The United Way of Washtenaw County, Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels, Food Gatherers, and the Washtenaw County Health Department recently received over $1 million combined in Rapid Response Initiative grants from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. The grants will allow the Washtenaw County organizations to continue responding to community needs associated with the impacts COVID-19 has had on communities of color.
The United Way of Washtenaw County was awarded $500,000 to support its established COVID-19 Community Recovery Fund. The Recovery Fund provides ongoing support to local human service nonprofits and community groups, as well as United Way of Washtenaw County community programs such as Financial Navigation.
The United Way of Washtenaw County has awarded $400,000 to 20 local organizations, with 85% of the funding going to agencies led by people of color.
Bridget Herrmann, the United Way of Washtenaw County's vice president of impact and advocacy, says this funding has allowed the nonprofit to expand its reach with local agencies, in addition to the agencies it had previously supported.
"We're really excited to be able to continue providing this support," Herrmann says. "We're able to provide direct funding to organizations we haven't had previous relationships with. That's always our organization's priority – to expand relationships."
The Rapid Response grant funds must be distributed to the community by the end of the year. Herrmann says the United Way of Washtenaw County will continue to focus on agencies and programs that help meet basic needs, focus on financial stability, and support K-12 educational needs.
Other local organizations awarded Rapid Response grants will continue to serve communities that have especially felt the impact of the pandemic. Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels will use its Rapid Response Initiative funding to serve Washtenaw County's under-60 homebound population. The Washtenaw County Health Department plans to expand COVID-19 tests and provide flu vaccinations, and Food Gatherers will continue to provide meals and groceries to people experiencing homelessness and other groups impacted by COVID-19.
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Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.