Donations to UW down, needs in Oxford remain high

Published 10:00 am Friday, March 29, 2024

By Cody Farris and Meredith Lejcar

Ole Miss Journalism Students



There is a growing concern as donations to the United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County have consistently declined, impacting local programs, many of which support area children.

The Leap Frog Program, a nonprofit literacy initiative in Oxford, is one of those programs feeling the pinch. The program is dedicated to helping students improve their reading skills, which is crucial for passing the state-mandated reading test in third grade, which is a requirement for advancing to the next grade level.

“The biggest thing we are trying to help is for them to pass their reading test in third grade. You have to pass that on the state level to move on to fourth grade,” said Whitney Sweeney, the director of Leap Frog.

According to Kurt Brummett, director of United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County, the decline in donations is partly attributed to a change in tax law.

“It doubled the standard deduction,” Brummett said, adding that some people who used to itemize their taxes and use donations to offset what they owed the government stopped doing that. “With many people just using the standard deduction that kind of disincentivizes giving.”

But Sweeney said there should still be plenty of incentive to give. She shared the story of a student who initially resisted reading because he said he was going to play sports.

“And he was super athletic, but one day, you just saw it click — the reading, all the phonics went together, and he passed his reading test and his mom called. He was so excited,” Sweeney said.

The United Way of Oxford-Lafayette is currently in its 2023-2024 campaign, emphasizing the critical nature of community contributions to sustain and enhance local initiatives, such as Leap Frog and others, aimed at education, health, basic needs, and financial stability.

To donate, you can go online to, use Venmo (@UWOxfordMS) or mail or deliver your donation to United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County 440 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 5, Oxford, MS 38655.