Sioux Empire United Way’s funding application process incorporated a new component this year: an introspective look at diversity, equity, and inclusion within each organization and the potential impact on the access to and the delivery of services.
This is an important step for an organization that funds 40 local agencies, which provide a wide array of services – including childcare, mental health counseling, and transitional housing. “The new information gathered in our application process will allow our organization to determine where our funds assist in providing equitable access to services,” said Brenda Kibbe, Board of Directors Chair.
Seven new questions on a funding application may seem like a small step, but it is a necessary one in taking a holistic approach to equitable services. “As an organization that works with families who need assistance. It is vital that we take every step to engage with the facts, so we have the information that can help as many families as possible. The additional DEI questions help us to access the information to those in need of our services and we can make an even greater impact in our community and accomplish more with our United Way funding," said Kathy Martens, KIDSTOP Director.
Sioux Empire United Way is also a launching spring and summer DEI training series for funded organizations. Sessions will be educational and conversational, and take a deeper look into the importance of capturing and deciphering data. Clements & Johnson Consulting and the Augustana Research Institute will host upcoming sessions. The first session was in April, focused on diversity versus inclusion. Following sessions will explore implicit bias and microaggressions before a multi-part series on data and outcome measurements.
Sioux Empire United Way is continually looking for innovative ways to find and fund community solutions. At the beginning of the pandemic, the organization quietly partnered with the Sioux Falls School District to distribute grocery gift cards to families facing difficulties. The organization has increased funding to address greater needs in mental health services in the past year as well. “It’s possible that new services or new delivery of services will be discovered as our non-profit community continues this conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Kibbe. “I have a good feeling that our DEI-focused efforts will make a long-lasting impact.”