United Way has been responding to local needs and our region’s most pressing issues such as homelessness, poverty and the achievement gap for more than 85 years. When COVID-19 hit, the scope and scale of these issues exploded. Our response to this unprecedented crisis is twofold:
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley has raised and distributed over $8 million to more than 300,000 vulnerable households throughout Massachusetts and the Greater Seacoast of New Hampshire through our COVID-19 Family Support Fund. This fund provides emergency financial assistance to help pay for food, rent/housing, utilities, and other necessities, as well as supporting vital programs that are opening to meet these needs.
REIMAGINE AND REBUILD
The COVID-19 crisis has illuminated and widened existing cracks in our human services safety net and education system like no other point in time in our history. But it is also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine how we meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents and empower our communities to emerge stronger, equitable and more prepared for the future. Join us in raising $52 million to lead a comprehensive community response to the ongoing crisis.
The impact from the COVID-19 crisis continues to grow:
- Unemployment has skyrocketed, with 330,000 people in Massachusetts and 26,000 people in New Hampshire out of work.
- 1 in 8 residents and 25% of Black and Latinx Massachusetts residents are experiencing food insecurity. More than 1 in 5 children in New Hampshire is food insecure.
- Over 160,000 families in Massachusetts and 26,000 in New Hampshire are at risk of eviction because of the unprecedented numbers of renters and homeowners falling behind on their payments.
- More than 270 childcare centers in Massachusetts have been forced to close, leaving 46,000 children without licensed programs. In New Hampshire, more than 200 have been closed, forcing working parents to reduce their hours or quit their jobs due to a lack of childcare.
- In both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, around half of afterschool providers won’t make it through the pandemic.
The COVID-19 Family Support Fund will continue to address the immediate need of families and critical programs.DONATE
MOVING FORWARD AND REBUILDING
It’s going to take much more than emergency financial assistance to help families and communities recover from this crisis and emerge stronger and more prepared for the future. United Way has the scale and reach to help. We have a vision and a mandate to help our communities recover and rebuild, and we have the deep partnerships with hundreds of nonprofit organizations, state and municipal leaders, and businesses to be the region’s go-to mobilizer to address these urgent needs and activate comprehensive, long-term solutions.
The Our Communities Can’t Wait fund will help us in the work of rebuilding our region to be stronger, more resilient and more equitable in the future.
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Our region faces a housing crisis of potentially enormous magnitude, with hundreds of thousands of households across Massachusetts and New Hampshire facing a looming eviction. We simply cannot afford to let families become homeless at staggering rates. United Way helps families who require emergency assistance, supports innovative programming to prevent homelessness, and leads statewide policy for long-term change.
Our Plan: Last year, 12,000 individuals and families in Massachusetts and New Hampshire avoided homelessness because of our network’s direct services. This year, we’re thinking even bigger. We’re helping an additional 15,000 families avoid homelessness and closing the statewide gap of 160,000 units needed to provide housing to all our residents by developing a state-wide roadmap to create more affordable housing units for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and provide critical rental assistance and eviction prevention services. And in New Hampshire, we awarded a $75,000 Venture Fund grant to expand Home for All’s Affordable Housing Incentive Program to reduce shelter bottleneck by half and waitlists by a third.
MOVING FAMILIES OUT OF POVERTY
COVID-19 has left a devastating financial impact on already vulnerable families. Some cities, such as Lynn and Lawrence, are seeing unemployment rates as high as 32.6%. In New Hampshire’s Rockingham and Stafford counties, unemployment rates have hit over 17%. Countless workers and their families remain underemployed with reduced hours and are struggling to make ends meet.
Our Plan: With a network of 63 career and financial coaching partners, United Way will develop 25 new career pathways programs aligned with industry growth to provide 1250 households with more resilient employment. We will expand existing credit- and asset-building initiatives. And we’ll provide financial and job training coaching to empower an additional 12,300 households in their journey toward financial stability. We’ll provide long-term case management, eviction prevention specialization, legal services, and financial assistance to 740 households at risk of homelessness due to income loss.
Our most vulnerable communities need access to reliable, high-quality early education, which is core to supporting the healthy development of young children while giving caregivers flexibility to work and pursue career development. Last year, our network of agency partners provided 12,600 children in Massachusetts and New Hampshire with access high quality learning opportunities to promote healthy child development and lay a solid foundation for their education. Now, COVID has put early education — already costly and underfunded — in a perilous situation.
Our Plan: We’re working with our network of 53 early education and care partners to help an additional 8,000 young children enroll in child care and connect with vital early childhood supports. We’re providing more young children with high-quality child care and other needed early childhood services, including scholarship funds for childcare partners in high need cities, stabilization grants and business training to 100 Family Child Care providers to prevent closures. And we’re expanding DRIVE – an early childhood developmental screening program – to increase screenings in hotspot/gateway communities by 2,500 children. Findings from DRIVE will help identify developmental concerns and provide grants to early childhood support programs for children in need of early intervention. In New Hampshire, we are leveraging federal dollars to build a regional system of supports for early care and education and family support systems.
SUPPORTING YOUTH AND REMOTE LEARNING
Young people whose parents are at work, face the compounded challenge of having no supervision or support for remote learning. The out-of-school time (OST) field stands ready to partner with the school districts in their communities to support students and families, but around 50% of afterschool/OST providers in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire are unsure if their programs will be able to reopen after the pandemic. Many programs have furloughed staff and have received little financial assistance.
Our Plan: United Way is working with 87 OST partners to expand hours in support of hybrid and remote school day instruction for more than 65,000 youth. Funds raised will support expanded OST hours, purchase materials to create socially distanced classrooms, hire additional staff to maintain low staff-to-student ratios, and purchase program supplies for more than 45,000 students and will support 2,000 youth with technological assistance, such as obtaining reliable internet and appropriate technology.
JUSTICE, DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
We have seen how the economic and health impacts of COVID-19 have hit communities of color disproportionately harder than the rest of our region. United Way is committed to advancing racial justice and equity to empower our communities and mobilize volunteers and community leaders.
Our Plan: United Way is establishing a Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fund for nonprofits that want to engage in this work with their staff and communities yet lack the financial resources to do so. This fund will support systemic change at the organizational level and recognizes that DEI learning and growth is needed at all types of organizations, and may look different for each organization.
WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE
We need everyone’s support to ensure that these programs can continue serving children, youth, and working families.
The need is only growing, and our communities can’t wait. United Way was built for this. Give today.