Funded Agencies


We walk hand in hand with other agencies that are the subject matter experts in their field of helping vulnerable youth. We help fund them so they can continue to make a difference in the lives of youth. Together we are making significant strides in creating stronger youth, a stronger community, and a stronger society.

Funded Nonprofits / Agencies for 2019-2020

Sherburne County Area United Way (SCAUW) impacts the lives of vulnerable youth by focusing on:

  • Education - Working to end America's education crisis

  • Income - Promoting financial stability and independence

  • Health - Improving health and changing lives

We are truly humbled by the amazing work these organizations are doing. We are grateful to be a part of their journey to strengthening and empowering vulnerable youth in each of their own unique ways.



Today in Minnesota there are only 39 affordable homes to every 100 extremely low-income families (National Low-Income Housing Coalition). Aeon is combatting this by creating 54 affordable apartments for low-income families in Big Lake with help from funding by Sherburne County Area United Way. A stable home enables success across all areas of the lives of residents: a sense of pride, feeling of belonging, strong connections to others, and personal accountability, helping to build a stronger community.

Anna Marie’s Alliance: Children's Program

Anna Marie’s Alliance is making a huge impact in lives of children that have witnessed domestic abuse. According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, 75% of boys that witnessed their mothers being abused become abusers themselves, while girls are more likely to become victims of dating violence. With help from Sherburne County Area United Way, Anna Marie’s Alliance is working to break the cycle and allow these children to have a chance of being successful through assessments and interventions.

Big Lake Community Food Shelf: Kid's Programs

Funding from Sherburne County Area United Way has helped the continuation of two successful kid's programs at the Big lake Community Food Shelf.

  1. Summer Kid's Bags: The Big Lake Community Food Shelf provides bags of healthy snacks and easy-to-make food to children of families in need once a month during the summer. The bags of food not only nourish the children for the time being, but also impact the quality of food they receive by including store vouchers for more nutritional food.​

  2. Cooking Matters classes: The Big lake Community Food Shelf has teamed up with the University of MN Extension to create cooking classes for kids to learn about healthy eating and nutrition by preparing healthy meals. They cook, eat, and are provided the ingredients to make the meals again at home. The classes are offered twice a month for the summer months. The program has been so successful they have had a waiting list for the past few years.

Boys and Girls Club of Elk River

Research shows students do much better in school when they spend their non-school hours engaged in fun but academically beneficial activities. The Boys and Girls Club is committed to ending the dropout crisis by promoting learning and setting a high value on education. Funding from Sherburne County United Way has enabled them to continue to educate through programs such as Project Learn, Money Matters, and Healthy Habits. Of the youth participating in the program, 90% have graduated from high school or obtained a GED.  

CAER: Kidz Kits

The Kidz Kits program is focused on providing school-aged children that depend on the free or reduced lunch program during the school year to continue to receive lunch during the summer months as well. The nutritious food that Sherburne County Area United Way helps fund is provided weekly for the 12-week summer break to the vulnerable youth in Elk River, Otsego, and Zimmerman.

Catholic Charities: Elk River Day Treatment Center

The Elk River Day Treatment is a community-based educational alternative offering academic, therapeutic, and skills training to at-risk youth in grades 1-12. The treatment is for youth who are experiencing ongoing and extensive emotional and behavioral difficulties that need more than traditional services can provide. With help from Sherburne County Area United Way, the Elk River Day Treatment Center will be able to remodel the  Sensory Room, which is a vital part of the treatment process.


Catholic Charities: Foster Grandparent Program

According to results of the MN Standards MCA III Reading Assessment of 2016, less than half of MN 3rd graders do not reach the benchmark for reading standards, a predictor for future academic and life success. That is why Sherburne County Area United Way helps fund the Foster Grandparent Program. The Foster Grandparents mentor and tutor children in literacy. This gives the children a positive role model and one-on-one support as well as giving the Foster Grandparents a sense of purpose and supports the health of older adults. 


A first grader told Grandma Jan that “everyone wants to be your friend”.  Jan has found that to be true during her time as a Foster Grandparent. “I didn’t think I would last 2 weeks and now I am celebrating 10 years”.

Catholic Charities: Services for Homeless Youth (SHY) program

With help from funding from Sherburne County United Way,the Services for Homeless Youth program  strives to keep youth off the streets by providing safe and affordable housing, help the participants complete their high school education as well as offering housing counseling and financial assistance. The program helps the youth obtain employment and vital documents needed for sustainability of independence.

Central MN Sexual Assault Center​: Not A Number program

Not a #Number is an interactive, five-session prevention curriculum designed to teach youth ages 12-18 how to protect themselves from human trafficking and exploitation. The program teaches the youth critical thinking and skill development. Not a #Number focuses on respect, empathy, individual strengths, and the relationship between personal and societal pressures that create or increase vulnerabilities. Through funding from Sherburne County Area United Way, CMSA is training additional facilitators to be able to expand the program in our area.

Elk River ECFE: Parenting Programs

Funding from Sherburne County Area United Way has allowed the continuation of two successful parenting programs through Elk River ECFE:

  1. Parenting Solo Program: A one-night networking opportunity for single parents and their children to get together to teach their children lessons in the positive self-esteem, handling emotions, coping with stress and conflict, and building positive relationships.

  2. Young Parent Program: A weekly meeting  with a licensed Parent Educator, teaching developmentally appropriate.


Girl Scouts of MN and WI Lakes and Pines

Girl Scouts’ Research Institute found two-thirds of girls see themselves as leaders, yet only one in five believes she has what it takes. 41% of girls are uncomfortable speaking to a group, and 39% have been put down by peers when attempting to lead. With funding from Sherburne County Area United Way, Girls Scouts are able to provide a safe space to develop and foster positive interactions. The Girl Scout program highlights five outcomes that lead to building successful girl leaders in our communities:  Sense of Self, Positive Values, Challenge Seeking, Healthy Relationships, and Community Problem Solving.

Great River Family Promise

In the last five and a half years, GRFP has been able to provide more than 60 families (with a combined total of 150 children) experiencing homelessness the opportunity to achieve housing stability by providing short term shelter, food, case management and hospitality utilizing local resources. The success of GRFP has been through funding from organizations such as Sherburne County Area United Way and partnerships with 13 local churches who provide overnight shelter and three meals a day to the guests. GRFP works closely with the social service agencies in the surrounding communities, and a team of volunteers keeps the organization running 24/7/365.The program also follows the families for one year after leaving to ensure they remain stable in their housing.


Open Doors for Youth

Open Doors for Youth serves youth ages 16-23 who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability. On any given night in MN, according to the 2015 Wilder survey, there are over 6,000 unaccompanied homeless youth. Aging out of foster care, fleeing abuse, poverty, drug addiction, mental illness of family members or lack of acceptance after a youth identifies as LGBTQ, are some of the many reasons for youth homelessness. These young people find themselves alone and vulnerable, lacking what is necessary to thrive. Sherburne County Area United Way helps Open Doors for Youth provide basic personal needs and connections in the community.


Pearl Crisis Center: Safe Dates

The rate of teen dating violence in our service area continues to climb. Unfortunately, teen dating violence, bullying, child abuse and exposure to domestic violence are often overlooked due to confidentiality laws and underreporting of victims. Pearl Crisis Center, with help from funding from Sherburne County Area United Way, provides schools with a Safe Dates Curriculum to empower victims to come forth, receive help, identify red flags and learn what a healthy relationship is. They can learn to help others and know that they have a voice in their healing process.

Princeton ISD 477: Early Childhood Mental Health Services

In Princeton Early Childhood, more and more children are experiencing mental health issues that impact their ability to self-regulate and attend typical early childhood classroom experiences. This need to attend special programming can be a costly, cumbersome, and confusing process. Sherburne County Area United Way helps provide financial support to Princeton ISD 477 to help these families attend these needs programs at no cost to the families. The students are able to receive academic and social emotional education to allow them to be ready to start their kindergarten year with knowledge and a sense of confidence.

Rivers of Hope: School Based Youth Advocacy

The National Survey on Children’s Exposure to Violence, found that 1 in 9 children were exposed to some form of family violence in the past year. The Youth Advocacy program, with funding from Sherburne County Area United Way, provides a safe and supportive space for students to talk about what is happening to them, learn healthy coping skills, and reduce the impact of negative consequences associated with exposure to violence. The services are available during the day and also on the 24 hour helpline.


ServeMN: Minnesota Math Corps

Doing well in math during the late elementary and middle school years (the transition from basic arithmetic to more complex, problem solving) is critical in contributing to a student’s long-term academic success (Siegler et al., 2012). 90% of students who don’t pass 6th grade math, don’t earn their high school diploma (Balfanz, 2007). Currently, one in three 8th graders in Big Lake, Princeton, and Elk River school districts are not meeting the math milestones (MDE, 2018). Math Crops targets those students that are more likely to slip through the cracks: those who score below proficient on state tests but don’t qualify for more intensive services. With the help from Sherburne County Area United Way, the program is offered free of charge to all students, ensuring those from low-income families (who are typically underrepresented in advanced mathematics and STEM fields) can have access to this proven program.


Spectrum High School

Without the Sherburne County Area United Way grant, Spectrum High School would not be able to provide the opportunity for the student body to attend various field trips that are integral to the service learning program. As part of our service learning program students take the time research community based issues, develop a plan of action related to their planned experience in the field, and follow through in a purposeful manner. The goal of the service learning program is to develop and sustain strong relationships with community organizations and provide appropriate educational experiences that can help the students realize the power of serving others. These service learning field trips have become a tradition at Spectrum and students look forward to them each year.

Thumbs Up High 5K:Project Cheer Bags

Since inception in 2014, Thumbs Up High 5K has strived to encourage people to talk about their mental health. Educators are witnessing more and more anxiety and depression in young children including middle school and high school. Schools are not equipped and do not have the budget to allow for extra help with dealing with increasing mental health issues. Thumbs Up High, with the help of funding from Sherburne County Area United Way, has partnered with Elk River school district to incorporate wellness champions and cheer bags into each school. The wellness champion provides resources to the teachers as well as bins of fun activities for the children to participate in such as yoga mats, stress balls, and games. The cheer bags are filled with inspirational support such as a journal, pens, books, resource brochures, gum, socks, and stress ball. They are supplied to school social workers to give to students that are emotionally struggling.

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