At the July 2021 board meeting, the Steelcase Foundation board of trustees approved a one-year $450,000 grant to Heart of West Michigan United Way (HWMUW) in support of its 2021 Annual Campaign. HMWUW provides critical funding and partnership support to community agencies working to reduce poverty with the vision of creating a thriving community for all. Grant funds will be used for operations and strategic initiatives, including the Community Grant Fund, the Young Leaders Society (YLS), the Volunteer Center, and the Opportunity Initiative, which provides one-time grants and capacity-building support to small grassroots and BIPOC-led/founded organizations.
HWMUW acts as the connective tissue for the philanthropic infrastructure of Kent County and is the fiduciary and/or employer of record for multiple community collaboratives, including the Kent County Essential Needs Task Force (ENTF), Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness, Great Start Collaborative of Kent County, Baxter Community Center’s Day One Doulas Collaborative (a program to train doulas of color), the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), and other emergency projects as they arise.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, HMWUW quickly established the Coronavirus Response Fund, raising $3.4 million to support 134 agencies in 2020. HWMUW’s role as 2-1-1 operator for the state also played a critical role in connecting residents to resources and scheduling all COVID-19 vaccination appointments for health departments throughout Michigan. Currently, HWMUW is coordinating the distribution of $39 million to support rent and utility assistance for low-to-moderate income households through MSHDA’s COVID Emergency Relief Assistance (CERA), ensuring renters can remain in the homes through direct payments to landlords.
Heart of West Michigan United Way has consistently been at the forefront leading efforts to address challenges in our community, and ensure families in Kent County has the resources they need to thrive. We’re so excited to continue our support of Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Annual Campaign to ensure this essential support continues to make positive change in our community.