(Portland, ME – July 2, 2020) United Way of Greater Portland announced today it has awarded $222,655 in the third round of grants from the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund, bringing the total amount invested to support rapid response efforts to $710,967. Fund recipients in this round include 32 local nonprofits, schools, and faith-based groups working with individuals and families disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of this outbreak.
“Throughout this unprecedented period, our Greater Portland business community and neighbors have continued to raise their hands in support of vulnerable individuals,” said Liz Cotter Schlax, President & CEO, United Way of Greater Portland. “Our initial goal for this rapid response fund was quickly met, and we are thrilled that we could provide support to a broader range of organizations and individuals than ever before. We also recognize that the fallout from the pandemic is still unknown. While the Fund provided immediate relief, there is a long road ahead as we recover and rebuild. This period (COVID-19) has shown us how much we need each other, now more than ever.”
The emergency fund grew from an initial $250,000 goal to over $700,000 thanks to the generosity of corporate sponsors, leadership donors, and individual contributors. United Way awarded $229,239 in the initial round of grants on April 9, 2020, to 31 organizations, and $259,073 on May 1, 2020, in a second round of grants to 25 organizations addressing critical needs across Cumberland County. All together the fund made gifts ranging from $1,200 to $25,000 to 51 organizations across the Greater Portland region.
Direct grant recipients from the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund – Round 3 are as follows:
- Community H.E.L.P.*
- Cooking For Community*
- Crosswalk Community Outreach
- Cumberland County Food Security Council*
- Falmouth Food Pantry, Inc
- First Assembly of God Food Distribution Ministry*
- Foundation for Portland Public Schools
- Harrison Food Bank
- Hope Acts*
- In Her Presence (IHP)
- Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine
- Locker Project*
- Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN)
- Mano en Mano
- Milestone Recovery
- My Place Teen Center
- New England Arab American Organization
- Portland Community Health Center DBA Greater Portland Health
- Portland Housing Authority
- Preble Street
- Presente! Maine
- Project GRACE
- Standish Food Pantry*
- Stroudwater Food Pantry*
- The Opportunity Alliance
- The Salvation Army
- Through These Doors
- Wayside Food Programs
- Westbrook Housing Authority
- Woodfords Family Services
Eight new programs joined the list of funded partners in the third round, including Scarborough- based Locker Project. Before COVID-19, Locker Project was awarded immediate impact funds from United Way of Greater Portland’s Brick & Beam Society through support from Avangrid Foundation. When schools closed in March, Locker Project staff worked with UWGP and Avangrid to pivot and expand the initially conceived 575 food bag program for students, to one that could serve thousands. “When the pandemic hit and schools closed, we turned that (Brick & Beam Society project) into our COVID response,” shared Kathryn Sargent, Executive Director of Locker Project. “Over the past three months, we’ve packed more than 7,500 bags and shared more than 130,000 pounds of staples and fresh produce with local families at risk of hunger, roughly double our usual amount. We’re enormously grateful for the funding provided by UWGP, and for these additional funds from the COVID-19 Community Fund, which will enable the Locker Project to ensure children and families in our community have the nourishing food they need to grow and thrive.”
The COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Grants Committee included Jennifer Beck (The John T. Gorman Foundation); Justin Burkhardt (Harvard Pilgrim Health Care); 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 Hettenbach (Unum); Colin March (TD Bank); Rose Parsons (Bank of America); Jennifer Roe (A Company of Girls); Claude Rwaganje (ProsperityME); Laura Shen (WEX Inc); and John Shoos (Sam L. Cohen Foundation).
Thrive2027 Council Member Anne Dalton shared that the committee sprang into action in late March to rapidly collect and distribute funds. “Thrive2027 partners agreed that the most important goal was immediate relief for those most vulnerable among us and community members, from business, nonprofits, and the government, signed on to review applications. The public generously donated and over $700,000 later, more than 50 community organizations from Bridgton to Westbrook, to Cumberland, to Portland received funding to distribute to those faced with food insecurity, income loss, health care crises and so much more. While the future is still uncertain, the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund made it possible to meet immediate needs and we are confident that the same determination and generosity will help to rebuild.”
For corporate sponsors like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the United Way of Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund created a coordinated and targeted approach to an evolving community challenge, directing resources to organizations that could rapidly respond to acute community issues and vulnerable individuals. “Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is committed to supporting Maine communities impacted by COVID-19 and the many families struggling to access nutritious food, emergency housing, and financial assistance as a result,” said Denise McDonough, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. “We know the needs of individuals and communities in Maine continue to evolve, and that’s why the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is targeting grants to organizations like the United Way of Greater Portland that can get critical resources to those who need it most. As a longtime supporter of UWGP, we understand how vital their work is to many families and nonprofits across Cumberland County and we’re proud to support their efforts.”
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 donations have gone directly into the community thanks to underwriting support provided by AAA of Northern New England, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Bank of America, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, The John T. Gorman Foundation, Sam L. Cohen Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, Texas Instruments Foundation and Unum.
For more information about the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Fund or to learn more about the United Way of Greater Portland, visit unitedwaygp.org.