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About Us - Agenda for Lasting Change


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Agenda for Lasting Change Timeline
Business Framework

2010 - Develop Community Solution Teams –  Education, Income and Health

a deep and authentic understanding of the nature of the community and people's lives. Identify critical needs
(solution teams, community concerns survey, focus groups).  Determine vision and target issues.

2012 – Comprehensive Advancing the Common Good blueprints for change established (Education, Income and Health) outlining:
1) Community goals/visions (measurable and achievable)
2) Target issue
3) Objectives
Multi-dimensional strategies for achieving progress and changing community conditions in organizations, systems, neighborhoods, and personal networks. 

Fall 2012 - Board approval of Advancing the Common Good blueprints for change and transition timeline to revise policies, grant applications, etc.

Aug 2013 New grant/community investment applications available with possible multi-year funding opportunities      

June 2014Funding recommendations from Community Investment Cabinet (allocations committee) using new investment/strategic alignment process  

2014 – Report on Advancing the Common Good blueprints for change
Measurement begins and results of progress towards goals will be reported annually to the community.

Ongoing – Outcome measurement training and technical assistance; communication, outreach and education with community; revise and develop UW governance structures to guide the implementation of the Agenda and Advancing the Common Good Blueprints.


A plan to Advance the Common Good in Meaningful, Long-lasting and Measurable Ways

In January 2010, the United Way Board of Directors approved an exciting new approach to having significantly greater impact on the major human service issues facing our community – an Agenda for Lasting Change
to Advance the Common Good.

Agenda for Lasting Change
Slide Presentation

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Agenda for Lasting Change

Agenda for Lasting Change Vision

The United Way will be a community leader in: identifying the priority issues on which action is required to improve people’s lives; develop targeted, comprehensive plans for action that will lead to defined outcomes; and United Way will commit to specific roles, as a leader and a partner, in executing those plans.


United Way of Bemidji Area will devote resources over the next 4 years to the Agenda for Lasting Change, a transition plan to  focus our efforts around community goals, strategies and indicators of success for changing community conditions and improving lives in long-lasting, meaningful and measurable ways.

The Agenda for Lasting Change plan will:

  • identify specific goals with key measures for our community based on critical needs in the areas of education, income and health;

  • build on existing community strengths and assets;

  • address gaps and redundancies in services;

  • identify the right multi-dimensional strategies that will address community issues; influence community conditions and improve lives;

  • connect program outcome measurement to community impact work, recognizing that tracking and measuring both program and community level/systemic progress are needed to create community change.

The Agenda is designed to be fluid and ever-evolving – we know we will want to refine the Agenda with new learning and ongoing monitoring of community conditions and issues. During the process, we will foster discussion among our agency and community partners and seek input to strengthen the focus of the work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will United Way still support local nonprofits?

Yes, United Way will continue to invest in local nonprofit programs and services that align with the community goals, but it will only be one strategy we take in making progress toward a community goal.  The new model calls for us to work with organizations, systems, neighborhoods and personal networks as a partner to affect change.  Along the way, we will measure our progress and report the results.

Why change to a community impact model?

United Way no longer wants our success to be defined by how much money we raised in the campaign.  Fundraising will be a means but not the end. 

We want success to be defined by how much progress did we make as a community and what measurable changes occurred to improve lives and we want to be able to answer that question with precision because we have established the community impact measures that enable us to mark progress.

Is outcome measurement going to cost nonprofits more administrative time and money?

Good measurement systems/models do take time, strong leadership on-going training/development, and an understanding of how to use the outcomes to increase the effectiveness of programs.  United Way believes in supporting agencies through the process - providing on-going training and technical assistance.  Outcome measurement doesn't have to be cumbersome, overly time consuming, cost additional resources or become a burden for agencies.  We recognize that agencies are already doing a lot with a little.  But we also feel it is a nonprofit’s fundamental responsibility is to continually strive towards its mission, and in doing so it must track its progress with ongoing outcome measurement.

The following is an excerpt taken from the article Outcome Measurement Now More Than Ever by Hedda Rublin, Principal, TDC
http://www.tdcorp.org/pubs/Outcomes_Measurement_Article.pdf, which we feel does a great job in explaining the benefits of outcome measurement.
Such an effort is critical to ensuring an organization’s accountability to all of its important stakeholders, including the individuals it seeks to serve, the communities in which it operates, and the institutions and individuals who support its efforts with monetary and volunteer resources. Outcomes measurement can also help an organization achieve other important objectives:

  • It helps an organization measure its success. When clearly tied to an organization’s core purpose, ongoing outcomes measurement helps the nonprofit assess how successful its efforts have been; identify where significant problems exist; and motivate staff to strive for continuous service improvement. Effective performance measures can energize an organization, shift or create a new focus, define resource allocation, and communicate to all key stakeholders – from volunteers to staff to board members – where an organization is headed.

  • It allows an organization to focus its resources to achieve the greatest impact. This process is particularly critical in a time of scarce resources, helping an organization do more with less, and make a more powerful case for additional funds. It allows a nonprofit to streamline its programs to be their most effective, determine which areas could be scaled back for cost savings with minimal impact on effectiveness, and demonstrate the organization’s impact to funders.

  • It enables an organization to be more competitive in its quest for funding. If done well, outcomes measurement can also help a nonprofit distinguish itself in an increasingly competitive funding environment. Tangible outcomes data demonstrates to funders the real impact that an organization is having, that it has clear and realistic program objectives, and that it is able to adapt its programs over time to achieve the greatest impact.

  • It informs better program planning. A well-planned program will naturally lend itself to a system for measuring outcomes. In light of this, as you plan your programs, also develop your outcomes measures. There can be no effective program planning without a consideration of that program’s core objectives and a means for measuring progress against those objectives. In designing programs, nonprofit leaders must ask themselves from the outset “Did we meaningfully improve people’s lives in a way that we can measure?” If they do not, they will run the risk of trying to demonstrate program success by answering the less-compelling question, “How busy were we?”

  • It lets an organization – not its funders – define outcomes.   Nonprofits that fail to assert their own accountability agendas may find that they have outcomes defined for them by grantmakers as a condition of funding. Often, donors can be overly optimistic regarding the impact that a single organization can have. We would encourage all organizations to be proactive and manage funders’ expectations. Define for yourselves what success would look like for your organization, and engage your
    funders in a dialogue about your programs’ core objectives and how you will measure your progress.

Will United Way's investments in partner agencies be solely based on good outcome performance?

No.  We want to work with agencies to establish good measurement systems and make this an easy process so they can be successful in spending their time and money wisely on improving the effectiveness of their programs. We will review other important criteria and take into account the very real variability among programs, when making investment decisions.

Community Impact Solution Teams

Community Impact Solution Teams act as the United Way of Bemidji Area’s advisory group, helping to develop United Way’s blueprint for Advancing the Common Good, long-term community impact plan that includes strategies, targets and expected outcomes in creating opportunities for everyone to have a quality life by focusing on the building blocks - education, income and health.  Engaged year-round, the solution teams serve as a primary vehicle for mobilizing the Bemidji community and for integrating the full potential of resources and assets in accomplishing the mission and vision of United Way of Bemidji Area.


Julie Johnson, Headstart
Kathy Palm, ISD 31
Tom Kusler, Retired ISD 31
Leonore Potter,
Boys and Girls Club

Mick Marino, Evergreen
Gary Russell, Evergreen
Robin Helgager, Civil Air Patrol
Rebecca Snyder, BASC
Chelsea Oldham,
Kraus Anderson
Steve Hanson, Timber Bay


Cassondra Johnson-Blackbird,
Sexual Assault Program
Barb Stensland,
Lutheran Social Services
Jeanne Edevold Larson,
Northern Dental Access Center
Warren Larson, Sanford Health
Linda Yourczek, Beltrami County Health and Human Services
Mary Fairbanks, BSU Dept. of Nursing
Becky Secore, BASC
Rita Baird, North Country Hospice
Deb Miller, Upper Mississippi
Mental Health
Cindi Lee Jernigan,
Northwoods Caregivers
Jill Naylor Yarger, Bemidji Area
Prevention Alliance
Gloria Joy, Bemidji Community
Soup Kitchen
Jim Sutton, RiverWood Bank
Jillian Bakke, Knife River Materials
Aria Trudeau, Family Advocacy Center
Randy McKain, Bemidji Community Food Shelf



John Pugleasa, Beltrami County Health and Human Services
Wendy Noren, Beltrami County Health and Human Services
Wanda Melgaard,
MN Workforce
Geri Hickerson, Northwoods Habitat for Humanity
Rebecca Hoffman, Evergreen
Ruth Sherman,
Community Resource Connections
Jackie Meixner, Headwaters Regional Development Commission