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  • Writer's pictureCathy Nedd

United Way SEM Awards Grants to Local Organizations Following BET COVID-19 Relief Event

$2.8 million to Detroit nonprofits is part of more than $15 million raised nationally

United Way for Southeastern Michigan has announced nine organizations that will receive a total of $2.8 million in funding following the Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort fundraiser held on April 22, 2020. The much-needed support targets the city of Detroit, where the African American population has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

BET established the BET COVID-19 Relief Fund in partnership with United Way Worldwide, with 100 percent of the proceeds divided between select local United Ways in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York City. Those funds will be disbursed to their community partners, including those providing direct services and supports to individuals and families impacted by the pandemic.

“We are grateful to BET for launching this effort that is going to help so many families when they need it most. Bringing these funds home to Detroit is important for these organizations, along with many others, do amazing work on the frontlines and it’s important to provide them resources to continue,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president and CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “While no one is exempt from COVID-19, we know that large urban centers like Detroit are feeling the brunt of its impact. The economic and racial disparities that exist here mean even more people are having trouble meeting their basic needs.”

Recent reports show that the health outcomes and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionately impacting the African American community. Mortality rates for COVID-19 are higher for African Americans; financial instability is worsened by layoffs and closures in sectors like retail, hospitality, and health care, where African American workers are over-represented; and low-income African American students face a greater risk of learning loss and inadequate access to nutritious food with complete school closures.

The devastating impact of COVID-19 on Southeast Michigan is significant, given the financial stress already felt by many families in this region. In the city of Detroit, 74 percent of people are living near or below the United Way ALICE (Access Limited Income Constrained Employed) report guideline.

The organizations receiving support from the BET COVID-19 Relief Effort are:

· ACCESS · COTS · Focus: HOPE · Forgotten Harvest · Franklin-Wright Settlements · Henry Ford Health Systems · Neighborhood Service Organization · United Way 2-1-1 · Wayne Metro Community Action Agency

“We are so grateful for this grant from BET and United Way for Southeastern Michigan. At Focus: HOPE, we witness daily the disproportionate impact Covid-19 is having on our community,” Portia Roberson, CEO, Focus: HOPE. “This funding will allow us to continue to offer assistance to those struggling during this crisis.”

United Way’s 2-1-1 service will also benefit from the funding. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer calls from those in need and connect them with more than 1,300 resources. On average, United Way’s 2-1-1 processes nearly 600 calls every day.

The BET COVID-19 Relief Fund will remain open for donations through August 2020. The amount of support dollars to these nine organizations will continue to grow as contributions are made to the Fund.

Those wanting to donate can go to or text “BETGives” to 51555. Those wanting to donate directly to United Way for Southeastern Michigan can visit or text “PROTECT” to 50555

About United Way for Southeastern Michigan

United Way for Southeastern Michigan, a member of the United Way Worldwide network and an independently governed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works to help households become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive. For more than 100 years, United Way has been a leader in creating positive, measurable and sustainable change in communities throughout southeast Michigan. United Way works in partnership with donors, agencies, corporate and municipal partners to help families meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care and family finances, and ensure children start school ready to learn and graduate ready for life. To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit

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