United Way of the Mid-South (UWMS) is interested in catalyzing new, innovative, research-informed and partnership-focused solutions that will improve the lives of Mid-Southerners.

The UWMS Catalyst Fund supports promising strategies for social impact, with priority given to those efforts led by a non-profit agency in collaboration with other non-profits or organizational entities. Funded initiatives will:

  • strategically align investments and efforts;
  • implement successful, promising, and/or innovative solutions in one or more of the areas of education, health improvement or financial stability/poverty reduction; 
  • focus on long-term solutions addressing important community issues.


  • Grants will range from $20,000-$100,000 
  • Grants are for one year and are considered one-time funding
  • Successful initiatives may reapply for continued funding for one additional year


Proposals will be accepted from: 

  • a non-profit, 501(c)(3) entity which will lead the partnership, and take fiscal responsibility for United Way funds
  • organizations and partnerships within the United Way of the Mid-South service area including Fayette, Lauderdale, Tipton, Shelby Counties in TN; Crittenden County, AR; DeSoto, Tate, Tunica Counties in MS


Successful applications will demonstrate: 

  • alignment with UWMS’ mission;
  • focus on a significant problem or opportunity in the region; 
  • significant potential to positively impact the community;
  • capacity and leadership necessary to complete the proposed activity; and
  • a plan for sustainability, where applicable.

Collaborative partnerships will be given priority for funding. Successful collaboratives have developed or will be developing: 

  • a shared vision for change; 
  • a shared measurement system; 
  • a coordinated plan to achieve impact through a collaborative plan of action.

Priority will be given to proposals that are focused on strategies to reduce poverty in the Mid-South.


Letters of Interest will be accepted on August 15 and January 15 and may be sent to:

Diana Bedwell, Director, Community Impact, 

Candidates selected by the Catalyst Fund Committee of the UWMS Board will be invited to submit a full application.

Letters of Interest should be no more than 2 pages and include the following:

  • Purpose of collaborative effort and/or innovative strategy
  • Brief overview of the plan of action which United Way of the Mid-South is being asked to support
  • Specific use of UWMS funds
  • Anticipated outcomes
  • Collaborative members 
  • Signed commitment by the non-profit, 501(c)(3) entity which will take fiscal responsibility for UWMS funds
  • Contact information for primary point person


Agencies seeking new or continued funding through United Way of the Mid-South (United Way) are expected to comply with the following conditions:
  • Be incorporated, not-for-profit, tax exempt under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Service Code, and meet all applicable local, state and federal regulations.
  • Provide health or human services based on documented needs to an identifiable population and/or geographic area within the service area of United Way – specifically Shelby County, Tennessee.
  • Be non-discriminatory and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Have an active, rotating, volunteer leadership that represents diverse elements of the community.
  • Have written policies regarding conflicts of interest for board members and employees.
  • Have sound program and financial management.
  • Apply annually to United Way for funding unless otherwise agreed.
  • Coordinate agency fund raising activities with United Way.
  • Support, cooperate and identify with United Way.