United Way announces, Wednesday, they’ll be restructuring – becoming “issue focused.”

RAPID CITY, S.D. — United Way of the Black Hills announced Wednesday that after seven years of research and discussion they will be starting a new business model and defining their values as a non-profit.

“We identified that – you know what – we need to adapt, we need to evolve with changing times,” said United Way Executive Director Jamie Toennies.  “But the process of determining how we are going to adapt and evolve we really were strategic and really tried to think out all possibilities, all scenarios to get where we are today.”

One of the biggest changes to come out of the move will be “issue focus” congruent with what they found in a community need evaluation.

Across five counties and a dozen or so communities are part of the United Way’s programs. In the region, one of the most prevalent issues noted by residents was mental health.

“Because mental health was the number one issue we decided  that one really deserved to be a standout on its own as an initiative to get a little more attention and resources dedicated to it,” said Toennies.

John T. Vucurevich Foundation awarded $200k to United Way to hire a program director for the non-profit – who would be tasked with focusing on mental health.

In the past, the non-profit worked as a middle man for over 50 organizations in the Black Hills region. With the three year phasing in of a new business model the money allocated to the organizations may change.

“The pot of money we have available is going to go down slightly as we start phasing in our new work in the next two years,” Toennies said.

Federal and state grant opportunities are also an option for fundraising which will become even more necessary while the group tackles the issues facing the community.

“We aren’t going to solve all these issues in three years but we are -by gosh-going to get the plans together and start investing in those strategies, to make a big difference,” said Toennies.

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