Pivoting Our Initiatives
In 2020, a global pandemic demanded people reimagine the routines of daily life. We at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Greater Seacoast were no different. In 2020, we harnessed our networks to mobilize $8M in emergency financial assistance and invaluable resources of people and collaboration. Here are a few stories from those efforts.
The Family Fund becomes the COVID-19 Family Support Fund
On March 13th, Governor Charlie Baker announced the emergency closure of businesses and schools. Our people — and the educational, nutritional, and healthcare systems they rely on — scrambled to find solutions to a sudden loss of food, supplies, employment, childcare, income, and faced the staggering challenge to adapt to public health guidelines. As an organization with a mission of cross-sector collaboration, United Way rapidly responded. We re-deployed staff. We connected with local nonprofits, municipal leaders, media, and corporate and philanthropic partners. MA and NH 211 call centers received thousands of phone calls. We launched a COVID-19 Family Support Fund on March 14th and began to distribute flexible financial assistance to impacted households within the week. At the start of the pandemic, our assistance bridged these gaps while key social safety supports, such as food pantries and school meals programs, adapted to operate safely. For families facing abrupt loss of income and childcare, United Way’s relief fund, channeled through community organizations, came at a critical time. We could not have done it without you.
BoSTEM brings together community partners to reimagine STEM learning
When the pandemic hit, BoSTEM had to get creative about how to provide meaningful STEM learning opportunities remotely. The team stepped up to the challenge, convening their network of community partners and working together to figure out how to get the resources needed to adapt. Whether creating a space for out-of-school time programs to brainstorm new ideas or connecting industry partners to the classroom, BoSTEM’s steadfast focus on ensuring equitable STEM opportunities during the pandemic brought inspiring STEM learning to thousands of local students at home – helping them imagine themselves in STEM and inspire a lifelong love of learning. BoSTEM also distributed microgrants to local organizations to support summer learning – enabling students to purchase the supplies they needed to successfully participate.
AmeriCorps works remotely to support students emotionally and academically
As the world shutdown and students were stuck at home facing the uncertainties and challenges of remote learning, United Way’s AmeriCorps had one week to pivot their entire program. Alongside their community partners at nonprofits and out-of-school time programs they got to work adapting to the new need, knowing that a focus on social-emotional-learning would be crucial in ensuring students continued to hit critical development milestones. That meant figuring out how to keep them engaged on a screen, helping to teach technology to multi-language learners and quickly becoming well-versed in trauma-informed care to support students through this unprecedented time. Our AmeriCorps members wasted no time in rising to the challenge, sparking joy by coming up with new ways to fill the community aspect that this program helps support and, in the process, creating life-changing experiences for the students and themselves.