At United Way of Story County, we believe that when we are United together, we can find solutions that make long-lasting, positive change in the lives of individuals and families, which is why our 2017 LIVE UNITED campaign theme is United Together. Finding Solutions, Changing Lives. We do this because every person in our community has a right to have a good quality of life.


This week, we are sharing how we are Finding Solutions through the ASSET (Analysis of Social Services Evaluation Team) process. ASSET has existed in Story County since 1985. It brings together five major funders of human services programs in a collaborative, volunteer-led effort to coordinate local planning, assess needs, evaluate the capabilities of agencies to provide programs, and recommend funding for programs.


There are 20 volunteers that represent the five major funders of human service programs — Central Iowa Community Services, city of Ames, Iowa State University Student Government, Story County and United Way of Story County. The volunteers are assigned to a panel that falls into a category under education, income or health and do an in-depth dive into the programs within that area. Each volunteer is assigned one or more agencies for which they are responsible to learn more about by understanding its mission and focus, the needs they are addressing in programs and the pressing issues that have been identified.


Agencies who wish to receive ASSET funding are required to submit a budget application for each program they request funding for. As part of the application, they report on the outcomes for that program. Going forward, this will include the Clear Impact Scorecard results that we explained in last week’s column. This type of reporting helps ASSET better understand how to invest dollars.


Once agencies have been awarded funding, they are responsible for keeping the ASSET volunteers apprised of any unanticipated or emerging needs that may come up throughout the year. This ensures that there are no surprises to the ASSET team when it comes to the next year’s budget.


In an effort to stay in regular communication with agencies and have a better understanding of human service needs, the staff members that serve on ASSET are involved in various collaborations throughout the year. These collaborations include Transportation Collaboration, Story County Reads, Story County Quality of Life Alliance, Story County Mental Health Task Force and more. These groups include community volunteers and human service representatives that are focused on coming together for group problem solving, decision making, and taking action that will create lasting change.


The ASSET process is unique to Story County. Having a collaborative process for investing private and public dollars helps keep us focused on addressing solutions to the problems many of our friends, family and neighbors face daily. Collectively we can, and do so much more.


Next week, we will share how we are Finding Solutions to national issues on a local level.


To learn more about UWSC’s funding in local programs, visit www.uwstory.org or call 515-268-5142.