United Way steps up to help St. Louis during COVID-19

United Way steps up to help St. Louis during COVID-19 

In early March, all of our lives changed when the COVID-19 crisis started to impact the U.S. As the way we live and work shifted, we knew we were going to need to step up for our community in a big way. We didn’t have all the answers, but we knew we would work tirelessly to identify and support our community’s needs.

United Way 2-1-1, our 24/7 call center, connects callers to resources they need. In the first few weeks, our team answered over 30,000 calls related to COVID-19 . Calls for basic needs like utilities and food increased as unemployment rates climbed . New needs arose too, like childcare support for essential and healthcare workers. Families and individuals were facing challenges they thought they may never have had to. Some lost their jobs and others had their hours drastically cut back, resulting in lost income.

With calls increasing and our community needing help, we wondered how we could use our strong network of organizations to help the Greater St. Louis region. Through United Way 2-1-1, the coordination of partner nonprofits and our work with COADs (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), we could determine where resources and funding are most needed during this time of crisis.

Our COVID-19 Response supported nonprofits meeting direct and immediate needs of individuals, families and communities throughout Missouri and Illinois . Phase 1 of our response awarded 47 nonprofits with emergency response grants totaling $545,000.

Read 5 ways phase 1 of our response helped our neighbors in need.

This crisis has put people on the edge of hunger and homelessness. So many in our community have experienced new needs, while others have faced further devastating impacts. Each service our COVID-19 Response supported, whether it’s transportation or food, counseling or after-school programs, represents a vital thread in our region’s safety net – a regional safety net that’s vital to supporting people before, during and after a crisis.

We helped organizations like St. Louis Area Foodbank purchase essential items in bulk, host over 130 pop-up distribution events that each served 300+ families, and distribute more than 800,000 pounds of food in ONE week. We’re helping our neighbors in need continue to put food on their tables through St. Louis Area Foodbank, Catholic Urban Programs, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, and other organizations.

From healthcare workers to grocery store employees to bus drivers, essential workers are on the front lines helping our community. But with kids home from school and many childcare facilities closed, parents needed a safe place to send their children so they can continue to work. Our emergency grants helped the Gateway Region YMCA create a safe space for essential workers to bring their children. Our support has helped more than 250 families with childcare, allowing essential workers to continue helping our region stay safe and healthy.

Staying at home during the COVID-19 crisis may be the safest option for some. But for others, staying in their home isn’t possible or it isn’t the safest place to be. We supported those that needed a safe place to sleep with nights in emergency shelters through organizations like St. Patrick Center and YWCA Metro St. Louis. Our strong network of nonprofits helps secure safe housing for women who have experienced domestic violence and for those experiencing homelessness.

United Way 2-1-1 saw that calls for basic needs like utilities, rent and mortgage assistance increased as unemployment rates climbed to a 66% increase from last year within the first 5 weeks of the crisis. We’re helping over 900 people stay in their homes through financial assistance for rent, mortgage, utilities and household items.


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James Taylor
James Taylor