About Community Grant Readers

The Community Grant Reader process is created to expand the diversity of voices in the grantmaking process, increase public awareness of needs and strategies in UMC’s areas of focus, and to actively incorporate community perspectives into UMC’s philanthropy.

UMC takes a human rights approach to poverty reduction and philanthropy. This means that as individuals and as a society, we have an obligation as well as a charitable desire to enable all people to live in a way that supports their human rights and innate dignity. It also means that we are obligated to focus first on those whose needs are greatest.

Our grantmaking is focused on making maximum impact on the communities of Knox and Waldo Counties in our focus areas of Food, Housing, Health and Safety, and Economic Security. Readers consider both how many people are positively affected, and how much they are affected, by a given proposal. UMC prioritizes proposals that make a lasting difference in a social problem in Knox and Waldo counties. We also prioritize applications where the service population is part of program design, implementation and/or leadership.


  1. Any resident of Knox or Waldo counties is encouraged to participate, including nonprofit board, staff and volunteers (including past and current grantees), and those with lived/living experience in our areas of focus.
  2. The grant reader processes takes place entirely online, including reader training. Internet access is required for participation. Grant readers should plan to spend 4-6 hours to complete the entire grant reader process.
  3. Readers are surveyed for conflicts of interest and assigned readings accordingly. As suggested by UMC’s Nonprofit Advisory Council, reading assignments for nonprofit staff, board, and volunteers will exclude applications in their current/past area of focus.
  4. Each reader is assigned three applications. Evaluations are due at the end of April and provided to the Grants Committee.
  5. The Grants committee carefully reviews and discusses all applications and incorporates several layers of review into its recommendations. Administrative review focused on financial information, agency visits made by individual board and committee members, selected agency presentations to the full UMC Board and Grants Committee, and Community Grant Reader evaluations all inform the committee’s final recommendations. The committee’s goal is to identify a broad consensus on priority funding for organizations and programs making the greatest enduring difference in Knox and Waldo counties in UMC’s areas of focus: Food, Housing, Health & Safety, and Economic Security. Final approval of awards is made by the UMC Board of Directors.