United Way receives $275,000 COVID-19 economic relief grant


Jackson County United Way recently received a $275,000 COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant to boost the efforts of selected area human and social service nonprofits on the front lines of the pandemic.

The grant was made possible through a partnership between Lilly Endowment and Indiana United Ways, the state professional association of which Jackson County United Way is a member.

"Jackson County United Way has been a key convener and coordinator of our community’s response to meet human needs for decades," said Luke Nolting, president of the United Way board.

"Even before this crisis, we knew that 39% of families in Jackson County were not able to make ends meet despite working," he said. "Without a robust local nonprofit safety net, those needs are bound to become even more dire. Thanks to generous support from the Lilly Endowment Inc., we are now more strongly positioned to help our community’s nonprofits deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19.”

The grant calls for United Ways receiving funding to leverage partnerships and relationships to better meet COVID-19-related essential and basic needs, which could include safe, emergency child care, and to address other COVID-19 critical issues as they emerge.

Jackson County United Way plans to focus on partnering with nonprofits to ensure access to direct services, such as child care, and out-of-school supports, food, housing and utility assistance while keeping an eye on future unmet and emerging needs, according to a news release from United Way.

During this unparalleled moment in history, United Way is strengthening its commitment to address the immediate and urgent needs of all Jackson County residents.

COVID-19 emergency relief funds raised locally have been invested in six agencies, totaling $34,480. These funds are being used to assist residents through United Way partnerships.

Grantees and the support they provide include:

  • Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry: Food, hygiene and cleaning supplies
  • Blessings in a Backpack: Weekend food assistance for Boys and Girls Club
  • Boys and Girls Club of Seymour: Summer child care scholarships
  • Child Care Network: Summer child care scholarships
  • The Salvation Army: Rent and utility assistance
  • Waymaker Ministries: Food, daily living needs and mental health supports

Ryon Wheeler, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, said while fees the club charges are a fraction of the actual cost to serve children, there are many families struggling with those right now.

"Many families have been laid off and haven’t received any unemployment, have seen a reduction in hours or have lost their jobs completely," he said. "This wonderful grant will allow kids to have some normalcy in a safe environment while parents can still work or look for work during this time."

Waymaker serves all residents of the county through a number of programs aimed at helping individuals and families reach and maintain stability, said Karen Browning, the organization’s executive director.

In addition to daily food, a meal site gives community members an opportunity to speak in person with one of Waymaker’s team members to discuss needs and have a moment to speak with someone about concerns and anxieties, she said.

United Way also continues to be focused on considering longer term challenges, including quality, affordable housing, domestic safety, mental health supports and enrollment in needed health coverage that will affect financial stability, education and health outcomes across the county. United Way has been accepting funding requests from area human and social service nonprofits in good standing.

Interested organizations should visit jacsy.org/emergencyrelief for guidance on funding intent and application instructions.

The funds will assist nonprofit organizations helping individuals and families with immediate COVID-19-related financial needs not covered by government programs or other traditional relief sources. Instead, the fund will provide financial assistance to nonprofits organizations that are eligible.

To be eligible, the organization must be recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit, serve residents in Jackson County, have an emergent organizational need or have a process to provide direct individual assistance for emergent needs.

If direct individual assistance is provided, the client will be asked to complete a Charity Tracker release of information, and the organization will complete an assistance record in the Charity Tracker system.

The COVID fund distribution committee is working to set priorities around funding for child care and out-of-school supports, internet access, domestic safety and housing first, mental health needs, access to health insurance enrollment and access and support services for Spanish-speaking residents.

Payments from this grant will not be made directly to individuals or families requesting financial assistance. United Way is convening biweekly conference calls to discuss emerging and unmet needs and planning for future needs with more than 40 nonprofit, faith-based, governmental and community leaders. 

To have one point of contact for multiple needs, United Way has created a COVID-19 assistance referral form to connect clients to needs to a variety of services. The form can be completed online at jacsy.org/COVIDhelp.

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Jackson County United Way is a nonprofit organization that unites the community’s time, talent and treasure to cultivate and advance community solutions that address the most critical issues around basic needs, education, financial stability and healthy lives. For information, contact Executive Director Tonja Couch at [email protected].

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation supporting the causes of religion, education and community development focusing its work in Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. For information, contact Communications Director Judith Cebula at [email protected].

Indiana United Ways is the state association for United Ways in Indiana that supports thriving United Ways through capacity building, shared services and partnering. For information, contact President and Chief Executive Officer Maureen Noe at [email protected].


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