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Heart of Missouri United way targets the causes of poverty

Heart of Missouri United Way announced its new funding recipients Wednesday as part of its Community Impact model, which will shift focus from assisting those living in poverty to targeting causes of poverty.

Eight new agencies will receive funding next year, and some agencies will lose funding as Heart of Missouri United Way seeks to reduce need in poor communities, not just fill it.

Tim Rich is the executive director of Heart of Missouri United Way, which serves Boone, Cooper and Howard counties. He said rather than fund agencies as a whole, United Way volunteers chose to fund specific programs to help at-risk youth avoid or escape poverty.

"They weren’t concerned about money, they weren’t concerned about agency names, they weren’t concerned about who’s been a traditional United Way partner," Rich said. "They were really looking at what strategies will be best at solving our community’s problems."

The Youth Empowerment Zone is one agency that will receive funding for the first time in 2013. Executive Director Lorenzo Lawson said this funding will help the organization deal with the increase in crimes committed by young women in poverty.

"One of the areas that we were lacking in was we didn’t have enough programming for single parent mothers, the teenage girls," Lawson said.

With this new focus on youth, some agencies that help the elderly, like Meals on Wheels, will no longer be funded by Heart of Missouri United Way. Meals on Wheels Executive Director JoNetta Weaver said she hopes additional fundraisers will make up for the loss of funding.

"There’s some agencies that deal with just seniors, and we’ve been able to put our heads together and begin to identify how we can make this work for the whole community," Weaver said.

Heart of Missouri United Way will make a public announcement of the changes at an event Friday at MU.