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United Way Ends Funding to Certain Columbus-Area Programs

United Way of Central Ohio has new criteria to determine how funds are allocated to member agencies. A spokesman says the organization - which distributes about 28 million dollars for Columbus area programs - will concentrate on helping meet basic human needs -- health care, housing, and education. But some programs are not being funding next year.

For most United Way member-agencies next year will be business as usual. But for a few others there will be sizeable dents in the bottom line. About $2.4 million is being taken away from agencies that include the American Cancer Society, the Urban League, the Epilepsy Foundation, Goodwill and United Cerebral Palsy. Kermit Whitfield, spokesman for United Way says his organization has a new strategic focus it's using in its funding process.

"We went through and reviewed all the programs that we currently fund and looked to see if those met these priorities or didn't," Whitfield says. "In the vast majority of cases they do."

But two programs at Jewish Family Services did not meet the new criteria so the center will lose about $183,000. That means that counseling and mental health services for the uninsured and working poor at Jewish Family Services will end.

The Columbus AIDS Task Force will lose about $85,000. It operates on about 3.3 million dollars annually. Chad McCoury is the AIDS Task Force director.

"It's definitely a loss for us," McCoury says. "When United Way allows us to apply for funding in the future we will absolutely be prepared to apply for that funding and make sure that our programs and services are in line with their strategic plans and services that they've put forward."

LifeCare Alliance lost $115,000 for cancer prevention, but funding was renewed for six other programs according to Whitfield including one well-known program for the elderly.

Meals on Wheels, through LifeCare Alliance, that program meets our priorities," he says. "It will continue to receive 100 percent of the funding that it has received in the past for the next funding cycle."

At the Columbus AIDS Task Force Chad McCoury is optimistic that funding might be restored in the future.

We're currently assessing the situation," McCoury says. "It doesn't necessarily mean the elimination of programs or staff or services, it just means for us that we will be looking for another funder to underwrite those programs or services."

"We're going to be creative," he says.