United Way for Southeastern Michigan Announces Washtenaw County Impact Grantees

Basic Needs and Racial Equity Fund dollars to significantly impact organizations across the area

ANN ARBOR, MI – MARCH 21, 2024 – United Way for Southeastern Michigan is proud to announce the Washtenaw County 2024 Racial Equity Fund and Basic Needs grant recipients. Both opportunities are designed to address immediate needs within the community at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet and grow their impact to create more equitable communities. The total amount of the awarded funds is $225,000 to address Basic Needs and $200,000 for the Racial Equity Fund.

These grants, along with other strategic investments, continue United Way’s longstanding commitment to families in Washtenaw County in ways that help families become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive and succeed.

United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained, Employed) report tells us that 39 percent of households across the state struggle to meet their most basic needs, like childcare, utilities, and food. In Washtenaw County, the number is even higher at 39.6 percent. This is a 35 percent increase since the previous ALICE Report in 2021 and the largest percentage increase in Michigan.

2024 Washtenaw Responsive Basic Needs Grants

The Washtenaw Basic Needs grant was designed to provide rapid flexible funding to help organizations meet the increased demand for emergency food, homeless services and Medicaid enrollment support following the end of pandemic-era relief programs and a spike in need during the winter months. Through a competitive process, non-profit organizations were invited to apply for funding ranging from $15,000 to $40,000 for a six-month grant period.

This investment in local services is more important than ever given the stark increase in the number of households in Washtenaw County living below the ALICE survival threshold and these targeted investments will enable core service organizations to help more individuals and families in Washtenaw County meet their immediate basic needs including food, housing, and health while building toward long-term stability.

“These grants demonstrate United Way’s longstanding commitment to families in Washtenaw County and address the strain that rising costs and the end of many pandemic-era supports have put on household budgets,” Emily Mueller, Basic needs director, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “We are proud to support these organizations as they work to help individuals and families get out of crisis and stay out.”

Here is a list of Basic Needs grantees with links to their websites: ·

  • Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County – They work to help people live safe, meaningful and independent lives, in a more just community.
  • Faith in Action – They provide essential support to alleviate the effects of hunger and poverty for those in Dexter, Chelsea, and surrounding communities.
  • Food Gatherers -They rescue local food and leverage state and national food resources for hunger relief.
  • Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County, Inc. – Provide programs and services ranging from older adult caregiving to immigrant resettlement and career services.
  • Shelter Association of Washtenaw County – They work with a diverse range of people struggling with homelessness, including first-time homelessness, veterans, domestic violence survivors, and people battling substance abuse and/or mental health issues.
  • SOS Community Services – They provide integrated services to homeless families, children and youth working to move them from homelessness to self-sufficiency and permanent, stable housing.
  • Washtenaw Health Plan dba Washtenaw Health Projectx – They work to ensure Washtenaw County residents of all backgrounds and circumstances have the healthcare coverage they need.

“As the cost-of-living soars, we have seen a record number of households visiting our pantry in 2024 and families on the shelter waitlist continue to wait months for housing,” said Rhonda Weathers, executive director, SOS Community Service. “We are so thankful for United Way’s support for families in our community who are struggling.”

Racial Equity Fund

The Racial Equity Fund looks to provide financial support and technical assistance to BIPOC-led organizations through operational unrestricted grants. The goal is to promote authentic inclusion and fair access to resources and opportunities for everyone, empowering individuals to flourish and reach their full potential. Funded projects strive to eliminate racial disparities and foster more equitable communities across Southeastern Michigan.

Racial Equity Fund grantees:

  • A Servant’s Heart – A faith-based organization working to bring people together not to just talk about our biggest problems — but to solve them.
  • Care-Based Safety – Promotes life-affirming care, prevent conflict, collaborate with community partners, and establish a culture of safety in Washtenaw County.
  • Mexiquenses Unidos de Michigan – Actively looks beyond what can be accomplished not just for immigrant communities, but in all phases of decision-making affecting their health, educational, and community outcomes.
  • Michigan Prison Doula Initiative – Provides childbirth education and birth doula support to incarcerated people.
  • Our Village (The Regents of the University of Michigan as fiduciary
  • Survivors Speak – Works to give the voices back to those who have been unjustly silenced.
  • Youth Arts Alliance – Provides healing centered arts workshops to young people across Michigan

The Fund, developed by a diverse and inclusive team of community members during the Summer of 2021 and updated in Summer 2023 to include input from Washtenaw County, focuses on the real-life experiences of communities.

“We are so excited to expand our DEI efforts in Washtenaw County. The investments made through our Racial Equity Fund help to address systemic issues, strengthen the resilience and capacity of organizations disproportionately affected by social and economic disparities and in turn, help to build a future where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive,” said Tonya Adair, chief development, diversity & engagement officer.

This winter, the fund has made $200,000 available in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 directly for organizations with BIPOC executive leadership. In total, 49 organizations across the region have been awarded grants since 2022.

A list of all 49 Racial Equity Fund Grantees can be found here.

“The United Way for Southeastern Michigan Racial Equity Fund has provided Michigan Prison Doula Initiatives an unprecedented and unbelievable opportunity to support those who support so many,” says Tedda Hughes, executive director, Michigan Doula Initiative. “Because of this grant, MPDI will, at long last, be able to offer doula-centered and chosen self-care to caregivers who have worked in the field for decades, never expecting care in return. Thank you to everyone at United Way of Southeastern Michigan, from the bottom of our hearts.“

For more information on the Racial Equity Fund, please visit our website UnitedWaySEM.org/RacialEquityFund.

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.