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Grant To Help Meet Families’ Emergency Needs

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Grant To Help Meet Families’ Emergency Needs
Posted on 04/23/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Grant To Help Meet Families’ Emergency Needs

The Portland Public Schools is one of 31 local nonprofit and school-based organizations to benefit from a total of $229,239 in the first round of grants by the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Committee, United Way of Greater Portland recently announced.

The grants provide rapid funding to organizations on the front lines meeting emergency needs for those affected by the pandemic, such as food, shelter, and emergency financial assistance.

The Portland Public Schools received a grant of $16,559, which will be used to help vulnerable PPS immigrant families.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, these families were already struggling to meet basic needs such as accessing nutritious food; securing or maintaining housing; paying for utilities; finding safe, reliable child care; receiving essential medical care; securing stable employment; and accessing reliable transportation. Many of the parents and their children were already emotionally fragile because of their migration histories and experiences. The pandemic has exacerbated all these problems for them. The grant money will be used to assist this target population with their basic needs.

“We are deeply grateful to United Way of Greater Portland and the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Committee for this generous grant,” said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana. “This funding will go a long way toward decreasing the stress and anxiety about basic needs that many families are experiencing. Because of the convergence of multiple circumstances, these families often fall between the cracks of program guidelines. We are well positioned to find them, understand their immediate needs and put in place supports to enable parents to better help their children in their learning.”

United Way of Greater Portland President and CEO Liz Cotter Schlax said, “This fund was created to support our neighbors most impacted by COVID-19, such as these PPS families. We’re pleased that getting the money quickly flowing to these families to meet their basic needs will help their children be better able to focus on their learning during this crisis.”

Schlax added that, in addition to the immediate grant cycle, the committee will continue to look at the developing needs of the community.

“Thanks to the generosity of all who have given so far, we were able to allocate funds to organizations such as the Portland Public Schools, which will use this grant to directly assist individual PPS families in dire need,” said Quincy Hentzel, President and CEO, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, and COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Committee member. “However, this is just the beginning.  It’s difficult to determine what our community’s needs might be in a week or a month, so it’s important we continue to grow the fund to be able to meet evolving challenges.”

United Way of Greater Portland launched the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund on March 20 to support a range of nonprofit organizations assisting members of the community, particularly those most vulnerable. 100 percent of individuals’ donations go directly into the community thanks to underwriting support provided by Bank of America, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the John T. Gorman Foundation, Sam L. Cohen Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, Texas Instruments Foundation, and Unum. 

A new grant application cycle will open soon with projected disbursement following soon thereafter to address ongoing emerging needs.

For more information about the Greater Portland COVID-19 Community Relief Fund or to donate, visit www.unitedwaygp.org/covid.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with 6,750 students this year, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students – 35 percent – come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. About 53 percent of the district’s students are white and 47 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school lunch.