What We Fund

Below is a listing of United Way Programming and funded grant partners. Click each program to see the description.


Basic Needs

St. John’s Breadline, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, is a congregate meal site,  providing two meals per day Monday through Saturday and one meal on Sunday. Meals are served 365 days per year within a hospitable and positive environment that respects the dignity of the individual. These healthy and well-balanced meals provide food security to the hungry and often homeless members of the community.

Not only is the Breadline a safe place to ease physical hunger, it is a community center where the most vulnerable members of the community can socialize, build friendships, and access a myriad of social services through contact with agency staff, offering a lifeline while also fostering a sense of belonging.

This program is designed to provide refuge for women and their children facing homelessness as a result of a crisis in their lives. It is noteworthy that Contact Ministries accommodates girls and boys up to the age of 17, making it a distinct emergency shelter within Sangamon County. Contact Ministries is committed to serving homeless women and children without discrimination, ensuring equal support regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity. By offering a safe and inclusive environment, they play a crucial role in assisting vulnerable individuals and families during their time of need.

Emergency Shelter and Support Services/Threshold at Helping Hands of Springfield is a prominent program that operates as the primary men's shelter in Springfield. The program offers crucial emergency shelter services to men aged 18 and above who find themselves without a home. Each night, individuals in need are provided with a safe refuge, including a bed, access to showers, and two nutritious meals. By addressing the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness, Helping Hands plays a vital role in offering a temporary respite and support during challenging times.

The Crisis Nursery is a vital service that offers emergency childcare for children up to 7 years old. This program ensures that the Mini O'Beirne Crisis Nursery's hotline remains fully operational, providing round-the-clock assistance and enabling the facility to be staffed at all times. Through the program, trained caregivers are available to provide nurturing care to children in crisis situations. Additionally, crisis support services are readily accessible for individuals and families in need. The Crisis Nursery plays a crucial role in safeguarding the well-being of young children and providing a reliable source of assistance during challenging times.

This program provides nutritious meals to seniors who are unable to prepare their own food and are unable to visit one of the congregate meal sites supported by Daily Bread. This program, provided by Senior Services of Central Illinois, extends its support by delivering home-cooked meals directly to seniors in need. While there is no mandatory fee for the meals, a suggested donation of $3 per meal is welcome from those who are able to contribute. Though the average client tends to be females over 70 years old facing age-related health challenges, the program is open to any individual aged 60 or older, regardless of gender or specific health conditions.

Offering emergency shelter for adult and child survivors of domestic violence, this shelter provides 32 beds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, extending their assistance to individuals and families regardless of gender, race, age, or income within Sangamon and Menard County. In addition to shelter, Sojourn Shelter and Services, provides provisions such as food, clothing, and personal care items. The comprehensive services include crisis management, counseling, court advocacy, and legal support, all free of charge.

Many clients who seek their help are experiencing economic hardship and have limited resources, especially after living with routine physical assaults, threats/attempts on their lives, and severe isolation and degradation. This program aims to empower survivors by first providing a safe environment, then helping them achieve financial stability, supporting an independent life free from violence.


Mentoring has provided thousands of youth the opportunity for a caring, adult mentor in Sangamon County. Big Brothers Big Sisters are known as the “Gold Standard” of mentoring because of our child safety guidelines, nationally developed screening and training methods as well as our positive researched and vetted outcomes for youth. This mentoring program accomplishes this work by pairing children (Littles) with caring adult volunteer role models (Bigs) through One-to-One mentoring relationships (Matches) that are built on trust and friendship.

The Comprehensive Mentoring Program provides at-risk children with a positive and consistent One-to-One volunteer mentor to promote healthy development and functioning by reducing risk factors, improving social/emotional health and supporting academics.

Designed to make a significant impact on the graduation rates of first-generation college students, this program leverages the power of long-term, personal relationships through mentoring. The program goes beyond academic support and focuses on helping students develop essential non-academic skills and providing the necessary support for success in both school and life.

Mentor2.0 integrates career-focused mentoring directly into District 186's AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) classes. By embedding mentoring within the educational framework, the program, powered by Big Brother's Big Sisters of Central Illinois, aims to empower students, particularly those who are the first in their families to pursue higher education, to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Project Learn provides youth comprehensive year‑round learning experiences to ensure they succeed in school. This educational enhancement initiative operates outside of school hours and consists of homework help, tutoring, high‑yield learning and leisure activities, parent involvement, and collaboration with schools. Additionally, the summer component aims to bridge the educational gap that develops between school years.

The Boys and Girls Club program operates 5 days/week during the school year and includes a full day summer component which offers fun and engaging theme-based activities to mitigate summer learning loss, specifically in the areas of reading and mathematics.

Career Launch operates outside of school hours and supports teenagers in their educational journey, ensuring they thrive in school and beyond. With homework help, tutoring, career exploration, and parent involvement, the program empowers students to make informed decisions about their future. Through collaboration with schools and a robust summer component, Boys and Girls Clubs organizes Career Launch to offer a year-round learning experience for high school success and post-graduation planning.

The summer program includes career cluster exploration, job shadowing, college visits, and job readiness skill development. Additionally, the program promotes financial responsibility and independence by teaching money management skills. Recognizing the importance of social-emotional well-being, Career Launch also provides opportunities for personal growth. By integrating academic support, career exploration, and life skills development, Career Launch equips teenagers with the tools they need for a successful transition to higher education and the workforce.

Camp Compass is a free summer learning initiative aimed at empowering underserved elementary students. This program by Compass for Kids serves as a vital tool in combating summer learning loss and bolstering reading and math proficiencies. With a commitment to bridging the achievement and opportunity gaps prevalent between low-income students and their more advantaged peers, Camp Compass goes beyond academics to foster holistic growth.

Alongside enhancing core subjects, the program prioritizes the development of social-emotional skills and offers a diverse range of non-academic enrichment activities such as field trips. By cultivating a camp-like atmosphere filled with engaging experiences, the students are instilled with enthusiasm, nurturing their attendance and participation. Through its dedication to improving skills during summer, this program paves the way for increased high school graduation and even college enrollment.

Club Compass is a free, weekly program for low-income elementary-age children who attend Black Hawk, Dubois, Harvard Park, Graham, or McClernand Elementary Schools within District 186. The purpose of Club Compass is to provide our students with social-emotional and academic support, life skills, a safe space for them to learn and grow, and positive adult role models.

Every student who is part of Compass for Kids' Club Compass program has been referred to Club Compass by a teacher, Principal, Social Worker, or FACE Liaison at their respective school. Each participant comes from a low-income family and faces one or more additional risk factors such as homelessness, foster care, suspected abuse or neglect, food insecurity, and/or parental incarceration. Club Compass strives to empower these vulnerable children, offering them the resources and guidance they need to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.

The Leadership Experience is a carefully designed program consisting of 8 sessions that are tailored to different age groups. The program encompasses various areas including entrepreneurship and financial literacy, life skill development, outdoor education, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

By engaging in a range of activities aimed at promoting well-being and fostering confidence, communication skills, and collaboration among peers, the Outreach program directly addresses the unique challenges that girls face. It empowers them on their journey to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. The program strives to provide a supportive environment that equips girls with the necessary skills and mindset to conquer any challenge they may encounter.

The Autism Clinic at Hope is dedicated to fulfilling its mission of being a model program in the field of developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), specifically focusing on screening, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals with these disabilities.

The clinic helps children with ASD develop and strengthen their communication and relational skills, enabling them to succeed when they enter kindergarten. Alongside providing direct services to children, the Autism Clinic makes education for the children’s families and communities a priority. With a commitment to evidence-based treatments, community advocacy, and education, Hope aims to support children and their families in reaching their full potential.

Camp Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go! is a comprehensive four-week readiness program designed specifically for children entering kindergarten who have limited or no prior exposure to preschool or preschool-like experiences. This camp is available to students residing in Springfield within the school boundaries of Matheny School, Feitshans School, Wilcox School, or Hazel Dell School.

Camp Kindergarten aims to equip students with the essential skills necessary for a successful transition to kindergarten and build a strong foundation for their educational journey. Through a range of carefully planned experiences, the program supports the development of crucial cognitive, social, and emotional skills. Additionally, students and their families are provided with resources to ensure a positive start to the school year for the child, their family, and their teachers.

The Freedom School is a nationally recognized literacy-rich program that boosts children's enthusiasm for reading, cultivates positive attitudes toward learning, and enhances their self-esteem through activities and books that reflect their own images. Through a carefully crafted curriculum developed by the Children's Defense Fund, the program at the Springfield Urban League encompasses five essential components to support children and families: academic enrichment, parent involvement, civic engagement, intergenerational leadership development, and nutrition, health, and mental health.

Freedom School provides children with opportunities to discover the joy of reading and improve their ability to read, all while connecting to their own identities, cultures, and experiences. Nurturing a love for reading while promoting self-discipline, cultural awareness, and the values of community service and social action encourages confident, lifelong learners.

Financial Stability

This life-stabilizing budgeting and money management program is designed to support at-risk individuals who have been assigned a payee by the Social Security Administration or have voluntarily enrolled in the program. It offers comprehensive case management and advocacy services by trained professionals to chronically homeless and/or disabled individuals, aiming to ensure housing, bill payments, and overall stability through the payee program. By prioritizing stability, the program seeks to minimize hospital stays, shelter usage, and incarcerations by actively locating and maintaining housing options for participants, enabling them to live independently while receiving necessary support services.

The PATH program, operated by MHCCI within its Community Support Services Department, is a federal initiative administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Its primary objective is to assist individuals in finding safe and affordable housing of choice, while also addressing key social determinants of health and enhancing access to medical and behavioral care promoting wellness and recovery.

PATH offers a comprehensive range of services, including outreach efforts, screening and diagnostic treatment, recovery-focused rehabilitation, vocational referrals, psychiatric and counseling services, alcohol/drug referral, money management, and other vital skills necessary to attain and sustain independence and overall well-being.

The primary objective for this program is to provide comprehensive case management to assist seniors age 60 and older in maintaining quality, independent living with safety, comfort, and dignity. The Senior Services of Central Illinois program provides a range of services, including application assistance for supportive programs such as Medicaid and SNAP benefits, as well as housing applications and re-determinations. Additionally, the program conducts regular well-being checks and collaborates with service providers to offer one-time assistance for seniors facing challenges such as disconnect notices, utility bills, rental assistance, and emergency funds when necessary.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that senior clients receive the necessary support to enhance their overall well-being and maintain their independence in a dignified manner.

MERCY Communities provides Permanent Housing to families with dependent children through two subprograms, Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-Housing. These programs offer safe, furnished, and affordable housing, with comprehensive supportive services and a robust support system, aiming to empower homeless families to lead healthy, independent lives. By addressing the immediate and basic needs of shelter, food, and clothing, as well as tackling the underlying causes of poverty, MERCY seeks to foster long-term independence. The ultimate goal is for clients to maintain a stable home, enhance their life skills, and become self-sufficient. To achieve this, MERCY focuses on five key areas of self-sufficiency: housing, budgeting, parenting, mental health, and general life skills, providing a holistic approach to support families in their journey toward stability and independence.

This two-year employment and education oriented program is designed to help homeless women and their children achieve stability and self-sufficiency. By providing a stable home and intensive supportive services, the program offers a structured and goal-oriented approach to enhance the family's living skills. It specifically focuses on assisting mothers in completing their education, acquiring job skills, and developing the necessary life skills for long-term independence in permanent housing. To accomplish these goals, MERCY engages five primary pillars of self-sufficiency: housing, budgeting, parenting, mental health and general life skills through classes and one-on-one case management, and education and employment related skills.

The Urban League’s Empowerment Program focuses on addressing the employment barriers faced by at-risk adults. By empowering these individuals, the program not only facilitates personal transformation but also has a positive ripple effect on their families and the broader community.

The program's core components encompass comprehensive case management, educational interventions, occupational training, financial coaching, and income support. These targeted areas help equip at-risk adults with the tools and resources necessary to overcome employment obstacles, enhance their skills, and achieve self-sufficiency, leading to positive changes in their lives and the communities they belong to.

The Sustainability & Enhancement Program at Wooden It Be Lovely (WIBL) focuses on providing employment opportunities to women living in poverty who are in the process of healing from addiction and/or abuse. They are hired to refurbish donated furniture, engage in sewing activities, and create candles. WIBL intentionally reaches out to women who may have faced challenges finding employment elsewhere due to criminal records or poor work histories.

These women are given a job in a grace filled environment where they are mentored, supported, loved, and offered education. WIBL also connects them to community volunteers and resources, facilitating their ongoing journey towards sobriety, social skills development, and financial stability. Through its holistic approach, this program empowers these women to rebuild their lives, fostering personal growth and sustainable well-being.


Counseling at Lutheran Child and Family Services is a treatment initiative designed to support individuals with a wide range of needs. This program increases accessibility for underserved populations and expands the number of individuals who can receive vital treatment and attain stability. These services cater to children, adolescents, parents, caregivers, and families, emphasizing nurturing and delivering evidence-based, trauma-informed therapy through licensed clinicians.

By helping individuals harness their strengths and bolster their well-being, we enable them to lead fuller lives and contribute to safer, stronger communities. Services are available in-person or remotely, individually and in group settings. Our interventions are carefully selected to address mental health challenges and effectively treat trauma-related disorders. Furthermore, service provision is based on need, ensuring that individuals are not turned away due to an inability to pay.

In addition to addressing transportation needs of seniors aged 60 and over, this Senior Services of Central Illinois program aims to enhance knowledge and foster community connections to help seniors execute their personal health action plans. Regular training sessions for drivers on key senior health topics ensure they are well-informed and equipped to engage in meaningful conversations with passengers.

By capitalizing on the relationships built between drivers and seniors, drivers can refer seniors to necessary resources and follow up with them to ensure they were able to access and benefit from those referrals. This approach not only facilitates reliable transportation but also provides seniors with valuable information and connections to resources, empowering them to take charge of their health and well-being.

The Community, Integrated Response Connection Leveraging (CIRCLe) 2-1-1 program aims to provide outreach services to underserved and marginalized populations, including individuals with severe and persistent mental illness, those experiencing homelessness and addiction, and residents of high-crime and high-violence neighborhoods. Community Health Workers collaborate with law enforcement and focus on engaging individuals, assisting in stabilization, fostering self-sufficiency, and facilitating connections with existing community programs.

This SIU Center for Family Medicine initiative plays a crucial role in improving access to healthcare as the CHWs act as liaisons between the community and healthcare system. They work with individuals to connect them with services, make sure they’re reaching out for help, and ensure they keep their appointments. Together, this supports clients who might otherwise ‘fall through the cracks.’

Requested by student leadership as a proactive measure to address the diverse challenges and factors high school students, PEACE Rooms will be dedicated spaces within Springfield Public Schools, District 186, to provide a safe and neutral environment where students can work through their emotions and challenges with the support of mental health professionals.

This space will enable students to self-regulate during moments of intense emotions, process their feelings, regain focus, and return to class. The goal is to implement responsive restorative practices such as restorative conferences, peace circles, and peer juries. These practices help students understand the impact of conflicts or wrongdoing and guide them towards problem-solving, repairing harm, and restoration of relationships and community.

Wellness on Wheels (WoW) is a mobile health clinic providing comprehensive care to underserved communities. With an emphasis on prevention, education, and access to healthcare, Springfield Urban League's program empowers individuals to take control of their health. Recognizing that urban communities face disproportionately higher rates of preventable diseases, this program aims to bridge the healthcare gap by providing vital services where they are needed most.

Low-income and marginalized communities are less likely to have a primary care provider, often because they face barriers to healthcare such as the cost of insurance. This program helps remove those barriers.Through its mobile approach, WoW brings healthcare directly to the community, promoting wellness and fostering healthier lives for all.

Other Funding

Homeless Management Information System, MERCY Communities, Inc.

HMIS: Homeless Management Information System. HMIS is a local information technology system used to collect client-level data and data on the provision of housing and services to individuals and families at risk of and experiencing homelessness.


Disaster Services, South Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross

The Disaster Cycle Services program responds to community members facing any natural or man-made disaster, assists clients through recovery from the disaster, and teaches adults to prevent, prepare for, and respond effectively when a disaster occurs. We have been providing emergency services in the area for over 100 years. We are the only agency serving in the community that meets the immediate disaster-caused needs of families after a fire or other disaster strikes their home.


Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, United Way of Central Illinois

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library puts books into the hands and hearts of children across the world. United Way partners with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to provide a specially-selected, high-quality book each month to participating children from birth to age five.

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