United Way awards first collaborative grants, surpasses $8 million for COVID fund

United Way for Southeastern Michigan has recently awarded its first collaborative grants as part of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The fund is helping frontline organizations, working together, as they support families impacted by the virus across Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties. Organized just three weeks ago, the fund has already provided support to more than 120 nonprofit, government and education agencies, reaching thousands of impacted people. With an original goal of $10 million, the fund has now raised more than $8 million. United Way continues to look for more financial support and opportunities to help struggling families.

Working toward its ongoing goal to assist and build stable households where children can thrive, United Way support via the COVID-19 Community Response Fund includes assistance to 76 child care providers.  Also, more than 500 people have already volunteered to help with dozens of projects across the community around issues like food insecurity, education, utility assistance, rent. In addition, the fund has approved nearly $4 million in grants to 120 organizations and the United Way is reviewing all applications as quickly as possible.  

“We are appreciative of United Way’s urgent and compassionate response to this crisis affecting so many. Our community is listening, responding, and serving its people, nonprofits and school districts through this fund,” said Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “We are so grateful to be in partnership with the amazingly talented people at United Way that are leading on behalf of those in need, especially during this crisis.” 

Among the organizations receiving collaborative support is Focus: HOPE. We’re so grateful for the generosity of United Way for Southeastern Michigan & the COVID-19 Response Fund. The grant we received will be instrumental in supporting Focus: HOPE’s efforts to meet the needs of everyone we serve during this difficult time, said Portia Roberson, CEO, Focus: HOPE. “Knowing that funders like United Way and all who have contributed to the COVID-19 Response Fund are committed to continue caring for our community throughout this crisis means so much to us and to our communities who will be impacted by the Fund’s support.” 

Initial collaborative grant awards include: 

 “We are truly grateful to United Way for Southeastern Michigan for funding this life-sustaining initiative and to Oakland University and our many partners who are working so hard to help the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Lighthouse CEO Ryan Hertz. “This partnership will expand our efforts so we can get more food more quickly to a greater number of families who need it most. With the extra space at OU, we can also increase the number of volunteers working at a safe distance from one another during this frightening pandemic.” 

The devastating impact of COVID-19 on the southeastern Michigan community, and especially Detroit, is significant.?In the city of Detroit, 74 percent of people are living near or below the poverty line, according to United Way’s ALICE (Access Limited Income Constrained Employed) report.  

The COVID-19 Community Response Fund empowers the United Way to work diligently with individual, philanthropic and corporate partners to provide much-needed support and resources.

In addition to the COVID Community Response Fund, United Way’s? 2-1-1 helpline is available by phone, text or live chat 24 hours a day to connect people with the resources they need in times of crisis. Since the crisis began, calls into 2-1-1 have nearly doubled to more than 750 each day. 


While an impact on this crisis is being made, Hudson said the need for more partnerships, volunteers and resources is?great. 

“We are all in this together. As we are all taking care of ourselves and our families, we are also encouraging people to consider volunteering in the community directly or virtually. There are many organizations who need volunteer support,” Dr. Darienne Hudsonpresident and CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan said. “This crisis touches everyone, regardless of where you live or how much you make and there is great need for those of us who can lean in and help.” 

To learn more about United Way’s efforts to help those affected by this crisis or to make a donation, visit their website here. 

About United Way for Southeastern Michigan? 

United Way for Southeastern Michigan, a member of the United Way Worldwide network and an independently governed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works to help households become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive. For more than 100 years, United Way has been a leader in creating positive, measurable and sustainable change in communities throughout southeast Michigan. United Way works in partnership with donors, agencies, corporate and municipal partners to help families meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care and family finances, and ensure children start school ready to learn and graduate ready for life. To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit UnitedWaySEM.org.??

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