meets again Oct. 26
and will entertain additional projects for funding.

Staff Report.