Community Investments

UWSWMN Community Partner Logo

Every Person.  Every Community.

United Way of Southwest Minnesota invests in local programs in order to accomplish our mission of uniting people and resources to improve lives and strengthen communities in southwest Minnesota.

Financial support from United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN) helps fund local programs serving people in the UWSWMN service area.  We focus our investments in five priority areas: health, education, financial stability, hunger and safety & well-being. UWSWMN is investing 2020 campaign funds in initiatives, community partner programs and partnerships serving approximately 44,000 local people.  The ripple effect extends the impact even further.

Community investment volunteers from throughout our service area have reviewed local grant requests and made funding recommendations to our local board of directors to be certain that your donation makes the most impact. Contributions to your local United Way improve lives right here where you live. Your donation will go far…but not far away.

United Way of Southwest Minnesota has also earned the Charities Review Council Meets Standards seal which is a marker of nonprofit strength and accountability for those seeking a place to make charitable contributions. We encourage donors to view our profile at for additional information.

Following are some impact stories, as well as a list of the programs that have/are receiving funds from the most recently completed campaign.  Also included are links to those programs (where available), as well as the purpose of the program funding. 

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.  In southwest Minnesota, we focus on health, education, financial stability, hunger and safety & well-being.   LIVE UNITED®

  • Two of our elderly residents, a husband and wife, developed serious health issues and are no longer able to work. Although they now receive Social Security disability benefits, they have trouble making ends meet with increased medical expenses. The Food Shelf provided them with the additional food needed to get through the month. Before, they often skipped meals because they needed to stretch their food supply. Without Food Shelf support, they would likely have more health related issues due to poor or inadequate nutrition. - Lake Benton Community Services
  • “WRAP has been a godsend to me. I started working with WRAP when an advocate, Julie, found me on the side of the road. Since then, WRAP has been a huge part of everything good in my life. They‘ve gotten me into a sex trafficking refugee shelter. They checked in to make sure that I was safe and if there was anything they could help with no matter where I was.” -  WoMen's Rural Advocacy Program, aka WRAP
  • “Heather” is a mother of 4 who was provided emergency shelter in the Refuge program after she lost her housing. She had no earned income at the time she entered the program. With staff advocacy, we were able to help her receive a Section 8 Housing Choice voucher. The voucher and UCAP case management assisted her, which allowed Heather to focus her efforts on finding employment and daycare for her children. Heather is now employed full time and she and her family are thriving. - The Refuge of United Community Action Partnership aka UCAP
  • I currently have a third grader who has been working with me since the beginning of the school year. She was making some progress but not as much as we knew she could or as much as her target needed to be. I am super proud to announce that after all her hard work she finally was able to reach her target score with no errors and she was the happiest little girl in the school that whole day! Seeing how excited they get and how confident they get makes my job so much more worth it! - Reading Program of Serve Minnesota

LSS Meals and Meals on Wheels of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota to provide nutritious meals and crucial social interaction to high-risk seniors to improve their mental and physical health, thus preventing or delaying the need for costlier hospital or nursing home care, thus enhancing their quality of life.

Hygiene & Gift Card Drive of United Way of Southwest Minnesota to provide personal hygiene items to local schools and organizations to distribute to individuals they serve who are in need of them.

Makerspace at Lincoln Elementary to provide a designated STEAM space where students are given tools to explore, invent, and collaborate.

Kindergarten Readiness Program at Mustard Seed Kids to equip classrooms with curriculum, materials, and supplies needed to provide age-appropriate instruction to prepare children for kindergarten.

Minnesota Reading Corps of ServeMinnesota to provide a proven tutoring method combining the science of how kids learn to read with the passionate, people power of AmeriCorps to boost more K-3 students to reading success by the end of third grade, a critical window in their development.

SWWC Student Enrichment of SWWC Foundation for Innovation in Education to provide financial assistance to help K-12 students find their passion in life by providing high-quality enrichment opportunities that are affordable to families and school districts.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, Born Learning Trails, Little Red Bookshelves, Fun in the Sun Kits, Jumpstart's Read for the Record, Beyond the Book activities, etc. by United Way of Southwest Minnesota to help ensure children enter school developmentally on track in literacy, social, emotional and cognitive skills and that students, K-12, have the tools needed to succeed and thrive.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of United Way of Southwest Minnesota to guarantee access to books for all children and to inspire parents/guardians to read to their children as much as possible.

Resilience Training Grants to Schools from United Way of Southwest Minnesota to participate in training to build the capacity of educators to implement and sustain system-wide, trauma-informed support for all students.

Student Emergency Funds from United Way of Southwest Minnesota to be used at the schools’ discretion to support their neediest students and help children and their families be able to focus on school success.

Stuff the Bus School Supply Initiative by United Way of Southwest Minnesota to provide school supplies to families in need so that students can create and learn to their full potential without the worry of not having the basic tools needed to reach their academic goals.

Junior Achievement programming of Junior Achievement of Lyon County to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in the global economy.

The Refuge Emergency Shelter of United Community Action Partnership to provide for the safety of individuals and families experiencing homelessness by offering temporary shelter and services to help them move from crisis to stability.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program of United Community Action Partnership to help low to moderate individuals and families claim important tax credits/deductions by connecting them to trained and certified volunteers who ensure the receipt of the tax refunds they qualify for.

Weekend food backpacks of Marshall Food4Kids to support families by supplying food to hungry children.

Sanitation and access improvements of Neighbors United Resource Center to improve access & sanitation required in the entry/waiting area of the Food Shelf in anticipation of the eventual return of in-house food distribution to customers during the pandemic.

Prairie Five Meals of Prairie Five Community Action to promotes healthy and independent living in the older adult population through improved nutrition and reduction of social isolation.

Kitchen Table Food Shelves of United Community Action Partnership to provide supplementary food assistance to people who have unmet nutritional basic needs.

Cultivating the Best in Play of City of Marshall/Marshall Community Services to enhance playgrounds by adding inclusive and equitable components where all children have access to play.

MindUp of Countryside Public Health to help nurture and educate students’ mental health by teaching calming techniques, emotional resiliency, and reduced aggression at a younger age.

Crime Victim Services of New Horizons Crisis Center to provide advocacy, support, and empowerment to those whose lives are impacted by sexual assault and general crime and reduce the occurrence and impact of crime and victimization in our communities.

Parenting Time of New Horizons Crisis Center to provide supervised visits and safe exchanges to best ensure the parent/child bond is preserved and keep families connected in a safe and secure environment.

Prairie Home Hearts & Hands Volunteer of Prairie Home Hospice & Community Care to engage/re-engage volunteers to assist and support hospice, home care and assisted living clients.

Youth Development Program of United Community Action Partnership to help children and youth build strong relationships with peers and adults through activities that build decision making, interpersonal, and life skills.

Domestic Violence/Sex Trafficking-Exploitation Victim Services of WoMen's Rural Advocacy Programs, Inc. to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking/exploitation.

Housing Program of WoMen's Rural Advocacy Programs, Inc. to assist victims of domestic violence & sex trafficking by having access to an enclosed trailer to help with the relocation process as they seek safety.

UWSWMN supported local organizations with emergency funding in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  A total of $40,695 was given out in three rounds of funding starting in April, 2020.  Following is a list of third round grant recipients who received funding in September, 2020. 

Marshall SEED Program of Greater Minnesota Family Services to purchase ongoing supplies for sanitization, cleaning and air purification needs for Marshall SEED program.

Lakeview Independent School District #2167 to purchase protective Plexiglas for various vital offices throughout the district.

Lincoln Elementary for COVID related needs, including purchasing an additional lunch table for their preschool students to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Marshall Public Schools to purchase disposable face masks for students that forget their mask and are required to wear one to board a school bus.

Minneota Public Schools to purchase Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and lanyards for student masks.

Murray County Central Schools to purchase disposable masks and/or cloth face coverings, floor markings, sneeze guards and mask lanyards.

RTR Public School District to purchase cleaning supplies specifically designed to combat the COVID-19 virus.

Samuel Lutheran School to purchase a specific cleaner by Stir Technologies along with spray bottles, containers to mix the solution and paper towels.

St. Peter's School to help purchase nine chrome books to eliminate student sharing of materials.

St. Stephen's Lutheran Preschool to purchase PPE & equipment (thermometer, alcohol wipes) for children and staff.

True Light Christian School to assist with cleaning fees, increased phone and internet access fees and desk shields.

Westbrook Walnut Grove Elementary School to purchase additional nurse time (currently one morning a week).

Housing Program of WoMen's Rural Advocacy Program to be used towards rent/utility assistance and food/cleaning supplies.