Joanne Jan ’13 is thrilled to be participating in her second summer as an Upstate Institute Summer Field School Fellow. The Psychology and Classics major sees herself working in the non-profit field, which is why her placement at the Chenango United Way in Norwich this summer is a perfect fit. The Chenango United Way’s mission states that it “builds partnerships and maximizes resources to improve the quality of life for local residents.” Every year, the organization raises nearly $500,000 to allocate to a diverse array of county-wide agencies. Agencies that receive funding at the local level reflect the United Way of America’s national focus on income, health, and education. The two projects Joanne is working on aim to uphold this mission and ensure these allocations are being utilized properly.
Joanne’s two projects involve research and nearly two dozen site visits. She is currently researching the Theory of Change model in order to propose ways in which the Chenango United Way can implement this model to ensure that their yearly allocations are being maximized to their full potential. Joanne also aims “to help the United Way grow and to improve their outcome measurement system” through this research.
Her second project involves site visits with the mid-year site visit committee to the 21 organizations to which the Chenango United Way distributed money this year. These visits give the organization’s staff and board members a sense of recipients’ programs and the challenges they faced in the past year. The visits also help determine whether the organizations will receive an allotment the following year. Since one of the Chenango United Way’s main priorities is accountability, each of these visits is crucial in identifying to donors ways in which money has been spent, as well as how these contributions are inciting change in the community. Joanne says that “by organizing and going on each mid-year site visit, I can add consistency to each visit and report back to the United Way about each program’s successes and concerns,” illustrating one of her larger goals for the summer.
Joanne also hopes to learn more about non-profits through her placement since the Chenango United Way funds such a diverse group of non-profits. She finds it interesting “how this organization identifies the needs of its community and sets out to address those needs to become a stronger community.” Joanne also feels that the Friday Field School has exposed her to the histories of Hamilton and Madison County that were unfamiliar to her previously. There’s no doubt that her genuine commitment to these projects and growing knowledge of Central New York will help the Chenango United Way experience continued success this summer.