COVID-19 ERI Grant Awarded & Distribution of Funds Announced

Jackson County United Way is pleased to announce that it has been approved to receive a $275,000 COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant, made possible through a partnership between Lilly Endowment, Inc. and Indiana United Ways, the state professional association of which Jackson County United Way is a member.  These special funds will be used to boost the efforts of selected area human and social service nonprofits on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Jackson County United Way has been a key convener and coordinator of our community’s response to meet human needs for decades. Even before this crisis, we knew that 39% of families in Jackson County were not able to make ends meet - despite working. Without a robust local nonprofit safety net, those needs are bound to become even more dire. Thanks to generous support from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., we are now more strongly positioned to help our community’s nonprofits deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19,” said Luke Nolting, 2020 Jackson County United Way Board President.

The COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant calls for United Ways that receive funding to leverage partnerships and relationships to better meet COVID-related essential and basic needs, which could include safe, emergency childcare, and to address other COVID-19 critical issues as they emerge.

Specifically, Jackson County United Way plans to focus on partnering with nonprofits to ensure access to direct services like childcare & out of school supports, food, housing & utility assistance, while keeping an eye on future unmet and emerging needs. During this unparalleled moment in history, the United Way is strengthening their commitment to address the immediate and urgent needs of all Jackson County residents.  Covid-19 Emergency Relief Funds raised locally have been invested in six agencies, totaling $34,480.  These funds are being used to assist residents through our partnerships.  Current grantees and the support they provide include:

  • Anchor House: Food, Hygiene, & Cleaning Supplies
  • Blessings in a Backpack: Weekend Food Assistance for Boys & Girls Club
  • Boys & Girls Club: Summer Child Care Scholarships
  • Child Care Network: Summer Child Care Scholarships
  • Salvation Army: Rent & Utility Assistance
  • Waymaker Ministries: Food, Daily Living Needs, & Mental Health Supports

Here are a few quotes from grantees:

Ryon Wheeler, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Club, shared this, “While fees we charge are a fraction of the actual cost to serve our children, there are many families struggling with those right now.  Many families have been laid off and haven’t received any unemployment, have seen a reduction in hours, or have lost their jobs completely.  This wonderful grant will allow kids to have some normalcy in a safe environment while parents can still work or look for work during this time. Thanks to UW for their continued support of our mission and families!” 

“Waymaker is very thankful for the gift of support from Jackson County United Way and the donors of Jackson County. With new challenges come new solutions and Jackson County's United Way team is quick to look for creative collaboration and solutions for the people of our county,” said Karen Browning.  Waymaker serves all residents of Jackson County through a number of programs aimed at helping individuals and families reach and maintain stability. In addition to daily food, this meal site gives community members an opportunity to speak in person with one of our team to discuss needs and have a moment to speak with someone about concerns and anxieties.

In partnership with the Community Foundation of Jackson County, together we’ve awarded full grants to two organizations; one is Child Care Network.  Kate Garrity, Executive Director, shared this, “CCN is grateful for the partnership and support from the Jackson County United Way and the Community Foundation of Jackson County.  With the need to operate out of different buildings, it means that we are not able to take Child Care & Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers throughout the summer.  The COVID Relief funding will allow CCN to provide care for the children whose families qualify for vouchers without charging the families any fees and to continue our mission to ‘Improve the Lives of Children.’”

At the same time, United Way continues to be focused on considering the longer-term challenges around quality, affordable housing; domestic safety; mental health supports; and enrollment in needed health coverage that will affect financial stability, education, and health outcomes across Jackson County. United Way has been accepting funding requests from area human and social service nonprofits in good standing.  Interested organizations should visit for guidance on funding intent and application instructions. 

The funds will assist non-profit organizations helping individuals and families with immediate COVID-19 related financial needs not covered by government programs or other traditional relief sources.  Instead, the fund will provide financial assistance to non-profits organizations who are eligible.  To be eligible the organization must:

  • Be recognized by the IRS as a non-profit under IRS code 501(c)3.
  • Serve residents in Jackson County.
  • Have an emergent organizational need or have process to provide direct individual assistance for emergent needs.  If direct individual assistance is provided, the client will be asked to complete a Charity Tracker Release of Information and the organization complete an assistance record in the Charity Tracker system. 

The COVID Fund Distribution committee is working to set priorities around funding for child care and out of school supports, internet access, domestic safety & housing first, mental health needs, access to health insurance enrollment, and access and support services for Spanish speaking residents.

Payments from this grant will not be made directly to individuals or families requesting financial assistance.  United Way is convening bi-weekly conference calls to discuss emerging and unmet needs and planning for future needs with over 40 non-profit, faith-based, governmental and community leaders.  In order to have one point of contact for multiple needs United Way has created a COVID-19 Assistance Referral Form to connect clients to needs to a variety of services.  The form can be completed online at



Jackson County United Way is a non-profit organization that unites our community’s time, talent, and treasure to cultivate and advance community solutions that address the most critical issues around basic needs, education, financial stability and healthy lives.  For more information, contact Tonja Couch, Executive Director at

Lilly Endowment Inc., is a private philanthropic foundation supporting the causes of religion, education and community development focusing its work in Indianapolis and the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Judith Cebula, Communications Director at

Indiana United Ways is the state association for United Ways in Indiana that supports thriving United Ways through capacity building, shared services, and partnering. For more information, contact Maureen Noe, President & CEO at