AUGUSTA — Donations to the United Way of Kennebec Valley’s latest annual campaign totaled more than $1.8 million, increasing 12% over the previous year’s total and marking the most ever raised by the organization in a year.

That announcement came Wednesday at the United Way of Kennebec Valley’s virtual Campaign Celebration and annual meeting.

“It’s been a historic year for the United Way of Kennebec Valley,” Amy Tardiff, chairwoman of the United Way’s board of directors, said at the start of the meeting.

During the year the organization expanded its territory to include northern Kennebec County for the first time, bringing all 30 communities under its umbrella, Tardiff said. The nonprofit group offers a range of services with partners in the region, including food bank and emergency services, meals on wheels, youth outreach, transportation, child care and more.

Tardiff also noted the United Way and its partner programs launched its Innovation Fund, funding two programs for the first time.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Mid-Maine was granted $30,000 for its Bigs with Badges program, a mentoring program between the Augusta Police Department and students at Gilbert Elementary School in Augusta. Healthy Communities of the Capital Area was granted $15,000 for its LGBTQ+ Youth Experience Summer Supports program that launches later this year.

“None of these successes would be possible without the leadership and innovation of Courtney Yeager and the United Way staff,” Tardiff said.

Andrew Silsby, president and CEO of Kennebec Savings Bank and chairman of the campaign just completed, said seeing all the support offered by businesses and community members has been heartening.

“The theme this year is ‘Hopeful: United for a Stronger Community,'” Silsby said. “For me, being hopeful isn’t just a one-time thing or even a one-year commitment. It’s a way of life. We’ve all had cause to be less hopeful these past two years, but I remain hopeful that we will gather again for next year’s celebration.”

Silsby said he’s hopeful because so many people and organizations turned out to support the United Way and in turn the people served by the programs that the United Way’s funding supports.

When donations were tallied, the United Way of Kennebec Valley raised $1,824,975.

The increase in fundraising is due to two factors, officials say.

One, Yeager said, is the expansion into northern Kennebec County and the other is High Five challenge issued by campaign chairman Silsby and Kennebec Savings Bank, which urged all donors to increase their gifts by 5% this year. More than two-thirds of donors did so.

The United Way’s 46 nonprofit partner programs are currently submitting their reports from the last round of funding in 2021, and decisions about 2022 funding are expected to be announced at the end of February.

The United Way of Kennebec Valley is one of the organizations to take part in Impact 2032, a goal-setting council made up of community leaders across business, government and nonprofit sectors that have been working to identify priorities to support over the next decade.

In October, the organization released its Report to the Community, which named as top community issues: job opportunities, high-quality schools, access to affordable healthy food, health care services, public safety and a reasonable cost of living.

To support those goals, the United Way is redesigning its investment process this year, and it will open applications to nonprofits for 2023 in the fall.

“We are ramping up for the new process,” Yeager said.

 

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