United Way Emerald Coast (UWEC) awarded a total of $867,168 to local nonprofit organizations in Okaloosa and Walton counties from the COVID-19 Relief Fund, Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), 2020-21 Community Investment grants, and donor-designated gifts. United Way works diligently with hundreds of partners to fight for every person's health, education, and financial stability in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
"We are so fortunate to be a recipient of United Way Emerald Coast’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. So much has changed since the shutdown, and the need has been immense. It's wonderful to work with an organization, like United Way, that is up to the challenge," said Nathan Monk, Executive Director, One Hopeful Place. "From hurricanes to hunger and now even a global pandemic, United Way is always there to empower groups like us to provide immediate and emergency relief to those who need it most."
When COVID-19 started affecting the community, UWEC launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide immediate assistance to those impacted by the pandemic. Their COVID-19 relief grants provide support specifically to nonprofits who are on the front lines, providing housing assistance, utility assistance, healthcare, childcare, and food programs. Since the first grants were awarded in April, UWEC has invested $215,000 in 19 local nonprofit organizations and more than 24,000 individuals have been impacted. By supporting nonprofits with these resources, UWEC was able to help them increase their capacity and ability to provide critical services to those in need.
In addition to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, UWEC operated as the Local Board Administrator for the Emergency Food and Shelter Programs in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Over $144,000 was released to Okaloosa County nonprofits, and over $44,000 was released to Walton County nonprofits. This federally funded program provides income support to low-income residents on an emergency basis. These funds prevent hunger, preserve housing, provide shelter, and support their basic energy needs.
"As part of the fabric of Northwest Florida, Gulf Power has a long history of helping our customers and our communities during difficult times. This crisis is different from anything we have ever experienced before. We must pull together as a community to lend help to those most impacted," said Bernard Johnson, Regional Manager at Gulf Power. "We are committed to working with the United Way to assist those most vulnerable and are very appreciative of the other businesses and many individuals who have joined us in this effort."
UWEC also announced their 2020-21 Community Investment grants thanks to support from donors throughout the year. This year, more than $300,000 was distributed amongst 14 local nonprofit programs. These organizations are aligned with UWEC’s mission, meet current community needs, and are committed to producing measurable results in the areas of health, education, or financial stability. In addition to releasing numerous grants this year, UWEC also distributed $100,000 in donor-designated gifts to various nonprofits.
UWEC required each nonprofit to go through a rigorous vetting process in order to be eligible for grant consideration. Local volunteers reviewed grant applications and made funding recommendations to UWEC’s Board of Directors. “The reality is, more than 40% of the households in Okaloosa and Walton counties struggle to make ends meet. That’s where UWEC comes in. By partnering with donors, advocates, and volunteers, we can identify proven strategies and work toward a common goal. It takes collaboration and a giving spirit to create real, lasting change in our community,” said United Way Emerald Coast President & CEO Kelly Jasen.
Each nonprofit will be required to submit results throughout the year, showcasing how the funds are truly making a difference in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
Nonprofits Grant Recipients:
• AMIKids Emerald Coast (Community Investment Grant)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida (COVID-19 Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast (COVID-19 Grants, Community Investment Grant)
• Bridgeway Center (COVID-19 Grants)
• Caterpillar 2 Butterfly Outreach Center (COVID-19 Grants)
• Catholic Charities (COVID-19 Grants, EFSP Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• Children in Crisis (COVID-19 Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• Crossroads Center (Community Investment Grant)
• Early Learning Coalition (COVID-19 Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• Eleanor J Johnson (COVID-19 Grants)
• Embrace FL Kids (EFSP Grant)
• Feeding the Gulf Coast (COVID-19 Grants, EFSP Grant)
• Fresh Start for Children & Families (COVID-19 Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• Habitat for Humanity in Okaloosa County (COVID-19 Grant)
• Homelessness & Housing Alliance (COVID-19 Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• Matrix Community Outreach Center (EFSP Grants)
• Mental Health Association of Okaloosa County (COVID-19 Grants, Community Investment Grant)
• Oasis Florida (Community Investment Grant)
• Okaloosa County Council on Aging, Inc. (COVID-19 Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• One Hopeful Place (COVID-19 Grants)
• Opportunity Place (COVID-19 Grants, EFSP Grants)
• S4P Synergy (COVID-19 Grant)
• Sharing and Caring (COVID-19 Grant, Community Investment Grant)
• The Salvation Army (COVID-19 Grants, EFSP Grant)
• United Way Emerald Coast (COVID-19 Grant, EFSP Grants)
*Grant Funding: COVID-19 Relief Fund (multiple phases), EFSP Phase 37 Grants in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, EFSP CARES Grants in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, and Community Investment Grants.