November 04 2020 0comment

Wabash Valley COVID Relief Fund Awards Over $160,000 in Second Tier Rural County Grants

The Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund today announced awards totaling $160,400 to five organizations as part of their second tier of large-scale grants focused specifically on the rural counties surrounding Vigo in the Wabash Valley.  These awards are intended to assist local organizations in helping a broader number of individuals and families with both short- and long-term COVID-19 related needs who are providing service to those living outside of Vigo County.

In mid-March, the United Way of the Wabash Valley and the Wabash Valley Community Foundation created and seeded the Relief Fund to quickly and effectively grant resources to community-based organizations to address emerging needs in our community as a result of the COIVD-19 pandemic.  Since then the Fund has awarded short-term relief grants and second-tier larger-scale grants to provide significantly greater relief efforts in “needs areas” determined by local community input.  The second-tier efforts were expanded with this grant opportunity to organizations providing service outside of Vigo County.  This funding allows for the expansion of existing programs or the creation of new programs to meet the ever-changing needs arising from the pandemic.

The organizations receiving funding for this round of programming include:

  • $39,985 for West Central Indiana Area Health Education Center (WCI-AHEC), hosted at Indiana State University, to provide Mental Health First Aid Training in all the United Way rural service counties with a focus on first responders and essential workers. This will help those interacting with the public understand and respond to the first signs of distress in others that are suffering in the community.
  • $20,000 for Pace Community Action Agency in Sullivan County to provide warm family meals to those suffering by partnering with local restaurants for the meals to help their small businesses.
  • $30,000 for the Salvation Army Service Extension Units in Sullivan, Clay, Parke, and Vermillion counties to assist with rent, utilities, food and other essentials.
  • $40,000 for South Vermillion Community Schools to provide hotspot subscriptions for students in need, begin offering a tutoring program to struggling students, and to provide structured wellness opportunities to stressed teachers and staff.
  • $30,512 for Sullivan Housing Authority to create a mentoring and tutoring program aimed at the student residents of the Housing Authority, but also other low-income families in Sullivan County.

“The Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund has been able to support individuals across the Wabash Valley since March, but we wanted to be able to provide larger funding opportunities to organizations focused on those living in the areas surrounding Vigo County,” explained Jameel Ahmed, Professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and board president of the United Way of the Wabash Valley.  “The struggles in our community don’t stop at county lines and the United Way sees the importance of making sure all of our community has access to the help they need. These programs will provide needed resources like support for students falling behind, connectivity for home learning, income for small businesses, mental health training, and safety net services for individuals.”

Richard Payonk, Executive Director of the United Way of the Wabash Valley explained, “Both United Way and the Community Foundation appreciate all the work being done by organizations to support those struggling across the Wabash Valley. This pandemic has highlighted and intensified the needs of struggling families in our community. This is just one step in helping those in need, but our work will continue to provide both short-term and long-term root cause problem solving to create a stronger Wabash Valley.”

Overall, the Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund has been able to provide grants totaling over $1.1 million to over 100 different organizations since March. More information on the Relief Fund is available at