United Way aims to raise extra $1 million in Tri-Cities

United Way officials are upping the ante for their annual fundraising drive this year in anticipation of a rising tide of Tri-Citians in need.

The agency kicked off its campaign Tuesday with a goal to raise $4.7 million during this year's campaign -- $1 million more than the agency distributed to area nonprofits from its 2010 campaign.

The higher goal is being driven in part by significant layoffs announced at Hanford.

At the same time, state money has been cut for many social service agencies that are struggling to meet the demand for services, such as food and housing assistance, and health care for the uninsured.

Money raised by United Way goes primarily toward programs meeting the priorities set by Community Solutions, a regional health and human services plan targeting better outcomes in education, health, safety and self-sufficiency.

The agency distributes money each spring to nonprofits for funding for projects that meet the Community Solutions goals.

Of the money raised during 2010, about $1.8 million went to agencies awarded money from Community Solutions.

Among the top funding recipients were Grace Clinic, for programs providing health care access to the uninsured, preventing diabetic complications for the uninsured and increasing access to social services and counseling; Catholic Family & Child Service for child abuse prevention and other services; Columbia Industries, for job training for people with disabilities; Senior Life Resources Northwest, for the Tri-City Meals on Wheels program; and The Arc of Tri-Cities, for programs for people with developmental disabilities.

United Way donors also can designate which agency their money will support, and almost $1.3 million was paid out through donor designations to agencies from the 2010 campaign.

About $648,000 went toward United Way administration.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543;