United Way’s COVID-19 Impact

Before the new coronavirus (COVID-19) hit our region, 44 percent of Southeastern Michigan households were already struggling to meet their basic needs like food, housing and health care. According to United Way’s ALICE report, these households were only one bad day away from financial struggle.  

Now, these families — and many more — are in crisis.  

United Way is working with hundreds of partners to give these families the support they need to weather this crisis and reach stability, as well as to ensure they can help their children thrive and learn.

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Since mid-March, United Way has dedicated itself to providing immediate and crucial support to Southeastern Michigan organizations, nonprofits, schools and child care facilities. With the support of dozens of corporate and foundation partners, as well as individuals, we launched the COVID-19 Community Response Fund to aid in front-line efforts to support families affected by this crisis. 

United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline has served as a go-to service for people looking for help and information, whether that’s assistance with filing for unemployment, accessing food or housing support, or finding a way to volunteer or donate funds or supplies.

United, we are combatting the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school and business shutdowns.

Read on to learn more about how—with our supporters, partners and volunteers—we’re helping our region respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. 


United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund launched March 16 to address the emergency needs of community organizations working to help individuals and families in Southeastern Michigan meet their basic needs. 

The fund has since expanded to support at-home education efforts and necessary technology for students, child care facilities serving essential workers, and grassroots efforts to keep the public informed, safe and cared for. It also supports one-time microgrants for individuals facing extreme hardship who do not qualify for unemployment assistance.

Dozens of corporate and foundation partners, individual and family gifts, and individual and business fundraisers have raised more than $33 million for the COVID-19 fund. This includes $10 million from Oakland County executive and board of commissioners to support the creation of the Oakland Together Community Response and Recovery Fund. This fund supports nonprofits serving residents of the county.

As of the end of July, United Way had awarded about 600 grants to local organizations, schools and groups.

Explore the map below to see how United Way’s COVID-19 fund is making an impact in our region. 


United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline provides Michiganders with free, confidential connections to resources. It’s available every hour of every day of the year. 

United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s 2-1-1 call center is the largest in the state. It covers Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Monroe and Washtenaw counties.

When the COVID-19 outbreak began in Michigan, calls to 2-1-1 jumped from an average of 500 per day to 750. In March of 2019, our 2-1-1 team handled 9,162 calls. In March 2020, contacts topped 19,000.

Explore the map below to see how 2-1-1 is serving a critical need for families in crisis, and visit the Michigan 2-1-1 COVID-19 Dashboard to see United Way’s impact across the state. 


Through our Seasons of Caring initiative, sponsored by Penske Corp., United Way has worked to increase year-round volunteerism in our community.

United Way and our partners were forced to cancel many volunteer projects as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. But the need for volunteer support has not stopped.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March, Michiganders have used United Way’s volunteer portal to find ways to help those most in need—packing and delivering food to seniors, virtually tutoring students, giving blood and donating supplies.

And as calls have skyrocketed, United Way staff and employees from several of our corporate partners have stepped up to provide critical volunteer support to our 2-1-1 call center.

Explore the map below to see how volunteers are making a difference, then sign up to volunteer. 


As the spread of COVID-19 forced United Way and our partners to find new ways to continue to help our community’s most vulnerable families, we also recognized a great need to protect the people doing that critical work.

Like the doctors, nurses and essential employees on the front lines of supporting the community, child care providers and nonprofit workers deserve to know that when they go to work, they can stay safe. But in the midst of the crisis, many of them had difficulty obtaining and affording personal protection equipment.

United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund helped ensure that those who care for our most vulnerable community members had the protection they need. With donor support, we were able to provide thousands of masks, glovessanitizer and other supports to individuals working at child care facilities serving the families of essential workers, as well as nonprofit organizations and schools helping people meet their basic needs. 

Explore the map below to see how these efforts supported organizations and care providers in our community.


Since the launch of United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, nearly 600 of our partners have worked diligently to meet the most immediate needs of individuals, children and families in southeastern Michigan.

Our partners have worked to connect people with critical information and resources, supplied meals and food packages, helped people meet their physical and mental health needs, supported students in need of technical and educational assistance, and so much more.

Use the dashboard below to see how many lives our partners have impacted so far, thanks to the support of our corporate, foundation and individual donors.


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