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BLOOMINGTON — Three agencies that won't receive United Way of McLean County money after its annual fundraising campaign fell short are determining whether they can continue certain programs for at-risk youths.

"We have a commitment to serve these kids," said George Clay, scout executive of the W.D. Boyce Council of Boy Scouts of America. "We need to figure out how to do that."

"Can the program continue without United Way funding?" asked Pam Kovacevich, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Illinois. "If so, how? We don't know the answers to those questions yet. But we do not want girls to be out a Girl Scout experience because of a lack of resources."

United Way on May 6 made its funding decisions for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Sixty-four programs operated by 30 agencies will receive money.

But because the annual fundraising campaign that ended earlier this year raised $3.5 million — compared with $4.2 million the year before — most of the programs received less funding than last year. The following programs, all at agencies with longtime partnerships with United Way, will receive no money: Bloomington-Normal YMCA's Y-FI (Youth Fitness Intervention), $70,560 last year; Boy Scouts' Life Skills 101 or Scout Reach, $41,680 last year; and Girl Scouts' Leadership Experience Outreach, $24,709 last year.

YMCA Executive Director B.J. Wilken said after the United Way decision that the Y was "deeply troubled at this news" because Y-FI uses evidence-based practices to help medically challenged children to combat obesity.

"We were caught off-guard," Clay said Monday after learning there is no United Way funding appeals process. "We were expecting — with a down campaign — to be cut but we didn't expect all (program) funding to end."

"We were shocked and disappointed," Kovacevich said.

United Way determines funding based on agencies' program applications and how they address community needs, using measurable results.

"We were told that our score was below the threshold they established to fund programs," Clay said.

Life Skills 101 gives at-risk boys help with healthy lifestyles, decision-making skills, drug awareness and budgeting, Clay said. In McLean County, 624 boys were served in the fiscal year ending June 30.

Leadership Experience Outreach provides underserved girls who don't have access to a Girl Scouts' troop with anti-bullying, self-esteem, financial literacy, healthy living, environmental stewardship and character-building help. In the last fiscal year, 550 girls were served.

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Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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