United Way of Southwest Michigan creates Education Support Fund to help area schools with pandemic impact

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — United Way of Southwest Michigan recently announced that its board of directors approved the creation of an Education Support Fund and invested $150,000 to help local schools. The purpose of this fund is to support the 36 school districts in the region as they navigate through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessing the funds is not a competitive process, according to organizers. The $150,000 has been split equitably between each district, based on the number of economically disadvantaged students in each district. Each district will be told their allocation, and they will have to complete a simple application in order to access the money. If some districts choose not to participate, their portion will be divided equitably between the districts that did take advantage of this opportunity.

Funding can be used for whatever each district deems necessary or helpful, and could include literacy or other educational supports, social/emotional supports, staff training, or technology capacity. Projects do not have to exclusively serve economically disadvantaged students.

“We know that funding cuts to education are coming, and neither United Way nor any other community organization can fill that gap, but it’s our hope that the flexibility the schools have with these dollars can help ease some of the burden that they may be experiencing because of the crisis,” said Anna Murphy, president and CEO of UWSM. “COVID-19 has no doubt exacerbated the challenges that schools and students already faced, in addition to creating new ones.”

The deadline for schools to request funding is June 16. Funding will be released by June 19. The districts have been notified of the application process. All funds must be used by Dec. 31, and a final report outlining the results of the projects will be due by Jan. 30, 2021.