Community Investments

UWSWMN Community Partner Logo

Every Person.  Every Community.

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

The United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN) provides financial support to local programs that serve people in the UWSWMN service area. Our investments focus on five priority areas: health, education, financial stability, hunger, and safety & well-being. With the help of community investment volunteers, we review local grant requests and recommend funding to our local board of directors to ensure that your donation makes the most impact. Our investments in initiatives, community partner programs, and partnerships serve approximately 35,000 local people, and the ripple effect extends the impact even further.

Contributing to the United Way of Southwest Minnesota improves people's lives in your community. Our organization has earned the Charities Review Council Meets Standards seal, 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.

We have impact stories and a list of the programs that have received or are receiving funds from the most recently completed campaign. We have also included links to those programs (where available) and the purpose of the program funding. Your donation will go far, but it will not go far away.

With your help, there's HOPE - LIVE UNITED®

  • Comments from participants in the Lutheran Social Services meals programs

    • “I am wheelchair bound and I can’t cook for myself any longer. The meals help me to stay in my own home.” 
    • “I am so glad that my mom gets meals on wheels, I know she is getting a good nutritious meal and someone is checking in on her every day.” 
    • “The meals are a real blessing to me. I go to the pop-up events and pick up enough meals for a couple of weeks at a time. They are very good meals.” 
    • “I can’t afford many fruits and vegetables on my social security income. LSS Meals always has a great variety of different healthy food items that I enjoy.” 
  • Support from parents regarding Dolly Parton's Imagination Library book program

    • I have two daughters who look forward to their monthly books from Imagination Library every month! It is a great program to encourage reading and keeping physical reading activities alive amid the technology rush. Our whole family is very grateful for this program - thank you. 
    • Thank you so much for the wonderful books! I am disabled, and I cannot take my children to the library on my own, so we are rarely able to go to the library to borrow books. But because of the Imagination Library program, we have books delivered to our mailbox each month! It is a wonderful treat for my children and me.​​
  • In support of ServeMinnesota Reading Corps

The current Murray County Central Elementary Internal Coach, who is a school leader, made the following remark about one of their tutors: “[She] is awesome! She is constantly looking for ways to improve and help her students achieve. She takes feedback well and implements it almost immediately in her tutoring sessions. She communicates with the classroom teachers and me about any schedule changes, absences, and student concerns. She is an important part of our K-1 literacy team, and we hope she can continue with us as long as possible!"

One amazing example is a single mom named “Miranda.” She came to our program fleeing domestic violence with her eight children and needed emergency shelter. Miranda was very motivated and worked closely with her case manager. Within ten days, we were able to located and have her accepted into new housing. She also had found a job. Within a very short time, Miranda had left homelessness, had stable employment, and gained access to a rental subsidy that will make her unit affordable for several years. Miranda and her kids are doing great. 

Another example is “Sarah” who had three children but was currently living on cash assistance through the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). Sarah was unable to work in 2021 and did not file a 2020 tax return. When the Advanced Child Tax Credit payments started coming out from July-Dec 2021, she did not receive any payments. Normally families with no earned income would not be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, but there were no such restrictions this year. Through meeting with UCAP staff, she was connected with our VITA program and had volunteers prepare her return. Upon filing, Sarah was able to receive several thousand dollars thanks to this special credit. This allowed Sarah to get caught up on several bills and even buy a few extra needed things for her children. She learned about this through some special marketing we were able to do this year. These efforts were to help families know to contact us even if they normally would not need to file a tax return. Sarah was very grateful for the service, and we were so glad to help. – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

A couple came to Tracy homeless having fallen on hard times. Once there a church gave them the parish house to stay in until they can get on their feet. They came to the food shelf as 1st timers. They were not aware they could even qualify for services and were reluctant to take as much as we could give them. They felt others must need it more although we knew they did not have a single item of food in their home. As volunteers helped one of them shop the other worked with staff to complete a SNAP application on site and it was then sent in. They left that day in tears as they stated they "didn't know generosity like this still existed and they are so grateful". A couple days later they called back stating they had already heard back and they’ll receive $137 a month in EBT benefits. We gave them the info flyer for transportation, as they both were transit drivers in Chicago before moving here. He was happy to hear UCAP offers help with getting the extra certification needed (to become a driver) and were going to look into applying for jobs.

  • From a participant in the Parenting Time program run by New Horizons Crisis Center

“I thought coming to a supervised visit would be uncomfortable and awkward, but the monitors were very welcoming and I didn’t feel judged.” She also expressed: “It was nice to have an option their dad could agree to, and where scheduling visits with him wasn’t something I had to worry about.” 

  • From an individual receiving services through New Horizon Crisis Center's Crime Victim Services program

The father of a family of five was found guilty for crimes against his children and was sentenced to 25 years. His wife was completely surprised by all of this and was left with a tough set of legal, financial and emotional issues. The mother was very reluctant at first to engage with anyone, because she was so devastated with what had happened other family. The advocate, “Jane’s” gentle approach helped engage the mother, and after 7 months, great progress has been made. Jane probed for understanding of the many issues facing this mom, and developed a strategy for how to move forward. Jane sought other resources and got mom engaged with Legal Aid in Marshall, and other services for financial help. Without the services offered by New Horizons, this mother would not have made it alone.

“I was in this relationship for 24 years. Was married and had two kids. Been through a lot in that time. I did a lot on my own with no help tired and exhausted. Had a husband that was an alcoholic. He was very verbally abusive. But I held myself together for the kids always hoping he would quit. I was too scared to tell my family and friends what was going on behind closed doors. Or what they would think if I told them. Could they help me or would it make it worse. Well then, my husband got bad into the drugs. I was fearful for my life but still didn't tell anyone what was going on. Then an incident happened where I hard to call the police. I thought my life was over everyone would know what was going on. Embarrassed and scared, but family by my side. The officer gave me a card it was a WRAP card never heard of WRAP before in my life. It took me couple days to call I was scared. I called and a nice voice was on the phone her name was Jackie. We talked and I cried a lot if you would know me I'm a strong person I don't cry. She made me feel comfortable and not scared. She taught me to not apologize for thing I can't control and not my fault and don't carry so much family friends are there to help you. If you get anything from my story, you’re not alone. You may feel alone, but there are amazing people out there that are willing to help you get through this be by your side

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.

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, 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.

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 weekend snacks for hungry children to eat at home.

Prairie Five Meals of Prairie Five Community Action to promote 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.

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 for estranged parents and their children to ensure safety and a continued parent-child bond.

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