ROCKY HILL, CT (May 13, 2020) - The Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund has announced that more than 1,000 households across the state have now benefited from the Fund. The Fund is a unique joint effort launched by all 15 United Ways in Connecticut to help those who lost jobs, wages, or childcare, or who were otherwise financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Partnering with social service agencies across Connecticut, the Fund has identified those most in need of immediate monetary assistance. Through a system developed with EML Payment Limited (“EML”), beneficiaries are downloading $200 to their mobile wallets and are using the money to pay for basic household necessities like groceries and utilities. A Beneficiary from Groton shares her gratitude for the assistance: “Both myself and my husband are in the hospitality industry. I’m a Server and he’s a Master Chef in our local restaurants. We are currently out of work due to COVID-19. We learned about the United Ways Fund from Heidi McSwain at Groton Human Services. She contacted us immediately and shared much needed help. We will use this money to buy what our family really needs right now. Thank you!”
In Stamford, a resident stated, “It means so much not to have to worry about how I will pay the electric bill for a few months.”
Most people who applied to the fund identified food (76%) and paying for utilities (75%) as their most immediate needs, although housing (56%) and childcare (9%) were also identified as financial challenges. Data collected from their actual purchases (see table below) shows spending patterns reflect those identified needs.
The 15 United Ways across the state of Connecticut joined together within days of realizing the economic ripple effects of the pandemic. They were able to create this innovative system because of the strong relationships they had with each other, the social service providers in their communities, and funders who had dollars they could commit immediately.
“We were getting funds to people within two weeks of when this crisis began,” said Kim Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Western Connecticut. “Our strong United Way partnerships with both social service agencies and funders meant we could stand this up quickly and get help to people just when they needed it most.”
The more funds that are raised, the more people that can be served. The Connecticut United Ways are not charging administrative fees for the Fund. TO date, the Fund has raised and is distributing nearly $700,000. Donors have included residents, state employees, and corporate partners and foundations, including: Aetna Foundation, Avangrid Foundation (parent company of United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas), Citizens Bank, The Connecticut Health Foundation, Connecticut State Employees Campaign, Eversource, Ion Bank, Liberty Bank, Medtronic Foundation, Newtown Savings Bank, Pitney Bowes, Timken Foundation, Travelers, Union Savings Bank, J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Webster Bank, and Wells Fargo.
Most beneficiaries of the fund are individuals and families that United Way calls ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). These are our hard-working neighbors who live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings to fall back on in an emergency like this. Many of them provide crucial services in our community—such as caring for our children and elderly parents. With no financial cushion, they are particularly vulnerable to the rapidly changing scenario our country now faces. United Way expects that the number of individuals and families in the state that fall into the ALICE income threshold will grow as the crisis continues.
City and town social service departments can call 860-493-6800 to learn how to get funds to clients in need.
The table above shows actual purchases through the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund. Those purchases reflect the most pressing needs identified by applicants (see graph below), which were food and utilities.
About Connecticut United Ways
Connecticut United Ways advance the common good by creating opportunities for all, with a particular focus on education, income/financial security, health, and basic needs – the building blocks for a good quality of life. We engage people and organizations throughout our communities who bring passion, expertise, and resources needed to get things done, and we invite everyone to be part of the change.