The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating to vulnerable individuals and families. It is critical that we sustain the emergency response, while helping our communities emerge stronger and more prepared for the future.
Vulnerable individuals and families in our region have been dealt blow after financial blow as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. United Way has responded the way we always do, with an ‘all-hands-on-deck, roll up your sleeves, get the money in the hands of the people who need it as quickly as possible’ effort that raised and distributed millions of dollars in the critical weeks following the outbreak.
As COVID-19 shows no sign of easing in our country, it continues to cause loss of life, loss of jobs, and loss of connections that so many people need to thrive. If they haven’t already, families are running out of savings, and one challenge often leads to another. Empowering our communities to rebuild as stronger and more resilient will be a long term effort, but we are undaunted. This is what we do every day.
THE NEED IS GREATER THAN EVER
Unemployment has skyrocketed from 2.8% to more than 16% in just a few months. The effects have been devastating.
- The rate of positive COVID-19 cases among Black and Latinx residents is 3x as high as the rate among white residents.
- For hospitality workers, retail workers, and other hourly employees, many living paycheck to paycheck, with no clear options for recouping lost wages, the impact of this crisis has been disastrous.
- More than 120,000 families are at risk of falling behind on housing payments and may face eviction when state moratoriums expire this summer.
- 1 in 8 families is facing food insecurity.
It is critical that we sustain the emergency response, while helping our communities emerge stronger, more prepared for the future. We already know the nonprofit sector has been hit hard. In June, nonprofits reported $8.6 billion in lost revenue and more than half have reduced staff, while adapting programming to operate safely. And yet programs like early education, job training, summer learning and back-to-school efforts will be a critical part of the infrastructure needed for our economic recovery efforts.
THE EXPANDED COVID-19 FAMILY SUPPORT FUND – GETTING BACK TO (BETTER THAN) NORMAL
Together, we will overcome this public health and economic crisis and empower our communities to rebuild, more equitable and resilient than ever. This doesn’t mean we will “get back to normal.” What was considered “normal” left behind so many communities, especially people of color and our immigrant neighbors. When housing costs force front line and low-wage workers to choose between quarantine and going to work, “normal” isn’t working. When child care educators earn more on unemployment benefits than the career they chose, to nurture the healthy development of children, “normal” isn’t working. When homeless individuals are being turned away from shelters because they’re operating at reduced capacity, “normal” isn’t working.
That’s why we’re expanding our COVID-19 Family Support Fund to:
- Distribute emergency financial assistance to individuals and families in need
- Address the systemic racial and ethnic disparities revealed and heightened by the crisis
- Ensure early education and afterschool programs reopen so parents/caregivers can get back to work and contribute to the economy
- Prevent those who have lost income from losing their housing
- Pivot job training programs to prepare displaced workers for new positions
- Engage our most vulnerable students with the social and emotional supports they need as they return to school
Thank you for stepping up to help when your friends, families and neighbors were in need. Your support has put food on the table and kept the roof over their heads. The fight is not over. Help us as we continue to reimagine and rebuild our communities.
RESPONSE TO DATE
Thanks to the generosity of over 8,000 donors as well as hundreds of corporate and foundation partners, United Way distributed more than $6 million to more than 170 organizations in the community from our COVID-19 Family Support Fund in the first three months of the crisis. We have provided:
- $1.5M to food pantries, shelters, and other meal distribution programs, specifically for the expanded purchase of food. This money has provided food and supplies like diapers to tens of thousands of people.
- $1M specifically to organizations supporting vulnerable tenants – decreasing the likelihood that these 1,300 households will face eviction when the moratorium lifts this summer.
- $3.6M in targeted assistance to families who lost wages during the shutdown, particularly immigrant families and others not able to access unemployment insurance or stimulus funding.
IF YOU NEED HELP
In collaboration with the Department of Public Health, United Way’s Mass 2-1-1 statewide consumer hotline will continue to provide consumer help during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Individuals can dial 2-1-1 for comprehensive information and referrals related to the virus, including information on where they can access flexible funds through the COVID-19 Family Support Fund. Mass 2-1-1 has responded to more than 82,000 requests for help since mid-March.
SUPPORT LOCAL FUNDS
United Way partnered with more than a dozen cities and towns to create localized relief funds, fostering collaboration between nonprofits and mayors and other elected officials, and providing donors with opportunities to support front-line workers and those most deeply impacted by the pandemic in some of the hardest-hit cities in our region. The work of many of these localized coalitions continues. Visit our Local Funds page for information about a city near you.
When we launched our COVID-19 Family Support Fund in March, we knew the need would far exceed anything we had seen before in our region and we committed to distributing 100 percent of the funds raised (less credit card fees) to directly help individuals and families. We absorbed our own costs and honored that commitment for the remainder of the fiscal year and will distribute the full $8 million we have raised through July 31, 2020. As we enter a new phase of fundraising for COVID-19 relief and recovery work, we will be taking an administrative fee of 15% to support our work to continue to identify emerging needs due to the public health and economic crisis and generate the resources needed to help. We will, however, continue to distribute 100 percent of funds raised through our local funds that we are managing in partnership with several cities and towns. We thank you in advance for your understanding, and if you have any questions, please contact Emily Stanford at email@example.com.
Inquiries about the COVID-19 FAMILY SUPPORT Fund
For general questions about the Covid-19 Family Support Fund, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For interested philanthropic and business partners, please contact Mirayah Cheek at email@example.com.
For media inquiries about United Way of Massachusetts Bay’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic, please contact Brigid Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-624-8252.