27 Nov CRP Spotlight: How United Way of the Plains Leads the Way for Positive Change
Anchored by Wichita, south central Kansas has big ambitions that belie its modest Midwestern roots.
As United Way of the Plains sees it, the vision is to turn the region into “a top 10 location in the nation to live and raise a family where all are welcomed and have a fair chance to thrive.”
A major part of this goal is to reduce the poverty rate to below 10 percent by 2030, which would mean lifting 61,175 people out of poverty. The region’s current poverty rate of 12 percent has held steady for more than 20 years, so this is no small task.
To achieve its vision of making south central Kansas one of the most livable places in the country, United Way of the Plains has led the charge to be the regional catalyst for positive change. The organization wants to play a central role in identifying the root causes of social service problems and coming up with innovative solutions.
“We want to be that rallying point for the community, whether the issue is around food security, education, or health,” said Mark Stump, director of direct services at United Way of the Plains. “We want to create a ‘safe play area’ for different organizations to bring their agendas, partner together and make things happen.”
One of the most visible ways that the organization brings together other nonprofits is by serving as a Good360 Community Redistribution Partner, or CRP. It is one of more than 50 CRPs strategically located around the country that amplify our overall impact by redistributing large quantities of donations to charities in their area.
United Way of the Plains calls its CRP distribution center the “GIV program,” which stands for Give Items of Value. Each year, the program distributes up to $1 million worth of goods to more than 300 local social service agencies — all free of charge. The items range from office furniture to school supplies to apparel.
Local nonprofits can visit the 11,000-square-foot facility once a month. At this time of the year, winter-related items such as warm-weather clothes, blankets and bedding are in high demand.
“We’re also staring the holidays in the face, so agencies are looking for anything that they can give to children,” Stump said. “The nonprofits greatly love this distribution program because it means they can spend less money on supplies and put more money back into their programs.”
United Way of the Plains leverages Good360 donations in other ways as well. The organization is one of the most active participants in our Retail Donation Partnership (RDP) Program, and was one of the four nonprofits that helped us pilot our new Walmart Store Pickup program. United Way of the Plains currently manages weekly pickups at 11 Walmart Superstores.
The success of these local retail partnerships largely depends on the ability to create good relationships with store associates and managers. United Way of the Plains has come up with an interesting idea to recognize Walmart employees for the impact that they’re making through the donations that they put together each week: Associates receive a one-sheet that explains exactly how the donations help families in need and shows who’s actually getting this critical assistance.
“The Walmart employees were blown away,” Stump said. “They could see that there are lives touched by them assembling these donations. This retail program has helped us to expand our impact because of the variety of products we’re receiving from Walmart.”
As the Wichita region looks to improve the quality of life for everyone, United Way of the Plains is positioning itself as one of the leading advocates for the area. Good360 is thrilled to be a part of this effort to lift people out of poverty and help the most vulnerable communities.