April 20 2020 0comment

United Way of the Wabash Valley Secures $1.1MM Economic Relief Initiative Grant

The United Way of the Wabash Valley announced today that it has been approved to receive a $1,100,000 COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant, made possible through a partnership between Lilly Endowment, Inc. and Indiana United Ways, the state professional association of which United Way of the Wabash Valley (UWWV) is a member.  These special funds will be used to further enhance the work already underway with the local Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.  The local fund was launched March 23 by a joint partnership between UWWV and the Wabash Valley Community Foundation.  Its purpose is to assist service provider organizations helping individuals and families with immediate COVID-19-related financial needs not covered by government programs or other traditional relief sources.

“For the last few years, United Way of the Wabash Valley has been focused on convening and coordinating efforts to assist struggling working families.  Even before this crisis, we knew that 44% of households in our community were not able to make ends meet,” said Jameel Ahmed, Board President for UWWV.  “Our local relief fund has already demonstrated how we can achieve more by all working together. Now, thanks to this generous support from the Lilly Endowment, our fund is strongly positioned to use all of our collective strengths to aid our recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.”

The COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant calls for United Ways who receive funding to leverage partnerships and relationships to better meet COVID-related essential and basic needs and to address other COVID-19 critical issues as they emerge.

Richard Payonk, United Way Executive Director, explained how UWWV plans to invest the grant funds using a three-tiered approach. “This tremendous gift does not just belong to United Way; these are community funds and we will work collaboratively with the community to make wise investments.  The first tier of this funding will allow us to continue the Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund short term grants, which have already provided assistance totaling nearly $175,000 to 39 local organizations.”

“Because of this generous grant, we can now also launch a second tier of investments. We will continue working with our partners at the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, and also select a Guide Team of key stakeholders who will help us identify the best grant investments for our community over the next 3-6 months.” Payonk says they envision this second tier of investments to be targeted grants from the local fund on the order of $75K to $100K per initiative. These larger investments may be by invite-only to pre-identified organizations with the demonstrated capacity to complete the work needed.  A third tier of investment of the $1.1MM Economic Relief Initiative Grant will be held for long-term future needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danielle Isbell, Resource Development Director for UWWV hopes this new grant inspires more businesses and individuals to contribute to the local relief fund. “We’ve been given a fantastic gift, and we are very grateful.  Still, it is important to keep in perspective the need that exists.  Before this pandemic, more than 34,000 households in our 6 counties lived paycheck to paycheck, and for many, those paychecks have stopped.  $1.1 million sounds like enough, but if you do the math, it would provide only about $32 to each struggling family.  The Lilly Endowment has made our work more impactful, but even with them, we are not yet out of the woods, and we still need our community’s support.”

UWWV will provide more details on the expanded investments from the Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund in the weeks ahead.  Initial short-term grants remain available through the local fund. Those organizations wanting to apply can request up to a maximum of $5,000.  Details on how to apply are available at uwwv.org/covid.

If community members are interested in donating to the fund, please visit uwwv.org/covid or wvcf.org/covid.  Corporate partners and foundations seeking to be partners in the fund can reach out to Danielle Isbell at [email protected] or Beth Tevlin at [email protected].