FITCHBURG, MA: February 3, 2021 — United Way of North Central Massachusetts (UWNCM) has released findings from a community needs assessment seeking to identify critical needs for individuals and families in the region. Based on the assessment, UWNCM has also updated funding priorities for its Community Impact Fund and invited select local agencies to apply.

In fall 2020, UWNCM undertook their community needs assessment to gain insight into challenges, strengths, and gaps in service in the region. The assessment included an analysis of publically available data; a community-wide survey conducted in four languages; and interview and focus group sessions with diverse community members.

Overall, the assessment found that many families and individuals in North Central Massachusetts face significant barriers to socio-economic growth, particularly as wages are not keeping pace with costs of living. Specific challenges include a lack of affordable housing and childcare, a shortage of meaningful out-of-school programming for youth, and economic instability resulting in community members being unable to afford basic household needs, such as food, clothing, and utilities.

In response to the findings, UWNCM has updated funding priorities for its Community Impact Fund—a long-standing initiative that supports diverse programs targeting the region’s highest priorities—to address the areas of education & youth development, economic opportunity, and supporting basic needs. UWNCM recently sent a Request for Proposal to select invited agencies to apply for grants for 2021-24.

“The comprehensive needs assessment has both helped us identify the most pressing issues impacting residents in our community and given us a blueprint for how we can effectively and efficiently create change,” says UWNCM President Kory Eng. “Through targeted funding, strategic initiatives and leveraging the power of our community, UWNCM is committed to tackling these issues and building a brighter region for all.”

An impact paper detailing the community needs assessment and findings is available at uwncm.org.