Within a day of the Governor’s initial shut-down order, United Way of Massachusetts Bay established the  COVID-19 Family Support Fund, a dedicated resource for working families affected by the crisis. Mobilizing United Way’s broad network of nonprofit partners throughout our footprint including NH and Southern Maine, the COVID-19 Family Support Fund began providing a flexible source of cash assistance to help families weather the COVID-19 crisis within the first week.

100 percent of donations are dedicated directly to help families in need.

United Way’s fund is different from other COVID response funds in two ways:

  • Our footprint includes Greater Boston, the North Shore, Merrimack Valley, South Shore, Greater Attleboro/Taunton, and the NH Seacoast through local, community-based agencies already responding in their communities. 
  • Our fund is intended to respond to the needs of individuals with direct emergency assistance, rather than supporting non-profit operations or programs. We continue our general fundraising efforts to support the operations of our nonprofit partners and we applaud the efforts of other philanthropies to focus on that area as well.

How can someone request financial support from the fund?

For individuals looking for information about how to access emergency assistance, the most comprehensive way to do so is through Mass2-1-1 or 2-1-1NH, our dedicated information and referral lines. Dial 2-1-1 from any landline and 877-211-6277 from a cell phone to be connected to our call center. In Massachusetts, 211 is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to provide comprehensive information and referral for people. We will keep 2-1-1 appraised as funds are granted to local agency partners. 

How and when will this fund be distributed?

United Way set up the fund within a day of school being closed. The first distribution of funds was made within four business days and subsequent distributions of funds have been made weekly through our existing network of local, community-based nonprofit partners across our region. We are primarily activating this network in order to respond to this crisis rapidly and with maximum flexibility. 

What is United Way’s track record and history in this type of fund distribution?

United Way is not new to emergency response — our Family Fund has a 20+ year history responding to the needs of economically vulnerable individuals, children, and families with partners across our region. We know that during an emergency, the most critical thing we can do is to focus on those who are most vulnerable and to coordinate our response with municipal and regional leaders, nonprofit direct service providers, and philanthropies to ensure funds are deployed wisely and meet as many needs as possible. 

What can funds be used for?

United Way funds will be used to assist individuals and families impacted by lost wages with attention to those populations who are especially vulnerable during this time. This includes emergency food and supplies as well as basic household expenses including housing, utilities, childcare, and some other basic necessities. United Way issues guidance to its partners for the parameters of each grant. 

How is UW coordinating with other funds?

Throughout this crisis, United Way is deploying its funds in coordination with other philanthropic leaders, local and state officials, and nonprofits. In an evolving crisis, this will require flexibility and multi-level prioritization. We are leveraging our partnerships with companies across the region and with Combined Jewish Philanthropies, The Boston Foundation, the Mayor of Boston’s Fund, Essex County Community Foundation,  Endowment for Health, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, Tufts Health Plan Foundation, and other local, regional, and national foundations who are making special funds available to meet the needs of this crisis. 

Will UW support needs statewide or within our service area?

As is typically the case, United Ways are incorporated locally to meet the needs of their service area. This United Way is responding to needs within our service area, as are many other United Way chapters including United Way of Central Massachusetts, United Way of North Central Massachusetts, United Way of the Greater Plymouth County, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Granite United Way, Monadnock United Way, and United Way of Greater Nashua. We remain open to additional partnerships with municipalities, foundations, corporations, or government agencies to serve communities within or outside our service area in partnership with other Massachusetts-based or New Hampshire-based United Ways.