United Way for Southeastern Michigan announced today that it has received a $25 million contribution from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The grant is part of a total $4 billion Ms. Scott has designated to support the work of 384 organizations in communities across the country.
The fund has two primary objectives. First, awards are intended to address the immediate impact of the pandemic which has dramatically increased the number of households struggling to afford their basic needs. Also, these resources will fund efforts intended to address the longterm systemic inequities exposed and deepened by the crisis.
“We are very grateful for this significant gift from Ms. Scott,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “This type of bold and forwardthinking support is very much appreciated and needed. It will immediately help bolster what we’re doing every day to help families, children, workers, and seniors whose health, lives, and livelihoods have been hard hit by the pandemic.”
Recipients of these grants were not chosen lightly. In a written statement announcing the gifts, Ms. Scott describes the work she and her team put in to identifying organizations “with strong leadership teams and results…in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”
Ultimately, of 6,490 organizations considered, she looked deeper into 822. Of those, only 384 made the cut and will receive funding.
In addition to United Way for Southeastern Michigan, more than 40 other local United Ways were included in the award announcement—a wonderful testament to the work and reputation of the United Way network across the country.
“The extraordinarily generous gift gives us added flexibility to quickly respond to pressing needs in our area,” said David Foltyn, United Way board chair. “Our organization has a long history of stepping up in times of crisis. We have a proven ability to effectively scale up programs and deliver immediate services to help more people in challenging times. On behalf of United Way for Southeastern Michigan and our communities, we thank Ms. Scott for thinking of us.”
“This contribution is meaningful investment in Southeastern Michigan families, as well as the capacity of the non-profit sector to meet increasing need.” Hudson added. “As a graduate of a historically Black college (HBCU), I am personally grateful for Ms. Scott’s investments in the education of Black students and her support of equity and inclusion efforts across the country. This will have a significant impact, but the need is overwhelming and there is still much more to do.”
United Way’s ALICE Report* shows that more than 44-percent of households in Southeastern Michigan were already struggling to afford the cost of basic needs like food, shelter, and health care, before the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the region. In Detroit, that number is more than 74-percent. This staggering figure has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and while it has affected everyone across the country, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate negative impact on Black and Brown communities.
In March 2020, United Way for Southeastern Michigan created its Community Response Fund to address the spike in need caused by the pandemic and the economic challenges that came with it. With the support of individuals, corporations, and philanthropic partners, as of December, the fund has raised more than $37 million, funded over 900 organizations, served 2.5 million individuals, and coordinated 8,745 volunteer hours.
Given the significant need in the community, United Way will design a specific strategy to ensure these funds are allocated where they will be most effective in addressing near and long term needs. These details will be released in the near future.
MacKenzie Scott is an American philanthropist, activist, and novelist. She is also the executive director and founder of Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization. Scott is a member of the Giving Pledge, a movement of philanthropists who commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills. To learn more about United Way for Southeastern Michigan and how to support their work, visit www.UnitedWaySEM.org.
About United Way for Southeastern Michigan
United Way for Southeastern Michigan mobilizes the caring power of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties to improve lives in measurable and lasting ways, in partnership with more than 700 agency partners. United Way is a leader in convening entities including business, labor, and government toward achieving positive outcomes for individuals and families around its Basic Needs & Health; Education; and Economic Prosperity strategies. The organization engages the community in its work via volunteerism and advocacy efforts, and its annual campaign. For more information visit www.UnitedWaySEM.org.
About the ALICE Report
The ALICE Report is a data-based analysis of how Michigan households are faring. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed—a reference to the many Michigan households who are working, but still struggling to make ends meet. The report, generated by the Michigan Association of United Ways, uses a variety of data sources to compare household earnings to the true cost of living as determined by the basic cost of food, housing, childcare, healthcare, transportation, technology, and taxes. The report looks at the lowest possible cost for each of these necessities to calculate the amount a household must earn to meet all their needs. This is referred to as the ALICE Threshold. For more information, visit www.uwmich.org/alice.