United Way of Snohomish County offering $51,000 in grants to support financial education; application deadline is Jan. 17


(Everett, WA) – United Way of Snohomish County is offering $51,000 to support financial education and financial coaching serving low- or moderate-income individuals and families. Grants may be used to support classroom instruction, one-on-one counseling or a combination.

“Financial stability is the cornerstone of a healthy community,” said Dennis G. Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County. “These grants will help provide families in our community much needed access to financial education and counseling.”

Programs could include money management, savings, budgeting, avoiding fraud, credit management or other financial topics relevant to low-and-moderate-income families. Funds may be used to support or expand financial asset building services or to develop a new financial education offering.

The maximum award for a grant is $15,000. Organizations currently receiving United Way multi-year program grants are eligible for funding, including programs presently funded. For programs currently receiving a multi-year program grant, funds must be used to either expand or enhance impact.

The grant application and instructions can be found on United Way’s website at http://www.uwsc.org/financialeducationgrants.php.

For more information, please contact Lark Kesterke at lark.kesterke@uwsc.org or 425.374.5506.

Two years ago, eight groups received a total of $40,000 in financial education grants from United Way. Both that round of funding and this one were made possible through a grant from The Boeing Company to United Way.

Free tax preparation, encouraging people to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds and other financial education programs, in addition to these grants, are part of United Way’s overall effort to help Snohomish County families achieve and maintain financial stability.

Hundreds turn out for Days of Caring

Volunteer Heather Hopingardner mows overgrown grass at the All-Breed Equine Rez-Q for United Way of Snohomish County’s annual Day of Caring.— image credit: Lauren Salcedo

Volunteer Heather Hopingardner mows overgrown grass at the All-Breed Equine Rez-Q for United Way of Snohomish County’s annual Day of Caring.
— image credit: Lauren Salcedo

By Lauren Salcedo, The Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — More than 800 volunteers spent their weekends painting fences, cleaning schools, picking up litter and more as part of United Way of Snohomish County’s 20th annual Days of Caring efforts on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14.

In the Marysville and Tulalip areas, volunteers from across Snohomish County visited the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club, All-Breed Equine Rez-Q and Pinewood Elementary to give back to their community by spending two days taking care of much-needed maintenance.

“We found out two weeks ago that we had been chosen for this day of service,” said Dale Squeglia, director of the All-Breed Equine Rez-Q in Tulalip. “It was a surprise. A very nice surprise. United Way is here mowing the lawn, weed-whacking and painting everything. It’s just amazing.”

The All-Breed Equine Rez-Q is a nonprofit that rescues horses from abusive or neglectful situations, and either keeps them on their property to live out their days or looks for appropriate places to re-home them. On Friday, Sept. 13, employees of Crane Aerospace in Lynnwood helped complete yard work, and prepared the rescue’s fences and barns for painting on Saturday, Sept. 14,  by Snohomish County Public Utility District employees.

“United Way is already a supporter of us financially and helps us out,” said Squeglia. “This is the first time we’ve had them actually come out and physically help us, so we are very excited.”

Volunteer Sharon Peck was responsible for filling out the application to participate in the Days of Caring.

“We have two armies of people coming out to work all day, both days,” said Peck. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the people of the community to become aware of our needs, and also to have someone do the work that we don’t have the volunteers to do on a regular basis, and they get to spend a day working outside. Our project was called ‘Four Legs and Two Big Brown Eyes: Helping Snohomish County Horses.’ Nobody could resist that.”

At Pinewood Elementary, representatives from Union Bank and the The Daily Herald newspaper volunteered to sweep the grounds, clean-up flower beds and gardens, pressure-wash playground equipment and pick up litter.

“We all know funds are being cut, and so we are here helping the kids,” said Tiffany Lock-Osterberg of Union Bank, who noted that her company participated in the Days of Caring at Pinewood last year. “We painted the hopscotch areas, helped clean up graffiti and painted a mural. Last year, the kids came out and said, ‘Thank you,’ and even helped out. They did that again this year and that’s really great to see.”

Marysville mayor Jon Nehring visited Pinewood Elementary on Friday, Sept. 13, along with United Way of Snohomish County Vice President Karen Crowley.

“A big part of Marysville is the volunteers,” said Nehring. “As mayor, that means a lot to me, especially to see them out here helping our schools. As a campaign chair for United Way, this is a great way to show what United Way is all about. I don’t think there is any other day of the year that is like this. There are 800 volunteers out in Snohomish County right now. It’s truly amazing to see all the work they are doing.”

Crowley said that the volunteer efforts at Pinewood Elementary specifically helped improve morale at the school.

“We had three companies volunteer here last year, and Union Bank was one of them so it is great to see them back again,” said Crowley. “What touched us is that it seemed that they felt they hadn’t been paid attention to. Last year, students put signs together saying, ‘Thank you,’ and you got a sense of real appreciation from them. There was a mural painted with kids and volunteers, and I remember chatting with a mom who was in tears and she said, ‘We thought our kids were forgotten.’ It was really powerful.”

In Snohomish County, 73 teams participated in 41 projects benefiting 30 different agencies as a part of the annual Days of Caring.

“That’s a total of 3,746 hours, which at the standard economic value for volunteer time — $22.69 per hour — would come up to $85,000,” said Neil Parekh, vice president of marketing and communications for United Way of Snohomish County.

For more information on United Way, and volunteer opportunities in Snohomish County, visit www.uwsc.org.


Free, online tax preparation for Snohomish County households

Sara Haner, Communications Manager, United Way of Snohomish County
(Everett, WA) – Looking for free tax preparation online? The Walmart Foundation has joined with United Way Worldwide, Goodwill Industries International and National Disability Institute to launch MyFreeTaxes online, offering free federal and state tax preparation and filing services to eligible Snohomish County households. The MyFreeTaxes partnership also supports free tax preparation in-person at several sites throughout Snohomish County.
Eligible taxpayers in Snohomish County can access MyFreeTaxes filing services by:
      Visiting http://www.myfreetaxes.com/everett:  (Open to households earning less than $57,000 annually.)
      Calling 2-1-1 or visiting http://www.uwsc.org/freetaxpreparationcampaign.php to locate a free tax site near them that provides volunteer assisted preparation and filing. (Open to households earning less than $51,000 annually.)
The MyFreeTaxes tax filing software is provided by H&R Block®, and along with in-person free tax preparation programs, is expected to help return an estimated $1.95 billion this year in total tax refunds, credits and tax preparation fee savings to eligible taxpayers. Since 2009, MyFreeTaxes has helped more than 4.5 million families file free tax returns, resulting in nearly $6 billion in federal income tax refunds, nearly $1.5 billion in Earned Income Tax Credits and more than $913 million in tax preparer fee savings. MyFreeTaxes has also helped more than 610,000 taxpayers with disabilities file their returns.
“United Way of Snohomish County is excited to be part of the national MyFreeTaxes Partnership for the fourth year. Working together, we help eligible Snohomish County residents access free tax preparation and filing services, keeping more of their hard-earned money in their pockets,” said Ian Nelson, Tax Campaign Coordinator for United Way of Snohomish County.
For additional information and eligibility requirements, visit www.myfreetaxes.com/everett or call 1-855-MyTx-Help.
About MyFreeTaxes
The MyFreeTaxes Partnership provides free federal and state tax preparation and filing assistance for qualified individuals. It’s easy, safe, secure and 100 percent free. Powered by Walmart – in cooperation with Goodwill Industries International, National Disability Institute and United Way Worldwide – the MyFreeTaxes Partnership’s online and in-person tax preparation and filing services have helped 4.5 million families claim nearly $6 billion in tax credits and refunds since 2009. Tax filing software provided by H&R Block.  For more information, visit MyFreeTaxes.com or call 1-855-My-Tx-Help.

About United Way of Snohomish County
United Way is a community impact organization serving Snohomish County for more than 70 years. In addition to funding 102 programs through 39 agencies with a special focus on local health and human services, United Way of Snohomish County supports a number of initiatives focusing on early learning and education, financial stability for families, a youth program, North Sound 211 and an emerging initiative in survival English.
To find out more about United Way of Snohomish County, including how you can find help, how to volunteer and how United Way serves our community, please visit our website at uwsc.org.