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Quad City agencies scramble for funding after United Way cuts

DAVENPORT -

After serving the community since 1896, Friendly House must find new ways to survive. That's after United Way cut its yearly funding from nearly $160,000 to just $2,000.

"To see us stand beside some very wonderful partner agencies like the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, CADS and CASI, that sends a pretty strong message to the community that things as we know it are going to change," said Friendly House Executive Director Lorelei Pfautz, on Friday, May 12.

United Way supported Friendly House for decades.  Still, a funding formula change to emphasize results shut out Friendly House and other key agencies.

"We've been in constant communication with these folks to say, here's the direction our community has asked us to go," said Jennifer Walker, vice president of marketing, United Way.

"We believe we have demonstrated results," Pfautz countered. "We are effective in what we do."

Under its new directive, United Way will provide nearly $500,000 to public school districts in Illinois and Iowa. That forces Friendly House and others to regroup.

"Things like making sure kids are ready for kindergarten, that they stay in school and perform at grade level, that they graduate, these are things that our community has said are a priority," Walker said.

Friendly House, with its 26 employees, could suffer without new funding sources.  United Way funding typically made up about 12% of its budget.

"This isn't a short-term issue for us," Pfautz continued.  "This is a long-term issue because we got funding for many years, so we have to find a long-term solution for this."

Friendly House will turn down United Way's $2,000 contribution in order to seek out other donors.  The agency expects to search for six to 12 months before considering drastic cuts to its programs and services.

"We've been here for 121 years," Pfautz concluded.  "Our message to the community is: you're not alone in your struggle."