United Power’s Operation Round-Up tops $1 million

Many of Tri-State’s member co-ops actively participate in the Operation Round-Up Foundation, a voluntary program funded by consumers who “round-up” their bills to the next full dollar amount – which is an average donation of 50 cents a month, or about $6 a year. In 2011, United Power (Brighton, Colo.) hit the milestone million-dollar mark, 17 years after first launching the program in support of needy families, individuals and charitable groups in its service territory.

The power of the small change being donated every month by thousands of United’s member-consumers provides a substantial, reliable funding source to help meet some needs of the community. The program is run by a volunteer board of directors which meets each month to consider applications from people through the co-op’s service territory.

“We have seen a real increase in the number of applications we consider every month,” said Mary Macomber, president of the United Power Round-Up Foundation. “We see Round-Up as a safety net for people who may be experiencing hard times because of job loss or illness. Most of the money we grant goes to help members who are experiencing a difficult time, but have the means to eventually become self-supporting again.”

The program has guidelines that limit the lifetime amount families and individuals can receive. It is generally best utilized for one-time assistance, or very limited assistance. The program pays any bills – including mortgages, rent, utilities and other costs that the board carefully considers.

“Payments are always made directly to the provider,” explained Steven Whiteside, treasurer of the foundation. “We are very careful stewards of the money pledged by United Power members. We make payments directly to landlords and service providers. We want to know exactly how the money is being used and be able to verify it was used as intended.”

In 2011, the board saw a substantial increase in the number of applications received from charitable groups in the area. For instance, the board recently approved a grant to fund a summer camp experience for the Brighton Boys and Girls club. These programming dollars offer additional opportunities for the neediest in the community and helps to offset other funding dollars the groups receive.

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