Sandy Rupp's Challenge
With the pool of donations shrinking, though, funding those new priorities would have to come at the expense of existing agencies. "There were knock-down, drag-out fights-people screaming at each other," says a source close to the committee. The needs list was later expanded to include early childhood education and aging in place, and a grant fund was set up to ease the transition for agencies that were shut out.
Under the new system, ten groups gained funding, including Arbor Hospice, Packard Community Clinic, and several agencies that support early childhood education and literacy. The losers included "disease groups" like the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation. More controversially, the new focus on young children meant less for agencies targeting older "youth at risk," including the Washtenaw Camp Placement Association and the Community Action Network, which runs after-school programs for children in low-income housing projects.
"'Youth at risk' has been lost as a priority," lamented CAN executive director Joan Doughty in an op-ed article in the Ann Arbor News last spring. "Youth service providers can no longer 'go at it' alone." CAN subsequently won a reprieve through United Way's grants program--which may be why Doughty now declines to air any grievances with the agency publicly.
Rupp's office on Platt Road has just enough room for her desk and a small round table with four chairs. The few personal touches include a certificate celebrating twenty-five years with United Way (she's now on her thirtieth) and a photo of her Bichon Frisé, Tootsie.