United Way of the Lakeshore’s Board of Directors awarded $1,841,511 to non-profit programs in Muskegon, Newaygo, and Oceana Counties aimed at helping working families meet their basic needs by 2025.
“Thanks to the generosity of thousands of area residents and companies, and time spent by dozens of dedicated volunteers, United Way of the Lakeshore is pleased to provide needed funding to area health and human service organizations who improve the quality of life for so many in need,” shared Erin Kuhn, Impact Council Chair and President of West Michigan Regional Development Commission. “We all know the needs are great in our communities. We are fortunate to have so many able partners to assist our friends and neighbors during these tough times.” Kuhn said.
The funded programs focus on building thriving communities through health, education and financial stability and target the following community level goals:
- Building a skilled & educated workforce through school readiness, math & reading proficiency, on-time graduation, and career awareness/life success;
- Financial stability and independence through stable employment to living wages, building savings through budgeting, housing stability, and manageable expenses;
- Healthy and safe individuals and families including a healthy start for children, access to health care and counseling, safe and caring homes and community, good nutrition and active lifestyles.
In Muskegon County, $906,629 was awarded to 36 programs from 28 agencies. In Oceana County, $55,460 in funding was awarded for 13 agency programs. In Newaygo County, 19 programs received a total of $85,976.
Along with these awards, $253,401 in COVID Relief funding has gone out to support 48 programs through the pandemic with emergent needs like, food, shelter, child care, and personal protective equipment. $310,045 was directly designated by donors to specific non-profit agencies and another $230,000 was approved to support youth employment programs. A total of $1.8 million invested in direct assistance in Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana Counties. In addition, United Way of the Lakeshore provided programs and support in the areas of volunteerism, community collaboration, education and training.
United Way’s fund distribution process began in March, with 78 volunteers learning about community needs in the areas of education, income and health through the review of funding proposals and agency presentations held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Volunteers then made recommendations on funding the United Way Impact Strategy Team in each county, who made final recommendations to the United Way board of directors.
United Way of the Lakeshore is strategically focusing efforts and funding on helping ALICE families become stable and thriving. ALICE is an acronym for those households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, and earning more than the U.S. poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the county. The number of households falling under this threshold represents 45% of the population in Muskegon, 47% in Oceana County and 45% of Newaygo County. Christine Robere, United Way of the Lakeshore’s President and CEO, said “We have set a bold goal as an organization to help 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. Since the first ALICE Report in 2014, more than 6,000 lives had improved, mostly moving from poverty to ALICE. Over the last several years, we saw wages and job opportunities improve, but the cost of living went up in Michigan by 26% forcing many more families below the ALICE threshold. The current pandemic has exacerbated an already challenging financial stability situation in our communities. Programs aimed at eviction prevention, food assistance and job training are particularly vital this year”.