United Way of Greater Portland awards $229,239 in first round of COVID-19 Community Relief Fund grants

United Way of Greater Portland announced today it has awarded $229,239 in the first round of grants from the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to 31 local non-profit and school-based organizations. 

The initial round of awards was distributed as direct grants by the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Committee. These grants ensure rapid funding for organizations on the front lines meeting emergency needs for those affected by the pandemicsuch as food, shelter, and emergency financial assistance. 

United Way of Greater Portland President and CEO Liz Cotter Schlax said that in addition to the immediate grant cycle, the committee will continue to look at the developing needs of the community. “We are approaching this from multiple angles because the most important thing now is that we act quickly and get the money flowing,” she said. “This fund will support our neighbors most impacted by COVID-19. 

Direct grant recipients from the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund include: 

  • Amistad 
  • Catholic Charities Maine 
  • Community Resource Council of Naples Maine, Agency of United Methodist Church of Good Fellowship 
  • Crosswalk Community Outreach 
  • Falmouth Food Pantry, INC 
  • Frannie Peabody Center 
  • Freeport Community Services 
  • Gray Community Food Pantry 
  • Harrison Food Bank, Inc 
  • In Her Presence (IHP) 
  • Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine 
  • Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN) 
  • Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition 
  • Maine Behavioral Healthcare 
  • Milestone Recovery 
  • My Place Teen Center 
  • New England Arab American Organization 
  • Greater Portland Health 
  • Portland Housing Authority 
  • Portland Public Schools 
  • Presente! Maine 
  • ProsperityME 
  • Rwandese Community Association of Maine 
  • Shalom House  
  • The Opportunity Alliance 
  • The Salvation Army 
  • Through These Doors 
  • Wayside Food Programs 
  • Westbrook Services Corporation – 501 (c)(3) for Westbrook Housing  
  • Woodfords Family Services  
  • YMCA of Southern Maine 

“We’ve increased our work week from 3 to 6 days, picking up in 30 locations instead of our normal 10 locations to get enough food for all those in need,” said Sandra Swett, Operations Manager of the Harrison Food Pantry. “This funding helps to ensure we can meet the needs of our regular patrons and the additional working families that have been laid off, the elderly, disabled, and quarantined families with a health risk.” 

Organizations across Cumberland County requested more than $850,000 in this first grant cycle. A COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Grants Committee consisting of business and community leaders across Greater Portland was established to review 43 applications and swiftly distribute grants from the fund. The committee includes Jennifer Beck, the John T. Gorman Foundation; Mufalo Chitam, Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition; Anne Dalton, The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc.; Tony DiSotto, KeyBank; Ashley Duca, Texas Instruments; James Elkins, Career Planning Services; Jim Gailey, Cumberland County; Chris Hall, Greater Portland Council of Governments; Quincy Hentzel, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce; James HettenbachUnum; Colin March, TD Bank; Jane Parker, Bank of America; Jennifer Roe, A Company of Girls; Claude RwaganjeProsperityME; and John Shoos, Sam L. Cohen Foundation. 

“Thanks to the generosity of all who have given so far, we can get money to organizations that are directly assisting individuals in dire need,” said Quincy Hentzel, President and CEO, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, and COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Committee member. “However, this is just the beginning. We do not know what our needs will be in a week or a month, so it’s important we grow the fund to be able to meet evolving challenges.” 

United Way of Greater Portland launched the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund on March 20 to support a range of nonprofit organizations assisting members of the community, particularly those most vulnerable. 100% of individuals’ donations go directly into the community thanks to underwriting support provided by Bank of America, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the John T. Gorman Foundation, Sam L. Cohen Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, Texas Instruments Foundation, and Unum.  

A new grant application cycle will open soon with projected disbursement following soon thereafter to address ongoing emerging needs. 

For more information about the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund or to donate, visit