United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Ohio and Goodwill Columbus have signed a merger agreement.

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Ohio and Goodwill Columbus have signed a merger agreement.

The partnership will mean that the more than 75 participants in UCP's program will transfer to Goodwill Columbus programs and services.

The transition will begin Jan. 3.

"Over the last three to five years, we've watched as some of our funding sources dwindled," UCP executive director Kathy Streblo said. "With the economy, these are difficult times for nonprofit agencies."

The UCP board of directors became increasingly concerned about the agency's ability to continue to provide its clients with the same level of services in the coming years, Streblo said.

"Instead of trying to ride things out, we decided to be proactive" and seek a partnership with another agency, she said.

Goodwill Columbus is an ideal partner "because their mission and goals align so well with ours," Streblo said. "They serve the same population that we serve."

Both agencies work to help people with disabilities become more independent and productive members of the community, she said.

A number of UCP staff members will ultimately transfer to Goodwill, said Goodwill Columbus president and CEO Margie Pizzuti.

"That's something we will be working on over the coming months," she said.

Some UCP clients will continue to attend programs and services at UCP's facility during the transitional phase, Pizzuti said.

Goodwill has the capacity to handle the additional clients at its Edgehill Road building and staff members have begun planning for the increased number of clients the merger will bring, she said.

To help with the transition, UCP has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Columbus Foundation's Fund for Financial Restructuring and Goodwill Columbus received a $15,000 Capacity Building grant from United Way of Central Ohio.

The merging of nonprofit agencies with similar missions is becoming increasingly common as funding resources become scarcer, Pizzuti said.

"Our agreement is UCP is really a win-win situation," she said. "It's going to ensure the participants in UCP's program continue to get the highest quality service."

"That's what it's all about, ultimately," Streblo said. "Our board was not interested in trying to hang on and risk the quality of programs and services for our clients."