United Way’s Disaster Relief Fund has received strong corporate and foundation support that will be applied to local, broad-based needs related to COVID-19. Donations over the past five days have reached $850,000. Local donors can help further drive that impact by supporting the fund and leveraging a matching gift challenge.

“Our region has incredibly generous and community-minded organizations that step up to help those in need. They represent the inspiring, can-do spirit that is critical to helping vulnerable individuals and families navigate through this crisis,” said Chris Sargent, President and CEO of United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region (UWBCKR).

Among the donors supporting the Disaster Relief Fund:

• The W.K. Kellogg Foundation contributed $500,000 to address basic needs among households due to the coronavirus outbreak.

• The Kalamazoo City Commission approved an emergency resolution providing $250,000 of support from the Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo High Impact Fund, which is funded by the Foundation for Excellence.

• Kellogg Company and one of its charitable funds gave $100,000 as a matching gift, meaning donations from the public will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to that amount

“We applaud local leadership and this quick response to safeguard children and families in Battle Creek,” said Faye Alexander Nelson, Director of Michigan Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “The health and well-being of people in our communities is our primary concern. We are proud to support this effort.”

“How we band together to help each other in tough times is a defining strength of our community,” said Stephanie Slingerland, Director of Philanthropy/Social Impact for Kellogg Company and Chair of UWBCKR’s Board of Directors. “We’ve provided support to the Disaster Relief Fund to help NEWS RELEASE ensure families and children continue to get access to food and other resources they need, andwe are offering a dollar-for-dollar match up to $100,000 for others who give.”

Other key donors to the Disaster Relief Fund are Stryker and the Harold & Grace Upjohn Foundation.

Created last year by United Way to help the community respond to critical needs, the Disaster Relief Fund strengthens the community’s ability to respond quickly to critical needs. It has its roots in similar funds formed in partnership with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation after past crises, including the economic downturn in 2009, local mass shootings in 2016 and the Kalamazoo flood in 2018. The Kalamazoo Community Foundation has also created a Community Urgent Relief Fund to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

UWBCKR’s Sargent said United Way is working with area nonprofit agencies and municipalities to determine what the needs are and how the Disaster Relief Fund can best support the work. Among the concerns being assessed are access to food, emergency child care and household impact due to lost wages—an especially worrisome risk for families in poverty or ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

Last year, United Way utilized the Disaster Relief Fund to help underwrite the Community Resilience Program Manager role through Gryphon Place, along with partners Stryker, the City of Battle Creek, the City of Kalamazoo, Calhoun County and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. That manager is now working with emergency response consortiums in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek to identify and address needs related to the outbreak.

If you wish to support the Disaster Relief Fund and strengthen the community’s response, go to changethestory.org and click on the COVID-19 red bar, or select “Disaster Relief” from the pulldown menu.

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