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Jun 9, 2016

United Way Of The Cape Fear Area: The Birth of the Community Impact Model

Sponsored Content provided by Chris Nelson - President, United Way of the Cape Fear Area

In early 2005, the Cape Fear Area United Way and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington partnered to conduct a comprehensive health and human services needs assessment. The UNCW Master in Public Administration program adopted the project as a capstone project to develop a framework for impact that would eventually be replaced by Community Vision councils. The assessment used multiple methodologies and identified the most pertinent and pressing service needs and barriers to care. The analysis allowed the Cape Fear area United Way to understand where citizens, providers and clients saw the needs and gaps in services, and ultimately resulted in better methods for investing resources and providing meaningful results. As a result of the needs assessment, the Community Impact Model was adopted as a blueprint for addressing community needs.
Subsequently, the local United Way and UNCW began to partner in more ways than just needs assessment. As part of the Blueprint for Impact, the need to provide support and technical assistance to our local nonprofits became apparent. Again, UWCFA and UNCW combined expertise to develop a program to address infrastructure and training needs for the nonprofit sector. Today, the Quality Enhancement for Non-Profit Organizations (QENO) program provides ongoing group learning opportunities, and custom coaching continues to be offered to strengthen the health and human service sector.
Also, as a way to help local nonprofit agencies advertise and promote their organizations, Star News Media began a free advertising program that would span the next decade and beyond.  A pro bono advertising program, managed by UWCFA, allowed any health and human service nonprofit agency to place an ad in the newspaper over a year’s time. This program, still in existence today, has given agencies $100,000 in free advertising space. To date, Star News Media has given more than $1 million in advertising space to local nonprofits.
The year 2006 was highly significant for United Way of the Cape Fear Area. Heeding the call of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Tri-County Homeless Interagency Council continuum of care local provider organization, and Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, United Way agreed to assist in the facilitation and development of a comprehensive 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness and Reduce Homelessness in the Cape Fear Region. The plan’s development process, managed primarily by retired orthodontist Dr. Spiro Macris, with assistance from interim housing authority director Wendell Daniels, took more than 18 months to complete.
Also, in recognition of the rapidly changing landscape of fundraising and philanthropy, UWCFA adopted the Community Impact Model for its continuing mode of operation, a concept which was being advanced nationally by United Way of America.
In June, a $675,000 UWCFA grant was awarded to a group of health and social services provider agencies that came together in 2003 to look at better ways to provide health care for uninsured and under-insured residents living in poverty. This three-year Cape Fear HealthNet grant was aimed at reinforcing the local safety net of health care provided to a growing population. It was the first of its kind to be made locally.
In addition, Dr. Steve Meinhold served a second consecutive term as board chair. Andy White, a GE executive at the time, served as campaign chair in 2006. In September, Pamela Wyatt replaced Lynn Pharr as executive director of UWCFA. Pharr took a position as director of disaster relief for United Way Worldwide.
Continue our walk through history as our next June Insight will continue through the mid-2000s. Join us as we celebrate you at our 75th anniversary on June 11, 2016 at Audi Cape Fear. Our 1940s-themed event will highlight the past 75 years, as well as focus on our present and future. All are invited. Find that perfect vintage outfit and come have some fun. Visit or buy tickets at, or call (910) 798-3900 for more information.
Christopher L. Nelson is president of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, a local nonprofit organization. Since 1941, the United Way of the Cape Fear Area has worked alongside local agencies in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties to assist them in providing substantial and sustainable change within the Cape Fear area. To learn more about the United Way of the Cape Fear Region, go to or call (910) 798-3900.

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