United Way Invests in Health and Wellbeing

United Way of 1000 Lakes takes a holistic approach to improving the wellbeing of families and individuals in the Itasca area, recognizing that overlapping factors such as income, educational background, and access to care can affect a person’s wellbeing in the long term.

Each year, United Way provides funding to more than 20 programs and initiatives that are working to make a difference in the lives of children and adults throughout the greater Itasca area. Whether directly or indirectly, many of these programs address the health of those in the region in some form. 

One of United Way’s partners is Project Care, which provides free medical care to un- and under-insured patients, helping families who have a hard time affording often-expensive check-ups, prescriptions, and treatments. During the pandemic, Project Care responded to the effects of stress and isolation by taking a comprehensive approach to treatment, providing long-term mental healthcare to patients.

ElderCircle is another of United Way’s funded partners. ElderCircle’s programming takes a multifaceted approach to improving the lives of older adults in the region. From providing assistance with day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping to connecting clients to volunteer and community engagement opportunities, the organization helps make it possible for aging individuals to live fulfilling, emotionally-healthy lives. 

Project Care works with volunteer medical providers like Janis Johnson, a pharmacist, who provide care to un- and under-insured patients.

In the past year alone, United Way allocated more than $166,000 into the Itasca area’s nonprofit network that helps families and individuals meet their basic needs, achieve financial stability and independence, reach educational goals, and live healthy lives.

Grantees include: 

Advocates for Family Peace

Bigfork Food Shelf

Boys & Girls Club of the Northland (Grand Rapids & Greenway chapters)

Boys and Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area (Deer River chapter)

Deer River Food Shelf


First Call 2-1-1

Grace House

Itasca County Family YMCA

Itasca County Habitat for Humanity

Itasca County Wellness Court

KOOTASCA Community Action

Minnesota Alliance With Youth (Greenway Promise Fellow)

Project Care

Project READ

Support Within Reach

Youth for Christ Campus Life (Deer River, Grand Rapids, and Greenway programs)

In addition, United Way manages several programs and initiatives that impact local lives, including Bonfire, the region’s online volunteer portal, the annual Stuff the Bus School Supplies Drive, and the 5-2-1-0 PlayStation program. 

After extending its funding cycle for a year due to the COVID-pandemic, United Way is prepared to embark on its new impact strategy, devised after undergoing a Community Needs Assessment. This new strategy, to be discussed further in the coming weeks, takes a two-generation approach toward boosting upward mobility with the aim of achieving sustainable, long-term change for families in the Northland. 

To learn more about United Way’s work, impact strategy, and how you can get involved, visit uwlakes.org.