THE ORGANIZATION: United Way of Marathon County (UW) has been operating for 93 years. In Marathon County, one-third of the residents, roughly 45,000, are living paycheck to paycheck. The percentage of residents living below the ALICE threshold (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) is even higher in some communities; for example, recent data shows 48% of Wausau households meet these criteria. With an ambitious goal of providing resources and assistance to lift 10,000 Marathon County residents to financial stability by 2033, UW is working to meet their mission, “Uniting to Thrive.”
THE PROJECT & NEED: With the Impact Grant, UW will purchase a vehicle to create a Mobile Closet. Clothing is a basic human need, and a way the world judges a person’s worthiness. Without clean, well-fitting clothing, children may be bullied, and job seekers disqualified for employment. This affects their educational or financial prospects, and their sense of dignity. UW’s existing Community Closet in Wausau distributes career and children’s clothing, as well as steel-toed boots. However, the barriers ALICE households face – including lack of transportation, resources for gas, and time to travel – render the current Community Closets virtually inaccessible to at least 13,000 households county-wide.
The Mobile Closet expands the existing Community Closets and eliminates barriers by transporting clothing to accessible locations throughout the county. The project’s mobility makes it unique, in that it will serve the target populations where they already spend time: rural schools, human services agencies, and workplaces and neighborhoods with high ALICE populations.
HOW WILL IMPACT100 GREATER WAUSAU’S GRANT MONEY BE USED? The Impact100 grant will allow UW to purchase, outfit, and staff the Mobile Closet for two years.
- Purchase of a box truck and needed supplies, shelving, and racking ($48,300)
- A .5FTE staff person to direct Mobile Closet activities ($28,000)
- Gasoline, auto insurance, maintenance, and a commercial vehicle wrap ($12,400)
- Program marketing and promotions ($3,500)
- Clothing inventory to supplement donated items in the case of specific need ($7,800)
The $100,000 grant would be paid in installments over 12-18 months; the truck’s expected lifetime is 10-12 years. UW will identify alternative funding sources if project costs exceed the budgeted amount.
FUTURE EXPECTATIONS/SUSTAINABILITY: The program’s sustainability is integral to UW’s goal of lifting 10,000 community members to financial stability. The Mobile Closet will:
- Provide clothing to 2,500 community members, measured with an intake form.
- Visit each school district in the county as part of a new back-to-school program.
- Visit at least 4 locations outside of the Wausau-metro area during the first service year.
Existing and new donations, corporate sponsorships, and other grant funding for clothing and steel-toed boots will ensure adequate Mobile Closet inventory.
FROM THE GRANT COMMITTEE: Clothing is a Human Right! The Mobile Closet will give Marathon County residents – rural, urban, young, old, all in need – access to quality clothing that will allow them to live healthier and fuller lives. The vehicle purchased with our grant will make a sustained, lasting impact!