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New Grants to Strengthen Region’s Safety Net

There is staggering poverty in our community. Over 730,000 people are living at or near poverty in both urban and suburban areas.

To address this mounting need, we’re awarding $50 million to our Strengthening the Safety Net goal area. The funding, effective July 1, will boost nearly 100 organizations in their work providing resources and empowering residents to achieve stability and self-sufficiency in the nine-county region.

The Safety Net targets six key areas: optimal health, stable housing, food security (aiding the hungry); independence for seniors and people with disabilities; safety from family violence; and legal services.

Roughly 20 percent of the funds include capacity building grants, for what we call ‘Culturally Specific Organizations’ or CSOs. These are smaller organizations led and staffed by people of color and primarily serve communities of color. This is a critical component of United Way’s strategy to address the region’s persistent racial inequities in education and employment.

As the largest non-governmental social services funder in Minnesota, United Way adheres to high standards in program investments.

“We held listening sessions and collaborated to design with the community where to best direct resources that create the best opportunities,” says United Way President and CEO Sarah Caruso. “Poverty doesn’t reside only in urban areas but is rapidly spreading into the suburbs, which signifies Safety Net resources are even more crucial.”

A newly funded program and Culturally Specific Organization, Ujamaa Place is a nonprofit that empowers African American men to become productive members of their families and communities through education and skills training.

“Young African American men often become part of the ‘lost generation’ who either die at a young age or are incarcerated for most of their lives,” said Otis Zanders, president and CEO. “Receiving this funding will allow us to reverse this trend by reaching even more young African American men and helping them access stable housing, learn new skills and secure a job.”

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