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Greater Twin Cities United Way Expands COVID-19 Relief Efforts

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United Way Staff


Greater Twin Cities United Way announced today it has raised $3.25 million to date via its Greater Twin Cities COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, and $1.75 million directly will benefit the Twin Cities region. Several national corporations based in the Twin Cities are partnering with Greater Twin Cities United Way to distribute the remaining $1.5 million to other United Ways in markets where they have a presence.

“COVID-19 will continue to impact individuals, the nonprofit community and our local economy, which is why we’re distributing funds to local nonprofits in waves to meet both short and longer-term needs,” said John Wilgers, President & CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way. “We’re so grateful for the generosity of many, including 25 companies and 497 individuals.”

  • Raises $3.25 million to date
  • Distributes $315,000 to local nonprofits in second funding wave
  • Responds to 300 percent increase in needs via its statewide 211 resource helpline
  • Helps unlock $30 million in emergency childcare grants statewide

Distribution of Second Wave of Funding

In addition to the $200,000 United Way distributed in March, the organization announced it is distributing a total of $315,000 in its second grant round to support 56 of United Way’s nonprofit partners. This round of funding will address critical community needs, including:

  • Early childhood education
  • Support for people most impacted by layoffs in the hospitality industry
  • Support for organizations led by and predominately serving black, Indigenous and people of color: These organizations often operate as cultural centers – yet are under-funded – and are well positioned to provide holistic, culturally responsive support as well as enhanced life outcomes for the people they serve.

Third and Fourth Funding Waves

The third wave of funding is open to eligible nonprofits through a competitive application process. United Way will distribute a minimum of $400,000 before the end of May. Nonprofits can apply here.

United Way will distribute its fourth wave of funding to nonprofits later this summer.

“We are committed to targeting our resources to the areas of greatest need, especially during crises,” said Acooa Ellis, Senior Vice President of Community Impact at Greater Twin Cities United Way. “As we seek to foster a region where all thrive – regardless of income, race and place – our COVID-19 funding strategy is mindful of both existing disparities and the nimble ingenuity that is inherent in the nonprofit sector.”

Calls Surge to Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Statewide 211 Resource Helpline

Compared to the same time last year, United Way’s 211 operators are providing a 300 percent increase in referrals to services for people in need across Minnesota. Food, housing and clothing/household items are the top three needs.

Specifically, United Way has seen an increase in need compared to last year in:

  • Food: 1,283 percent increase
  • Housing: 286 percent increase, particularly rent assistance. Call volumes have increased significantly not only from callers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also the suburbs, including Dakota, Washington and Anoka counties.
  • Clothing/Household: 610 percent increase
  • Legal Services/Government Assistance: 205 percent increase
  • Mental Health: 189 percent increase
  • Healthcare: 72 percent increase

Given school closures, United Way 211 is partnering with school districts to provide reliable information to parents related to childcare, meal programs and other services.

United Way Advocates for State Funding and Policy to Support Children and Nonprofits

As conveners of the Start Early Funders Coalition – a collaboration of more than 20 members of Minnesota’s philanthropic community – Greater Twin Cities United Way helped provide financial support to a grassroots effort, resulting in $30 million in state-wide, emergency child care grants for child care providers. The Coalition’s mission is to advance affordable, accessible and high-quality care and education so all children in Minnesota have a healthy start and are prepared for lifelong success.

Additionally, in partnership with local and statewide nonprofits, United Way is activating hundreds of Minnesotans to urge legislators to take emergency action in support of the nonprofit sector – critical frontline partners in Minnesota’s crisis response and recovery. Areas of focus include increased investment in the Family Homelessness Prevention Assistance Program and the creation of a nonprofit recovery fund. Click here to urge lawmakers to prioritize nonprofit organizations as essential community partners in the COVID-19 response.

Donate to United Way’s Fund

Go to or text GTCUWCOVID19 to 51555 to donate to the Greater Twin Cities COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. One hundred percent of the donations will go directly into the community.

Many companies have provided generous donations to the fund, including 3M, Ames Construction, Bremer, CHS, Deluxe, General Mills, LDI, Medica Foundation, Pentair, RBC Wealth Management, Toro, Travelers and more.

Editor’s/Producer’s Note:

  • United Way leadership is available for virtual and phone interviews.
  • For more information, go to
    • For a list of companies supporting United Way’s COVID-19 efforts, scroll down to the third section.
    • For a list of nonprofits receiving United Way funding, scroll down to the fourth section (the Q&A) and reference the third question “Where will the money go?”
    • For more information on 211, scroll down to the fifth section called “COVID-19 Resources.”
    • For more information on United Way’s work in advocacy, scroll down to the sixth section called “Ask Legislators to Support Nonprofits During COVID-19.”
  • Find more information on Greater Twin Cities United Way’s first funding wave here.

About Greater Twin Cities United Way: One in four people in the Twin Cities region are experiencing poverty. Greater Twin Cities United Way supports long-term wellbeing by working to provide equitable access for all to a strong education, stable housing, healthy food and good jobs. We do this by bringing together the public, private and nonprofit sectors to solve the community’s most pressing needs. Through our public policy work, volunteer engagement, coalition building, United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline, nonprofit leadership support and grant making, we take a holistic, long-term approach to help people meet their potential. That’s because when more of us reach our potential, our whole community benefits. For more information on United Way, visit as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


About the Author

Greater Twin Cities United Way unites changemakers, advocates for social good and develops solutions to address the challenges no one can solve alone to create a community where all people thrive. Together with our partners, we’re meeting immediate community needs while transforming inequitable systems in the areas of housing, food, education and jobs.

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